Kentucky Bourbon Tour

There are 4.7 million barrels of Bourbon aging in Kentucky as you read this.  That is a barrel for each of the state’s 4.3 million residents with 400,000 barrels left over for good measure.  While I know that your eyes might be getting red just thinking about that much Bourbon, the good news is that the spirits industry here in Kentucky has been booming while much of the rest of the economy has been lagging.

In 1999, the Kentucky Distillers’ Association formed the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® tour to better serve the thousands of Bourbon aficionados who want a firsthand look at the art and science of crafting Bourbon, and to have the opportunity to sample a bit of what the various distilleries have to offer as well.  In fact, as Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer put it, Bourbon “isn’t just a drink anymore. It’s a culture, a lifestyle and an essential part of our tourism efforts.”  As proof of that, more than 25,000 people have completed all six stops on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® (http://www.kybourbontrail.com/) tour since 2007 and all Kentucky Bourbon distilleries have enjoyed more than 2 million individual visits in the last five years. While many states are creating wine trails, the Kentucky Bourbon Trail is the only one of its kind in the world.  The trail tour features six distilleries — Four Roses, Heaven Hill, Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, Wild Turkey and Woodford Reserve.

Bourbon got its start back in the 1700’s with the first settlers of Kentucky. Like most farmers and frontiersmen, they found that getting crops to market over narrow trails and steep mountains was a daunting task.  They soon learned that converting corn and other grains to whiskey made them easily transportable, prevented the excess grain from simply rotting, and gave them some welcome diversion from the rough life of the frontier.  Since then, generations of Kentuckians have continued the heritage and time-honored tradition of making fine Bourbon and people throughout the world have welcomed the “diversion from the rough life” that it use brings them.

The Kentucky Bourbon Trail® has now taken an important step in bringing the Bourbon lifestyle and culture to an even larger audience by hiring its first manager to work with distilleries that are part of the tour.  Adam Johnson, formerly the Executive Director of the Danville/Boyle County Convention and Visitors Bureau, has taken on the job of attracting even more visitors to the tour and bringing those additional tourism dollars to Kentucky.

Only 3,000 weekends to go….

While most of us feel like there aren’t enough of them, in fact, we have far too many weekends.  I know that no one really agrees with that thought, but let me explain.  Fifty two weekends a year and an average lifespan of 75 years give you 3,900 of them in your lifespan.  That’s 7,800 days or 22.4 years worth of weekends.  What are you complaining about?

You probably haven’t done the calculation but you shouldn’t be surprised.  We all must intuitively know about the years and years worth of free time looming ahead of us because so few of us give those weekends any real value.  It’s the simple law of supply and demand.  If there is an over supply of something, we tend to value it less.  We all know that we have 22 years of free time out there waiting to be wasted, so that is exactly what we do – we waste it.  We all think that we have so much time that we don’t have to take advantage of the moment.  We don’t seize the day, or carpe diem as our Roman friends would have said, because we have year’s and year’s worth of weekends before us.

While we fritter away one weekend after another, we actually find that the bucket list gets longer and those thousands of weekends of our youth are lost forever.

Here in Lexington, all you folks who have been saying that you will do this or that “next” weekend, now is the time.  For example, the Kentucky Bourbon Tour has grown from very humble beginnings to the point where thousands of people from around the country come to Kentucky every year to enjoy the sights, sounds, tastes, and cultural history it has to offer.  We here at the Clarion Hotel host numerous visitors who make a pilgrimage to the distilleries that bring us America’s only true original spirit.  Some make a sprint and a blur of it by getting in 4 distilleries in a day.  Others take the time to savor the experience and take them in at a more leisurely pace.  The point is that we have folks coming from miles and miles away to stay at the Clarion Hotel while all the good folks here in Lexington are putting it off until next year, next month, or just next weekend.

Time’s a wastin’ and you may only have a couple of thousand of weekends left.  Get out there this next weekend.  Start your tour at Woodford Reserve, Markers Mark, or Wild Turkey and seize both the day and a bit of Kentucky.  If you need more info on the tour or other activities in Lexington, just go to http://www.clarionhotellex.com or give us a call at 859-233-0512.  Enjoy the weekend.

Alltech National Horse Show a Great Success

Like Lazarus rising from the dead, the National Horse Show, now the Alltech National Horse Show, has been reborn in its new home, the Kentucky Horse Park (KHP). An international field of riders and horses came together for the 5-day event here in Lexington to compete for big prize money, up to $250,000 in the Alltech Grand Prix event alone, which is a World Cup qualifier. The decision to move the event to Lexington would not have been possible if the Kentucky Horse Park had not been expanded and improved as it was for the World Equestrian Games. The ten’s of millions of dollars in investment in the KHP and other Lexington infrastructure is clearly paying off.
Once again, we played host at the Clarion Hotel Lexington to both show officials and competitors alike. The Clarion has seen a big up tick in activity as the KHP is now beginning to hit its stride with the addition of a multitude of new events, equestrian and otherwise. Competitors gushed about the KHP with comments like “conditions are ideal” and “what an incredible venue this is”.
Congrats to everyone who competed and we hope to see them back here in the Bluegrass again soon.

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