Blues, BBQ & Bourbon Roadtrip: Wigwam Village and Maker’s Mark Distillery

by Megg

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After Nashville, we drove a bit further north to sleep. Why? Because in Cave City, Kentucky, kitschy Americana awaits.

Wigwam Village, Cave City, KY | PopArtichoke
The first Wigwam Village was built in 1936, and by 1950, six more had popped up across the USA.  Three still remain today, including the second of the franchise, built in 1937, here in Cave City, Kentucky.
It was dark as we pulled up the circle of towering concrete teepees (yeah, they’re not wigwams), so we acquired a key at the house on site. We entered the little room inside the towering white cone we’d been assigned.  It was small and, well, less-than-clean. There was a rickety space heater struggling to warm the place, a tiny, poorly-lit bathroom with a dark and creepy shower, and then we noticed a cricket. It was a big, dead cricket, just lying there on the floor. Then we discovered another, and another, as well as a few still clinging on to life. This was a bit….unnerving, but we disposed of them and cautiously crawled into bed. 

We survived the night, took a few snapshots, and were on our way. If you’re looking for nice amenities, a hygienic atmosphere, and an absence of insect corpses, this place is not for you. But it’s also one of the cheapest options you’ll find at only $40 for 1 double bed, and hey, how many people can say they slept in a weird, white-man’s version of a wigwam? Add two to that list!
Wigwam Village, Cave City, KY | PopArtichoke

Now it was time for bourbon. We’d expected to do a tour of an assortment of local distilleries, but you know what they say about the best-laid plans. A few things were working against us: the drives between each distillery (and the fact that there’s drinking involved), the loss of an hour crossing into the eastern time zone, and the fact that most of these tours end in the early afternoon. Still, we managed to make it to Maker’s Mark, which was high on our list. 

The tour was a lot of fun.  We learned about distillery’s history, and got to see first-hand the steps that go into making the final product.

Mash - Tour of the Maker's Mark Distillery | PopArtichoke.comWe got to see the different stages of the mash, and even got to taste it to see how it changes over time (yes, everyone sticks their finger in the mash and tastes it.  My slightly-germophobic self thought, “wow, how many grubby-handed tourists have stuck their fingers into my whiskey???” but then I remembered it’s alcohol.  I’m sure it’s fine. ^_^)

Vendome Copper and Brass Works - Tour of the Maker's Mark Distillery |

They make their labels on-site, so we got to see that in the works and pick up a few freshly-minted labels as souvenirs.

Then we were led into the bottling facility, where we could see the whole assembly line at work.

Assembly Line 2- Tour of the Maker's Mark Distillery |

Makers Mark BW Assembly Line - Tour of the Maker's Mark Distillery | PopArtichoke.comOf course, the best part is the tasting!  There were four varieties to try.  All are from the same recipe; it’s the aging processes that make each one unique!

First was the Maker’s Mark White.  This is only available at the distillery itself, so it was a new experience.  This un-aged whiskey was surprisingly smooth and nice, though I probably wouldn’t buy a bottle. I heard someone compare it unfavourably to tequila, but I love tequila, so maybe that’s why I liked it.
Next was the Maker’s Mark Fully Matured.  This is the classic we’ve come to know and love.  It was interesting to taste it next to the Over Matured, which was there just for the comparison.  The Over Matured has a harsher bite at the end, and less smooth sweetness.  Lastly, we got to try the Maker’s 46, which is a favourite of mine, though this was the first time I got to compare it to the original.  I’m a big fan of its more complex flavours, and since it’s really hard to find in Quebec, it was a special treat.  

Makers Mark Ads | PopArtichoke

The tour ends in the gift shop, where we bought a few little gifts.  I’d heard that you can buy a bottle and dip it yourself, but it turned out to be too expensive for us.  Apparently KY law aims to protect mom-n-pop liquor stores by preventing distilleries from offering their products at far lower prices.  However, the prices we later saw in a Louisville liquor store was far less than at Maker’s Mark, though we just waited until we got to Chicago, where I knew I could find an even better price.  
The tour was only $7 (and this includes the tasting).  I hope next time I’m in bourbon country I can visit more distilleries…. just need to start earlier in the day, it seems!
After Maker’s Mark, we ate at the wonderful Mayan Cafe in Louisville.  I wish we could have explored Louisville more, but we kept on, and by the next day I was in sweet home Chicago.  All it all it was a unique and exciting road trip, and I hope to do it again sometime, but with a lot more time for each stop!

In case you missed it, here’s the rest of the Blues, BBQ & Bourbon Roadtrip posts!:

Part 1 ; Part 2 - New Orleans, Louisiana

Part 3 - Cajun Country, Louisiana

Part 4 - Shacked-Up in Clarksdale, Mississippi (& a bit of Arkansas)

Part 5 -  Memphis & Nashville, Tennessee


Interested in the places mentioned in this post?  Here’s the details:

Wigwam Village Inn#2
601 N. Dixie Hwy, Cave City, KY
(270) 773-3381
Reservation office open 8am-8pm daily
Maker’s Mark Distillery
3350 Burk Spring Rd, Loretto, KY 40037
(270) 865-2099
Monday-Sat 10:30am-3:30pm; Sunday 1:30pm-3:30pm
Tour & bourbon tasting is $7 per adult
  • emily illinois

    teepees called wigwams…gotta love olden times folk…i still wish you’d post pics of what it looked like inside that thing…or at least one of the dead crickets… 😉

    • Megg (PopArtichoke)

      ‘Twas rather dark in their too. Not too dark to see crickets, but too dark for a photo. You’ll just have to trust me on this one… :)

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