From craft to the world’s largest bourbon producers, there are currently over 14 distilleries that invite visitors to learn about their brands and have a taste.
Learn about Kentucky bourbon history and take a behind-the-scenes Kentucky distillery tours. The scenic drives to each of these historic attractions are like pictures waiting to be taken. While on these Kentucky distillery tours, make a stop in charming Bardstown and tour the impressive mansion that is known as “My Old Kentucky Home.” The bourbon distilleries in Bourbon Country will imbue you not only with tastes of the distilled spirit for which Kentucky is famous, but also with the spirit of its people, proud to be the makers of “America’s Native Spirit.”
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.”