Maker's Mark is a passport site, and on the National Historic Register. They were also very, very busy. They had given up guided tours and were handing out maps with locations circled and setting the busloads of people loose to do their own thing. They had people stationed throughout the buildings and grounds to answer questions and keep everyone alive. :)
The guide at Barton's had told us that at Maker's Mark you can taste the fermenting mash and that it was super disgusting. They produce year round and have giant open vats. As mentioned corn must be the majority grain, but secondary grains include rye and wheat. Malted barley is also used and the formulas and mixtures are specific to each distillery. However, without the proper yeast strain you will never be able to duplicate the beverage. The yeast is a closely guarded secret at every distillery.
Because it looks like it's at a rolling boil I thought it would be hot, hot, hot, but actually when you dip a finger in it's cool to the touch. The first vat had only been fermenting a day so it had basically no alcohol and also no taste.
The second tub had been fermenting for a couple of days (maybe 3) and had only a slightly sour taste. Nothing too terrible.
Rule 2 of Bourbon making - White Dog off the still can be no more than 160 proof, and no more than 125 proof in barrel. If it's over they'll cut it with demineralized water to bring it down. Those boxes on top are called tail boxes - it's where the White Dog comes out of the still for taste testing before being barreled. Tail boxes are sources of pride and bragging rights among the distilleries -- our is more expensive, prettier, shinier, older, etc. than yours.
Maker's Mark hand dips every bottle. It was fascinating to see.
I'm thinking the hat had to do with Derby weekend, but maybe she just likes to be fancy.
The best part of Marker's Mark is that you can dip your own bottle. It is awesome.
As you can see I went what's known as "all the way" on my bottle. Technically you are only supposed to dip to just below that indentation, but now that I'm in Texas my motto is "go big or go home".
I couldn't resist this dipped shot glass; I thought it was awesome.