Bourbon whiskey gets much of its aromatic flavor, and all of its rich amber color from months, and often years, of resting in charred, white oak barrels. When the aging process is complete, the bourbon is corked into glass bottles before being shared with a thirsty world.
To celebrate this age-old process, it only seems fitting that world-renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly would be recruited to create a special exhibit of his iconic art glass for the 60th Anniversary of the equally famous, old-house bourbon distiller, Maker’s Mark.
In a recent post in our series on art glass, we featured Chihuly’s work in a museum setting in St. Petersburg, Florida. But anyone who’s seen his versatile art outdoors knows that it can enhance a green landscape just as easily as the walls of a modern art gallery.
Located in Loretto, Kentucky, population 713, Maker’s Mark looks more like a sleepy Victorian village than a busy whiskey distillery. Surrounded by small streams and the rolling hills of the bluegrass, this is about as relaxed and understated as factories come.
Chihuly’s signature colors and shapes are a marvelous contrast to the natural colors and textures of the lush landscape and nostalgic architecture, and the results are terrific. There is an array of whimsical pieces scattered around the grounds. But the “big reveal” is the ceiling above the dusty walkway inside the main barrel house – cleverly called “The Spirit of the Maker.”
“What pleases me most about the Spirit of the Maker is how it contrasts with the space it inhabits,” Chihuly says. “Surrounded by stacks of dusty, wooden barrels and hovering above a floor of unfinished wood planks, its hues of red, blue, green and amber create a warm and ethereal environment.” —Dale Chihuly
Bourbon distilleries have a long tradition in Kentucky, and perhaps, adding a modern-art twist on a bucolic location sounds counterintuitive. But standing in the warm glow of Chihuly’s kaleidoscope of colors with the faint smell of oaked bourbon in the air is truly intoxicating.
So if you’re passing through, get off the interstate, drive the country roads to Loretto, take a tour, have a taste, and experience the Spirit of the Maker.
Good Health and Happy Trails,
James & Terri