Explore the birthplace of bourbon and embark on your own tasting tour around Kentucky – from distilleries, trails and tours to cocktail bars putting a new spin on America’s native spirit.
If you want to discover (and taste) the true spirit of Kentucky, you come to Bourbon Country. According to legend, it was here that Elijah Craig – a Baptist minister by trade – first aged corn whiskey in a charred oak barrel back in 1789, creating the original batch of Kentucky bourbon.
Today, America’s native spirit is crafted with pride and care only in the Bluegrass State. Whether you’re visiting for the first time or coming back for another round, Kentucky has a bourbon experience for every taste.
Kentucky Bourbon has a rich and storied history dating back 200 years—so we encourage you to relax, take your time and savour the experience. Just as the fine Kentucky Bourbon takes time to reach perfection, you’ll want to plan accordingly to truly appreciate your journey. We recommend at least three days exploring the legendary distilleries and all that the Commonwealth has to offer. There is no wrong way to route your experience throughout Kentucky, but it’s best to plan your trip based on the charming communities and cities where you’d like to spend the night.
Begin your journey at the Bulleit Frontier Whiskey Experience at the iconic Stitzel-Weller facility on the outskirts of Louisville. This new experience tells the story of Bulleit’s well-known brand on the hallowed grounds of this iconic site (Keep in mind that Bulleit is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, so plan accordingly). Drive a short 5 miles to Main Street to tour the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience. This fantastic facility is an immersive, artisan tour right in the heart of downtown Louisville on the famed Whiskey Row. Complete your day in Louisville with a Bourbon-themed dinner at Bourbons Bistro, Louisville’s foremost Bourbon bar, located in the historic Clifton district.
Start day two by stepping into the Jim Beam American Stillhouse for their interactive, multi-sensory tour. If you can stick around for lunch you’ll enjoy freshly smoked BBQ and delicious sides at Fred’s Smokehouse, named after 7th generation Master Distiller Fred Noe. Just south of Jim Beam lies the Four Roses Warehouse and Bottling Facility at Cox’s Creek. This is a separate Four Roses tour that focuses on its warehouse and bottling operations.
On the outskirts of Bardstown you will find the Heaven Hill Bourbon Heritage Centre. Here you can choose between several different tours including the Behind the Scenes Tour (appointment required) and receive a complimentary tasting in the barrel-shaped tasting room (naturally). Before heading downtown, drop by Willett Distillery, only a stone’s throw from Heaven Hill.
You are now in Bardstown, the Bourbon Capital of the World® and previously voted Most Beautiful Small Town in America! Don’t miss an opportunity to dine at Bottle and Bond Kitchen and Bar - the modern Kentucky experience new to the bourbon scene sourced locally and serving both Kentucky classics and other fine flavours from across the world. Just looking for a treat? Try a boozy milkshake that you will be sure not to want to share! For unique Bourbon artefacts, peruse the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History. The museum includes exhibits on President Washington, Abraham Lincoln, authentic moonshine stills, antique bottles and jugs, medicinal whiskey bottles, unique advertising art, novelty whiskey container, and much more. If you have a shopper amongst your traveling partners stop into any of the shops downtown and you will be sure to have to look at your watch to get them moving to the next itinerary item.
Next, head down the winding roads to the home of Maker’s Mark Distillery, a National Historic Landmark nestled in the rolling hills of Marion County. There are plenty of signs to get you there in time to dip your own souvenir bottle in their signature red wax.
Before you call it a day, stop by Danville to see one of our craft members. Wilderness Trail Distillery uses local grains and their signature distillation process to produce its spirits right here in Danville. Finish out the evening at Copper and Oak restaurant where you can carry the on with the bourbon spirit with a variety of versions of the old fashion cocktail or indulge in the self-proclaimed drop-dead delicious burgers.
They’ve been making whiskey in Anderson County for centuries, and two historic distilleries are waiting to share their secrets. Lawrenceburg is just down the Bluegrass Parkway, where you can jump on a tour at the Four Roses Distillery. You’re sure to fall in love with the romantic story behind this iconic brand and the unique Spanish Mission style architecture. Stop and smell the roses – literally – that are abundant on the grounds, or chill out for your own “mellow moment” in the gazebo and barrel swing. Just 8 short miles away is where the Wild Turkey Distillery sits atop the Kentucky River. Come see “the house that Jimmy built” – take a wonderful tour of their new state-of-the-art distillery and look for legendary Master Distiller Jimmy Russell roaming the grounds. Jimmy’s been crafting bourbon for 60 years and is always willing to sign a bottle or pose for a picture.
From there you can head to Woodford County or the capital city of Frankfort where you can find Buffalo Trace Distillery. Buffalo Trace Distillery is rich and history and prides themselves on never being compromised. Be it floods, fires, tornadoes and the dreadful Prohibition period, the American family-owned distillery has remained dedicated to respecting the past but continuing to strive for an innovative future. Pro tip: before you leave the property be sure to visit the gift shop. If you see Blanton’s Bourbon on the shelf, purchase it! Blanton’s Original Single Barrel Bourbon is so popular the distillery has limited the purchase to one bottle per person every three months!
The scenery doesn’t get much better than that of Woodford County, home of several Kentucky Derby winners, dozens of Holly Hill beautiful thoroughbred farms and even a genuine castle! A breath-taking drive past some of the world’s fastest horses will bring you to the historic Woodford Reserve Distillery. Once you have lifted your jaw from the ground, you can jump on the hourly Bourbon Discovery Tour. Call ahead for availability and reservations for the extended National Landmark Tour and the Corn to Cork Tour that are offered at different times of the week. So far, so good...it’s time to eat! While at Woodford Reserve, grab a bite from the seasonal offerings of Picnic on the Porch.
We hope you saved some strength because you will not want to miss AllTech’s Town Branch Distillery, named after the limestone stream that runs through Lexington. It’s the only “brewstillery” on your journey, and it’s conveniently located in the centre of downtown Lexington near Rupp Arena and the Lexington Visitor’s Centre. Make sure to sample their Bluegrass Sundown, a popular Bourbon-infused coffee drink while learning about the city’s deep Bourbon roots and Bluegrass heritage. If you have time, pop over to Barrel House Distilling Co., less than a mile away from Town Branch. It’s one of the founding members of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour® and features many unique products to sample.
Please do get in touch with us for any further information!