My unofficial guide to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.
The Kentucky Bourbon Trail is a wonderful starting point to explore and experience the world of Bourbon. However, we learned very early that there are several additional stops along the way that will provide a well-rounded experience.
Willett Distillery: My nomination for “if I only had time to visit one distillery which one would you choose?” The distillery is large enough to explain the bourbon process properly but small enough to make you feel right at home. Outstanding people, along with various choices of fine bourbons, make this a must visit.
Kentucky Cooperage: This is a great opportunity to see the production of American bourbon barrels. The tour itself is not long, but it is fascinating to see and understand the barrel making process. Seeing the charring of barrels is worth the visit. Stop by the Yellowstone distillery when you are in the area.
Buffalo Trace Distillery: While not an official part of the Bourbon trail it is a must visit. Not only is the distillery unique and historical, but it sits on a large campus. Multiple tour options are available, and tastings are free of charge.
Makers Mark Distillery: Perhaps the most iconic and beautiful distillery campus you can visit. Unique buildings, beautiful grounds, and one of the largest gift shops you will find. Dipping your bottle in red wax is a must.
Bardstown Kentucky: This city has a spot on this list because the area is bourbon ground zero. You have multiple distilleries of all sizes. Throw in the Oscar Getz whiskey museum as well as the Old Talbott Tavern, Rickhouse Restaurant, and shopping at the Kentucky Bourbon Marketplace. For more on Bardstown see my previous post!
Wild Turkey Distillery: Wild Turkey has history, and is a unique experience. The view of the bridges over the Kentucky River is worth the trip here. Plus there is a good chance for you to meet and shake hands with Jimmy Russell the legendary master distiller – end of story. Watch for more on Mr. Russell in a future post.
Multiple Kentucky Liquor Stores: For anyone interested in Bourbon a trip to a Kentucky liquor store is an eye-opening experience. You can expand your collection and see a great variety of products. Some of our favorites are; multiple Liquor Barn locations throughout Kentucky, The Party Source across the river from Cincinnati, and Westport Whiskey and Wine near Louisville.
Town Branch Distillery: A sentimental favorite because it was the first distillery visit and tour we ever experienced. A modern distillery that also houses a brewery. You owe it to yourself to try the Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale. It is one of the finest craft beers I have ever tasted. I enjoy Town Branch bourbon, and this is the location that initiated the “bourbon fool” infatuation.
Various restaurants: While traveling through Bourbon country the idea is to eat where the locals eat whenever possible: In Lexington, Malones Steak House, in Bardstown, The Rickhouse, in Louisville, The Brown Hotel. Each of these has a great selection of Bourbons to accompany your meal.
Jim Beam distillery: If you can overlook your bourbon dispensed electronically, the Beam name is an easily recognized brand. The tour has improved, and you can purchase your personalized bottle of Knob Creek. There is a good barbeque location on site.