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Kentucky Culinary Trails

Culinary Trails

If you are a culinary explorer, you’ll enjoy travelling to discover new and different food & bourbon experiences in every area of Kentucky. These trails listed offer an opportunity to experience local Kentucky cuisine through different themes as you travel across this beautiful state. Craving some Kentucky BBQ? There’s a trail for that. Bourbon enthusiasts can follow the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® to the state’s top distilleries tasting and touring. Whether for a day or a week, these food tours and trails offer something edible and exciting to savour on your next getaway. 

Kentucky Bourbon Trail®

The Kentucky Bourbon Trail® allows visitors the opportunity to experience seven of Kentucky’s distilleries where its world-famous Kentucky bourbon is made. Since 1999 when the Kentucky Distiller’s Association opened the KBT, visitors have been able to learn first-hand about the art and science of bourbon-making and its rich heritage and tradition in Kentucky. The Kentucky Distillers’ Association formed the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® tour to give visitors a first-hand look at the art and science of crafting Bourbon, and educate about the rich history and proud tradition of Kentucky’s signature spirit.

It began in the 1700s with the first settlers of Kentucky. Like most farmers and frontiersmen, they found that getting crops to market over narrow trails and steep mountains was a daunting task. They soon learned that converting corn and other grains to whiskey made them easily transportable, prevented the excess grain from simply rotting, and gave them some welcome diversion from the rough life of the frontier.

Since then, generations of Kentuckians have continued the heritage and time-honoured tradition of making fine Bourbon, unchanged from the process used by their ancestors’ centuries before.

So how did it get the name Bourbon? Well, one of Kentucky’s original counties was Bourbon County, established in 1785 when Kentucky was still part of Virginia.

Farmers shipped their whiskey in oak barrels — stamped from Bourbon County — down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to New Orleans. The long trip aged the whiskey, with the oak wood giving it the distinct mellow flavour and amber colour.

Pretty soon, whiskey from Bourbon County grew in popularity and became known as Bourbon whiskey.

In 1964, Congress officially recognized Bourbon’s place in history — and its future — by declaring it a distinctive product of the United States. Or, as we like to say, “America’s Official Native Spirit.”

Louisville & The Bourbon, Horses & History

This region really celebrates the America’s only native spirit. Travel throughout Bourbon Country and take in the many sites and attractions that toast the regions signature export. Discover heritage sites, working distillery tours, testing rooms, a whiskey museum, cooperages and much more. Experience joins classics such as the Jim Beam American Stillhouse, Heaven Hill Distilleries Bourbon Heritage Centre, Barton 1792 Distillery and Maker’s Mark. Craft distilleries, such as Willet distillery and Limestone Branch complete the landscape. The newest edition to the region is the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, located on Louisville’s historic “Whiskey Row”.

Lexington & the Bluegrass Region

The Bluegrass Region is also in the centre of Bourbon Country. With the opening of Alltech’s Town Branch Distillery and two new craft distilleries—Wilderness Trace Distillery and Barrel House Distillery—the Region has among the newest stops on the internationally acclaimed Kentucky Bourbon Trail®.

Woodford Reserve Distillery, the oldest and one of the smallest distilleries in Kentucky, sits on picturesque Glenn’s Creek in the rolling horse country of Woodford County. With a distilling tradition dating back to the early 1800s, Woodford Reserve now produces the official bourbon of the Kentucky Derby, Belmont Stakes and England’s Epsom Derby.

Both Wild Turkey Distillery and Four Roses Distillery are in the town of Lawrenceburg. Wild Turkey, occupying the crest of a hill overlooking the Kentucky River, opened in 1855 as a grocery store specializing in tea, coffee and, of course, spirits. The distillery’s most unique feature is the 40-foot column still.

Four Roses, with its Spanish mission style of architecture, may look slightly out of place in the Bluegrass, but its signature bourbons are pure Kentucky.

Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort is the oldest continuously operating distillery in the United States and the first to market single barrel bourbon commercially. The distillery’s setting lies at the intersection of the Kentucky River.

Louisville's Urban Bourbon Trail®

Once you have visited the bourbon distilleries in and around Louisville and central Kentucky, you will certainly want to explore the city’s “urban bourbon” scene. Whether you are interested in bourbon’s place in the history and heritage of the city, or you want to be a part of the new, modern urban scene, the Louisville Urban Bourbon Trail is where you want to be.

The establishments on the Urban Bourbon Trail vary from historic hotel properties that once served Kentucky whiskey to the likes of Al Capone and F. Scott Fitzgerald to cosmopolitan “scenes” where urban trend-setters are making retro drinks such as the Old-Fashioned and Manhattan in vogue again. Five are in downtown hotels, four have been internationally recognised and all are serving up bourbon-inspired dining. All offer bourbon flights, special bourbon cocktails and all have at least 50 different bourbon labels on the bar with trained staff that can explain the nuances and tasting notes in the varied offerings from Jim Beam Black to Elmer T. Lee.

There are two ways to travel the Urban Bourbon Trail – with a printed booklet style passport or an electronic version. You can pick up your free passport at the Visitors Center (4th and Jefferson Streets in downtown Louisville) or at any of the participating stops (just ask your server). You can also download an electronic passport using the iPhone or Android app.

Stamp collecting has never been so much fun. When you’re traveling along the Urban Bourbon Trail, you’re in for cocktails classic and modern, live music, and the bourbon-inspired creativity of Louisville’s best bartenders and chefs. Each stop is well stocked with anywhere from 50 to 150 varieties of Kentucky’s signature spirit.

Brewgrass Trail

Although Kentucky is known the world over as the epicentre for all things bourbon, craft breweries have begun to make a notable place for themselves in Kentucky’s cuisine scene. And Lexington has an exciting and growing craft beer community. Read more...

Beer Cheese Trail

Kentucky Beer Cheese has been made and served in Winchester and Clark County since the 1940’s. It all started on the Kentucky River where Johnnie Allman served his cousin's, Joe's Snappy Cheese at the historic Driftwood Inn. Today, the Beer Cheese Trail consists of several restaurants. No beer cheese in the world is more authentic than the kind made in Clark County. Grab an Official Beer Cheese Trail Cheese Log at a participating restaurant and get started:

  • Purchase any beer cheese item from the menu
  • Enjoy the delicious beer cheese
  • Collect your stamp for your Cheese Log
  • Repeat steps 1-3 at a minimum of five restaurants

Return your Cheese Log to the Winchester Tourism office for a free t-shirt! Become a Beer Cheese Ambassador by conquering all eight stops and receive a t-shirt, a "cheesy" award, and be entered into a drawing to become a Beer Cheese Festival Judge. Here's how you can make your own beer cheese to try at home:


  • 1 lb. smoked cheddar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1.5 oz. Bourbon
  • 2 oz. pickled jalapeno plus juice
  • 3 oz. Bourbon Barrel Stout Beer


Combine all ingredients in food processor until spread-like consistency is achieved. Serve with crackers, vegetables sticks or anything else you'd like to dip.

Full details on the whole trail and all the restaurants included are listed on the Official Beer Cheese Trail website.

More Bluegrass Recipes

From spicy goetta sausage and beer cheese to bubbling burgoo and bourbon balls, Kentucky’s talented chefs serve up an authentic taste of the Bluegrass at restaurants all across the state. Follow the link for recipes from some of the best with videos showing you how to make them at home. So tie on your apron, grab a pan and you’ll be creating your own Bluegrass favourites in no time all!

Sweets Trail

Whether you are in search of handmade Kentucky chocolates, perfect doughnuts, mile-high meringue pie, Derby Pie®, or some world-famous bourbon balls, you can find it all in Kentucky. You’ll visit culinary icons such as Rebecca Ruth Candy Company, famous for first making the bourbon-filled Kentucky chocolates known as Bourbon Balls. You’ll also get to savour creations from up-and-coming sweets shops such as the allergy-friendly Annie May’s Sweet Café. This trail takes you through some of Kentucky’s most popular spots for dining, shopping and fun, including Lexington, Louisville, Bowling Green and Paducah and includes. Read more...

Bon Appetit Appalachia

Bon Appétit Appalachia includes farm tours, farmers markets, farm-to-fork restaurants, festivals and events, vineyards and wineries and craft breweries in Kentucky’s Appalachia region. Some of the best places you can visit, read more...

Western Kentucky BBQ Trail

Want to taste some of the best barbecue in Kentucky? Just like Kansas, Texas or Memphis, western Kentucky has its own unique style of barbeque. And people come from around the country and the world just to get a taste of this food. The trail begins in the city of Louisville and moves through western KY all the way to Paducah, hitting 15 restaurants serving up incredible slow-cooked pork and chicken: Country Fresh Meats Farmers Market (Sturgis); Thomason's Barbecue (Henderson); Dave's Sticky Pig (Madisonville); Good Ole Boys Bar-B-Q (Hanson); Brother's Bar-B-Que (Madisonville); Woodshed Pit Barbecue (Hopkinsville); Peak Brothers BBQ (Waverly); Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn (Owensboro); Old Hickory Pit Barbecue(Owensboro); Ole South Barbecue (Owensboro); Knoth's Bar-B-Q (Grand Rivers); Hutchens BBQ (Benton); Starnes Bar-B-Q (Paducah).


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