Take a Tour of the Maker's Mark Bourbon Distillery

The Maker's Mark bourbon distillery, a national landmark in Loretto, Ky., started producing bourbon in the 1950s, but the Samuels family that makes it has a colorful history that goes farther back, and somehow involves Colonel Sanders, Abraham Lincoln, Jesse James, George Washington and two Archbishops of Canterbury.

Maker's Mark is still steered by the Samuels family, although it is owned by Beam Suntory, Inc. a part of Suntory Beverage & Food Ltd., which is a subsidiary of Suntory Holdings of Japan.

The bourbon is known for its signature red wax seal, and is made in small batches. Maker's Mark is unusual in that red winter wheat is used in the mash, instead of rye. Corn and malted barley are also used.

Take a tour of the distillery that makes this award-winning spirit. Photo: TheStreet

Tour the Maker's Mark Bourbon Distillery
Tour the Maker's Mark Bourbon Distillery
Photo:TheStreet

According to the company, Bill Samuels, Sr. bought the historic Burks Spring Distillery in Happy Hollow, Ky. in 1953. Production began in 1954, and the first run was bottled in 1958. Above, visitors at the start of the distillery tour. Photo: TheStreet

The Grounds
The Grounds
Photo:TheStreet

Whisky Creek flows through the grounds of the distillery. Photo: TheStreet

The Barn
The Barn
Photo:TheStreet

Bill Samuels, Jr., really put Maker's Mark on the map. The distillery offers tours, and is part of the American Whiskey Trail and the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Photo: TheStreet

Loretto, Kentucky
Loretto, Kentucky
Photo:TheStreet

The distillery was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on Dec. 31, 1974, and designated a National Historic Landmark on Dec. 16, 1980. Photo: TheStreet

Bill Samuels Jr. Leads a Tour
Bill Samuels Jr. Leads a Tour
Photo:TheStreet

Bill Samuels Jr., was born in 1940 and became a rocket scientist, working on the Gemini and Polaris missiles, among other projects. He later went to law school before joining his father in the family business. According to Whisky Magazine, which named him to its Hall of Fame, Bill Samuels Jr. assumed leadership of Maker's Mark in the mid-1970s and looking back, he followed his father's stern but simple piece of advice to not "screw up the whisky." He has received many industry awards and has been lauded for his service to the community. He was president and CEO of Maker's Mark until his retirement in 2011 at the age of 70. He still loves to enthusiastically lead tours and tastings. His son Rob Samuels succeeded him. Photo: TheStreet

The Grounds
The Grounds
Photo:TheStreet

Photo: TheStreet

The Grounds
The Grounds
Photo:TheStreet

The distillery grounds, with artwork by Dale Chihuly.  Photo: TheStreet

The Tasting Rooms
The Tasting Rooms
Photo:Maker's Mark Distillery

Photo: Maker's Mark Distillery

The Homeplace
The Homeplace
Photo:Maker's Mark Distillery

Part of the homeplace building, where tours and tastings begin. Photo: Maker's Mark Distillery

An Old Still
An Old Still
Photo:TheStreet

Photo: TheStreet

Kentucky Bourbon
Kentucky Bourbon
Photo:TheStreet

The square-shaped Maker's Mark bottle is sealed with wax. T. William Samuels' wife, Marjorie "Margie" Samuels, reportedly gave the whiskey its name, drew its label, and thought of the wax-dipping process.  Photo: TheStreet

The Tasting Room
The Tasting Room
Photo:TheStreet

One of the areas where special tasting and blending events are held. P hoto: TheStreet

Glass Art
Glass Art
Photo:TheStreet

The distillery features lots of glass sculpures, both inside and out, by artist Dale Chihuly. This is a detail of a ceiling installation titled "Spirit of the Maker."  Photo: TheStreet

The Distillery Room
The Distillery Room
Photo:TheStreet

Photo: TheStreet

The Distillery Room
The Distillery Room
Photo:TheStreet

Photo: TheStreet

The Mark
The Mark
Photo:TheStreet

The "mark" of Maker's Mark has symbols representing Star Hill Farms, where the distillery is, the "S" for Samuels, the "IV" stands for T.W. Samuels, a fourth-generation whisky maker.  Photo:TheStreet

The Custom Blending Room
The Custom Blending Room
Photo:TheStreet

Photo: TheStreet

The Aging Warehouse
The Aging Warehouse
Photo:TheStreet

Photo: TheStreet

The Aging Warehouse
The Aging Warehouse
Photo:Maker's Mark Distillery

The bourbon is aged three years in barrels.  Photo: Maker's Mark Distillery

The Bottling Line
The Bottling Line
Photo:TheStreet

Photo: TheStreet

The Bottling Line
The Bottling Line
Photo:TheStreet

Employees work on the bottling line.  Photo: TheStreet

The Bottling Line
The Bottling Line
Photo:TheStreet

Maker's 46 on the bottling line. Maker's 46, created by Bill Samuels, Jr., was first new bourbon from Maker's Mark Distillery in more than 50 years. This bourbon is aged longer, inside barrels containing seared French oak staves, which changes the flavor and reduces bitterness, the company says.  Photo: TheStreet

That Distinctive Seal
That Distinctive Seal
Photo:TheStreet

Employees dip the bottles in wax for the company's signature seal.  Photo: TheStreet

Wax Formula
Wax Formula
Photo:Maker's Mark Distillery

The wax formula took six months of trial and error to develop, the company says. It won't melt at temperatures lower than 350 degrees F.  Photo: Maker's Mark Distillery

The Wax
The Wax
Photo:Maker's Mark Distillery

The bottles are recognizable for that wax, as seen in this 'favorite ad' from the Maker's Mark website.  Photo: Maker's Mark Distillery

Barrel Staves for Custom Blending
Barrel Staves for Custom Blending
Photo:TheStreet

Photo: TheStreet

The Gift Shop
The Gift Shop
Photo:TheStreet

Golf club covers for bourbon lovers.  Photo: TheStreet

Private Select
Private Select
Photo:TheStreet

Maker's Mark Private Select for sale at the gift shop. 110 proof.  Photo: TheStreet

Bourbon-Flavored Coffee
Bourbon-Flavored Coffee
Photo:TheStreet

Coffee, with a touch of bourbon flavor.  Photo: TheStreet

Nothing Like Cherries in Bourbon
Nothing Like Cherries in Bourbon
Photo:TheStreet

Bourbon cherries. Photo: TheStreet

Making Labels
Making Labels
Photo:Maker's Mark Distillery

An employee makes labels in the print shop. The printing press is a 1935 Chandler & Price die-cut printer. Four sheets are cut at a time.  Photo: Maker's Mark Distillery

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This article was written by a staff member of TheStreet.

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