During presentations I am often asked about visiting Kentucky and where does the Kentucky Bourbon Trail begin? Historically, I would tell them to start where it was most convenient based on their travels. It would depend on whether they would be close to Lexington, Louisville, or even Bardstown. This advice is still relevant, however, there is now an official location where the Kentucky Bourbon Trail begins.
In August of 2018, the Frazier Museum in Louisville, Kentucky opened the Kentucky Bourbon Welcome Center which serves as the starting point of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. You can see maps indicating the locations of the member distilleries as well as find a larger than normal selection of bourbon-related merchandise and souvenirs. All of this is interesting and serves as a jumping off point to begin your Kentucky Bourbon Trail journey.
The museum offers a great deal more with The Spirit of Kentucky exhibit. Experiencing the covered bridge with its projected images of magnificent Kentucky scenery is worth the price of admission. Fortunately, the exhibit goes on to visually explain the dramatic history of water, farming, coopering, and the familiar nature of the bourbon industry. You can see interactive views of distilleries and distilling families, and how many of them have been instrumental in supporting one another.
There is an interactive “Gracious Table” in the “Gracious Room” that is an astounding digital library of bourbon. This perpetually growing exhibit catalogs people, places, and things that are relevant to the bourbon phenomenon.
For the true “Bourbonfool” there are two very different bottle displays. The first is a room filled with glass cases housing a multitude of vintage whiskeys — bottles that you will recognize with names such as Old Crow and Old Grand Dad along with obscure bottles such as Richland Whiskey and Bottoms Up Bourbon. They even have a bottle of Bourbon De Luxe on display. A Pot Still and a Column Still serve as centerpieces in this area.
When you are departing the exhibit, you can pass through “Bottle Hall.” This area is a corridor with a collection of over 500 bottles of bourbon. This stockpile represents every bourbon brand currently produced in the state of Kentucky.
The Spirit of Kentucky exhibit at the Frazier History Museum is worth seeing. You can get a well-rounded explanation of both bourbon history and why Kentucky is synonymous with superb whiskey. As a bonus, it could be the only museum you will visit that sells bottles of your favorite bourbon in the gift shop. The Frazier History Museum is located at 829 West Main Street in Louisville, Kentucky.