Travel + Leisure (USA)

Maker’s Mark

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One of the most important ingredient­s in Kentucky bourbon isn’t the whiskey aging inside the barrel, but rather the material of the barrel itself: American white oak. That’s why eighthgene­ration distiller and Maker’s Mark scion Rob Samuels is determined to preserve the trees native to North America at the label’s Star Hill Farm in Loretto, Kentucky.

More than 300 white oak varieties are being planted in what will one day be the largest repository of the species anywhere. Scientists from the University of Kentucky are working with Maker’s Mark to study the new plantings, as well as MM1, Star Hill Farm’s oldest tree, estimated to be between 300 and

500 years old. Their research aims to identify current and future threats to the oaks, which add billions of dollars to rural economies each year.

Maker’s Mark has also installed a solar array, establishe­d the region’s first widespread recycling program, and converted to a regenerati­ve farming system that will eventually make the distillery energyinde­pendent. Samuels hopes the new initiative­s will help to create a greener standard for whiskey producers throughout Kentucky and the United States. “We realize that the greatest proven farming practices—no matter how amazing for the environmen­t—must still be profitable for farmers,” he says. “By modeling these practices on Star Hill Farm and sharing our findings, we believe our growers will want to adopt them as well.” makersmark. com.— H.M.

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 ?? ?? MM1, the oldest tree at Star Hill Farm, in Kentucky. Top: White oak barrels in the Maker’s
Mark distillery.
MM1, the oldest tree at Star Hill Farm, in Kentucky. Top: White oak barrels in the Maker’s Mark distillery.

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