Chihuly glass exhibit elevates bourbon tasting experience at Mak - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Chihuly glass exhibit elevates bourbon tasting experience at Maker's Mark

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LORETTO, Ky. (WDRB) -- Maker's Mark prides itself on the art of bourbon making. Now their whiskey is pairing perfectly with glass creations by a world renowned artist.

At the Maker's Mark sprawling estate where the distilling of bourbon is an art form, visitors might come for the Kentucky whiskey, but it's the art that's catching their attention.

"It literally stops them in their tracks," said eighth-generation whiskey maker and Maker's Mark Chief Operating Officer Rob Samuels.

Larger-than-life glass sculptures shimmering in the sunlight against the backdrop of bourbon barrels. 

"(It's) creating a really special moment," said Samuels. The creations are the work of world renowned artist, Dale Chihuly, inspired by the Bourbon Trail. 

"He came to visit the distillery, fell in love with all the things we have in common," said Samuels.

He calls the display a celebration of shared values, years in the making.

"I had written Dale Chihuly a letter three years ago hoping that he would at least consider (and be) inspired by the handmade values of our handmade Maker's Mark bourbon," said Samuels.

The letter worked and the two collaborated on Maker's first Chihuly installation "Spirit of the Maker." It's a canopy of glass in the cellar that was unveiled in 2014. 

"When we unveiled that installation, Dale Chihuly whispered in my ear that he thought this might be the most inspired environment of any installation he's ever been a part of," said Samuels.

That inspiration sparked this new temporary exhibit, which is on display through October. It features seven installations, each more magnificent than the next. "The Amber and New Oak Chandelier" greets guests in the visitor's center where a copper still acts as the canvas.

"The Summer Sun" is at the heart of the Victorian Village made up of more than 1,600 hand blown pieces of glass. 

"It was a team of 20 people over the course of two weeks. Three tractor trailer loads of hand blown glass," said Samuels.

Outside Maker's Mark's new restaurant sits the 12 foot tall "Blue and White Sapphire and Platinum Waterdrop Tower."

"I think any time you have that around you try to up your game too," said Newman Miller who is executive chef of Star Hill Provisions, Maker's Mark's new restaurant.

Miller calls the exhibit inspiration for the menu.

"We're just doing everything we possibly can to make sure that whatever we serve that day at that moment is the best thing in central Kentucky we can find," said Miller.

Guests can elevate their bourbon tasting experience by attending Chihuly Nights, a chance to take in the glass pieces as darkness descends then enjoy dinner. It's palette perfection paired with bourbon and art.

"To get up close and personal and experience Dale Chihuly's magic as part of their Maker's Mark experience," said Samuels.

The Chihuly exhibit runs through October. Chihuly Nights happen every Saturday beginning July 22.

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