It would be a gross understatement to say that we have a lot going on here at the inn. In fact, we have a ridiculous amount of “irons” in a ridiculous amount of “fires” right now. Mom and Elizabeth are busy with updating many of the rooms: new window treatments, wallpaper, paint, upholstery, carpet, fixtures, etc., etc., etc. Sometimes I think they’re just playing their own little version of some Home Makeover show. We’ve also updated the televisions in each guest room – all flat panels. Dad and Lloyd are gearing up for the upcoming mowing season, prepping the garden, taking down trees, still splitting truckload after truckload of firewood, and occasionally sitting around their new wood stove they installed in the “Work Shop.” The biggest project we are undertaking over the coming weeks is to equip each guestroom in Goddard Hall with individually controlled heating and air conditioning units. When I was a kid and they closed the Inn for most of December, January, February, and most of March, this would have been easily accomplished and done without much trouble. But now, we’ll be coordinating with the HVAC guys and electricians on a daily basis, working around our corporate travelers and weekenders until we have this feat accomplished – the plan is to be done by April. It may cause a few headaches, but it will be well worth it when finished.
So, what am I doing? I want to share a couple things. One thing I decided to do this winter which I am really excited about was to give Chef Jerry and Chef Natalie a little assignment. As always, I will tweak the menus around the first of April. So, I have challenged our creative team, myself included, with the following exercise: Create a menu for both the Main Dining Room and The Tavern as if we were opening both these venues on April 1st for the first time ever. I challenged them to take a completely fresh look at what they would want to serve and how they would want to serve it with no regard to their past experience creating and executing menus for our restaurants. What happens to me after working with my father over the past ten years or so and trying to weave two menus together to co-exist as they are produced and executed out of the same kitchen is that you start to think too much about how it would work, or why it wouldn’t work, instead of great idea, great concept, let’s make it work. Now, don’t get me wrong, because as my grandfather would say: Don’t shoot the horse that brung ya! By that I mean, never fear, we aren’t all of a sudden going to be serving sushi or Pacific Rim-inspired cuisine. But, we are thinking outside the box, which I hope will inspire us to push the limits of said box a bit further.
What else have I been doing? The answer might surprise you – unless you know me. I’ve been drinking Bourbon! I cannot begin to describe how “Bourbon Tourism” is exploding in the Bluegrass these days. The numbers are staggering, but suffice it to say that people are coming in droves to participate in the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® Experience. About eighteen months ago or so, I started offering individual Bourbon Tastings. Read more on the website, and guests contact me via email or voice mail and we set up a time to meet and do these tastings.
The idea came from the fact that I was spending so much time talking Bourbon with our guests after or before they had been venturing out on the Bourbon Trail®. The Distillery Tours do a great job discussing their products, what it takes to create these products, the many hoops they have to jump through to simply make a Bourbon, but what I found was that there is a great demand for the opportunity to sit down and not only talk Bourbon, but talk different Bourbons. What I mean is, when you go to the different distilleries, obviously they’re talking their Bourbons. My goal was to give our guests the opportunity to sit down with several bourbons from different distilleries, with different flavor profiles achieved through tweaking different parts of the distilling and aging process, and taste them side by side. I also wanted to create another tasting that would offer guests an opportunity to sample some of the Ultra Premium Bourbons that we are able to acquire through allocation via our distributors, but that at the price tags they are offered, they might only be able to try one. For instance, ordering 23 Year-Old Pappy Van Winkle comes at quite a cost, but if you do the Ultra Premium Tasting, I offer a small tasting of six rare and ultimately rather expensive Bourbons that you’re just not going to be able to go buy off the shelves of your – or our for that matter – local package store.
Make no mistake; I claim to be no Bourbon Guru or Master of anything. But, over the last ten years or so I’ve been very fortunate to develop good relationships with many of the Master Distillers and other very knowledgeable people in the Bourbon world. I like to share a lot of the stories and information that I’ve gleaned from them that you don’t get in the different distillery tours. I’ve really come to enjoy walking people through the different nuances of Bourbon, the history and the passion that many people have for Bourbon. Maybe I’m channeling this love of sharing with guests about this native spirit back to my great-great grandfather, C.M. Dedman, owner and operator of Kentucky Owl Sour Mash Bourbon Whiskey. I do know these tastings become more and more popular all time, and that there’s little else I’d prefer to do than sit down with some friends, talk Bourbon and sample many of Kentucky’s finest!