Let’s face it, distillers are makers. Makers of fine spirits. They mix a variety of natural resources like grains, water and heat to get their spirits just right. They are artists, they all use similar materials but they add their own brush strokes to make it their own. They don’t want to be the same as everyone else. Artists are similar. They are makers. They take raw materials and mold them into something all their own. In the case of glass blowers, they use grains of silica sand, combined with soda ash and limestone. Then they each introduce those raw materials to heat, albeit extreme heat in the case of glass, then they cool their media with water to prepare get it to just the right temperature. Before you know it, they have a beautifully crafted piece of art.
Making History on this Site Since 1805
Maker’s Mark Distillery is on the way to…well, on the way to Maker’s Mark. The site originally started in the distilling business over two centuries ago in 1805 as the Burks’ Gristmill and Distillery. The Samuels family purchased the historic landmark site in 1953 and starting distilling a year later. Over the years, the distillery has always had a knack for attracting a crowd to this out of the way gem.
“Creating our handmade bourbon isn’t a job – it’s an art form.”
~ Rob Samuels, Eighth-generation whisky maker and Chief Operating Officer
Maker’s Mark was one of the first Kentucky distilleries to earn the honor of being placed on the National Register of Historic Places. And now, they continue to make history with their latest exhibit from famed glass artist Dale Chihuly. The distillery had their first collaboration with Chihuly in 2014 with the introduction of “The Spirit of the Maker” placed inside the ceiling of one of the barrel warehouses. It’s a 36 foot by 6 foot collection of some 1,300 pieces of hand-blown splendor (Sidenote: If you visit, make sure you look for the Cherubs hiding among the sea creatures. We’ve shared one below. Do you know how many there are?)
“Chihuly at Maker’s”
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Earlier this summer, Maker’s Mark and Dale Chihuly expanded their mutual love of art with, “Chihuly at Maker’s.” The Chihuly exhibit includes the “Spirit of the Maker” plus six new collections.
- Amber and New Oak Chandelier – Blown glass and steel. 44″ x 117″ x 62″
- Red Reeds – Blown glass of various heights.
- Crimson and Chestnut Fiori Boat – Blown glass and wooden boat. 81″ x 217″ x 115″
- Summer Sun – Blown glass and steel. 12′ x 12′ x 12′
- Sapphire and Platinum Waterdrop Tower – Blown glass and steel. 144″ x 80″ x 80″
- Red Baskets – Sizes vary.
- Spirit of the Maker – 37′ x 6′
You can see the complete collection below in a collection of both daytime and nighttime photos.
Maker’s Mark Distillery Visitor Traffic Up 28%
Apparently, the artwork knows how to draw a crowd. Since the introduction of the hand-blown glass, visitor traffic to the distillery has been stunning. The distillery has seen a 28% increase in visitors as compared to last year. Other factors have contributed to that success as well. Earlier this year the distillery opened the world’s first Whiskey Cellar to control the aging of Maker’s 46 and because of a 2016 change in Kentucky state law the distillery can now serve mixed drinks to its guest and has added the new Star Hill Provisions restaurant. This combination of investments has bolstered the visitor experience and the numbers show it’s paying off.
See it Before the Sun(burst) Goes Down
The Chihuly at Maker’s exhibit runs for a limited time through December 3, 2017. The stunning nighttime exhibit, Chihuly Nights runs through November 25. As darkness descends, you’ll experience the artwork in a whole new way with the distillery’s unique landscape serving as a fascinating canvas for these unforgettable works of art.
Now get out there and support your local craft spirits makers!
A Visually Stunning Tour of Maker’s Mark Distillery
Click on any image to enlarge.
How Did They Do That?
If you are wondering how they put these beautiful and very large pieces of artwork together here’s the answer. Watch this behind the scenes video of how the beautiful, “Summer Sun” rises from crate to sky.