Kentucky Bourbon has a rich and storied history dating back 200 years—so we encourage you to relax, take your time and savor the experience. Just as our fine Kentucky Bourbon takes time to reach perfection, you’ll want to plan accordingly to truly appreciate your Kentucky Bourbon Trail® journey. Download Our Brochure (6.8MB PDF)We recommend at least three days exploring our legendary distilleries and all that our beloved Commonwealth has to offer. Three or four days will allow plenty of time to complete your Kentucky Bourbon Trail® Passport, visit some of our Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour™ members, take in a horse farm or other unique Bluegrass attraction and enjoy classic Kentucky cuisine, cocktails and culture. While the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® tour has no beginning or end, it’s probably best to plan your trip based on the charming communities and cities where you’d like to spend the night. There’s something for everyone – big-city nightlife, quaint country towns, Bourbon-themed hotels and historic bed & breakfast accommodations. (Keep in mind that our latest brochure reflects only 8 of our 9 member distilleries. Your passport will indicate all 9. Please plan to include a visit to the Bulleit Frontier Whiskey Experience into your trip to complete your passport and redeem your free gift.)
If all that sounds overwhelming and you want someone else to do all the driving and planning, check out our friends at Mint Julep Tours. They have a wide variety of options, no matter how large or small your group or the length of your trip. Their experienced guides lead you from iconic distillery to distillery and all the fun places and landmarks in between. Be sure to check out some of their specialty tours like the Maker’s Mark After Dark Experience and Jim Beam Super Premium Tour.
R &R Limousine Service also offers great service and custom top-shelf packages tailored just for you based on the time you wish to spend and what distilleries you’d like to visit. Some packages even include a $25 gift card to spend at distillery gift shops.
We’ve had lots of questions about experiencing the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® tour by bicycles, motorcycles — even by horse! The professionals at the Bluegrass Cycling Club have created safe routes for cyclists that offer scenic back roads with less traffic. There are three loops to choose from with detailed map and cue sheets here. If you’d rather drive yourself, make sure to check out our map page with easy turn-by-turn directions. Our staff drove these routes over and over, so trust us – it’s the easiest and most convenient way between distilleries. Simply choose the city to start your trip, then drag and drop the distillery barrels in the order you’d like to visit. The site will then generate driving directions that can’t be beat. You can also click here to request your official Kentucky State Highway Map. Here are some tips and suggestions to plan your Kentucky Bourbon Trail® adventure. You’re one step closer to our picturesque distilleries – and the incredible tasting of America’s only native spirit with each and every tour.
With great Bourbon, food, shopping and horses, what better place is there to begin your Kentucky Bourbon Trail® experience?! Stop in to the Lexington Visitor’s Center for info on great additions to your trip, and begin your Bourbon tours right down the road. Alltech’s Town Branch Distillery, named after the limestone stream that runs through the city, is your first stop and a relatively new addition to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® family. You won’t be disappointed by the tour of this stunning new distillery in the center of downtown Lexington near Rupp Arena and the Lexington Visitor’s Center. 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. Need a great drinks, cuisine and relaxation? Stop into Enoteca for cocktails and tapas on their patio. For accommodations nearby, the Gratz Park Inn is a wonderful choice with its historic charm and boutique amenities. Make your way through the beautiful horse country for an unforgettable meal at the Holly Hill Inn nestled in the trees on the outskirts of Midway. If that doesn’t float your boat, take Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives star Guy Fieri’s word for it and visit Wallace Station Deli in Versailles.
The scenery doesn’t get much better here in Woodford County, home of several Kentucky Derby winners, dozens of beautiful thoroughbred farms and even a genuine castle! A breathtaking 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. The daily fare usually includes Kentucky favorites such as country ham, barbeque and homemade desserts. For something different, head back to downtown Versailles, check into the Woodford Inn and feast in the onsite restaurant, Addie’s Restaurant & Bar. You could always make the short trip back to Lexington to visit the Keeneland racetrack, the Kentucky Horse Park, or just rest up after a cocktail at any of Lexington’s many famed restaurants and bars.
Time to give ‘em the bird! They’ve been making whiskey in Anderson County for centuries, and two historic distilleries are waiting to share their timeless secrets. Lawrenceburg is only a few miles from Lexington, where Wild Turkey Distillery sits atop the Kentucky River. Take a wonderful tour of their new state-of-the-art distillery — the first built from scratch in Kentucky since Prohibition — 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. Their brand-new visitor’s center is scheduled to open in May/June of 2013. Just eight short miles away is Four Roses Distillery, named the “American Distillery of the Year” by Whisky Magazine for four straight years. 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. Take U.S. 127 South to Harrodsburg, Kentucky’s first settlement, and check into the historic Beaumont Inn. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the inn has 31 guest rooms, spa and massage services and offers delicious Southern cuisine. Don’t miss the adjoining Old Owl Tavern and their generous selection of Bourbon brands. Call to setup your own Innkeeper’s Bourbon Tasting with house bourbon specialist, Dixon Dedman.
With every Kentucky Bourbon Trail® distillery within a 90 minute radius of this historic area, and one Craft Distillery located downtown, Danville-Boyle County makes the perfect hub for your Bourbon experience. Wilderness Trail Distillery uses local grains and their signature distillation process to produce its spirits right here in Danville – after your tour make sure to venture into downtown. Danville-Boyle County has many idyllic main streets and historic attractions, in addition to its wealth of shopping, dining, in addition to its world-class entertainment venues. Drop in to the Visitor’s Center for a warm smile and helpful tips for your exploration. If you’d rather get a jump on the next round of distilleries, take the Bluegrass Parkway and head towards Bardstown, the Bourbon Capital of the World®, or Shepherdsville in Bullitt County, the home of Jim Beam. Both cities are Official Trailheads of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail™.
Lebanon is literally the “heart” of Kentucky — it’s the geographic center of the Bluegrass State–and now an Official Trailhead of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail™. There’s a lot of history in this small town with the Civil War Trail and the John Hunt Morgan Trail. Grab a snack downtown and then stop by the beautiful Limestone Branch Distillery, a founding member of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour™. Steve Beam and his crew will let you sample some of their handmade “sugar shine” products.
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. This is one area of the tour where cell coverage is a little spotty, so put down the phone and enjoy this can’t-miss stop and its picturesque grounds, Whisky Creek and educational tour.
On the outskirts of Bardstown, an Official Trailhead of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail™ , you will see the Heaven Hill Bourbon Heritage Center. Here you can choose between several different tours including the Behind the Scenes Tour (appt. required). At the conclusion of each tour you get a complimentary tasting in the barrel-shaped tasting room (naturally). Before heading back downtown, drop by Willett Distillery, only a stone’s throw from Heaven Hill Distilleries. You are now in Bardstown, the Bourbon Capital of the World® and the recently voted Most Beautiful Small Town in America! Don’t miss an opportunity to dine on classic Kentucky fare in the Old Talbott Tavern, have a nightcap in the “world’s oldest bourbon bar”, and even spend the night if you feel so inclined. For unique Bourbon artifacts, peruse the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History. Also make sure to stop by the Kentucky Bourbon Marketplace – your one stop shop for one-of-a-kind Bourbon souvenirs, gifts, bottles and even a Bourbon cocktail at their barrel stave bar.
At this point your passport is tired and ragged but you only need a few more stamps to get that Kentucky Bourbon Trail® t-shirt. Jim Beam Distillery is your next stop, but we hope you saved some strength because you will not want to miss a second of this experience! Step into the new Jim Beam American Stillhouse to begin the interactive, multi-sensory tour. Shepherdsville is a perfect and convenient place to lay your head after so much bourbon education–making it an Official Trailhead of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail™
Take a quick detour from I-65 to visit the Bulleit Experience at the iconic Stitzel-Weller facility on the outskirts of Louisville. This brand new experience tells the story of Bulleit’s well-known brand on the hallowed grounds of this historic site.
The ideal way to celebrate completing your passport is with a stop at the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience. This fantastic new facility is an immersive experience right in the heart of downtown Louisville and its famed Whiskey Row. Need a place to stay afterward? The Louisville Marriott East is Kentucky’s only bourbon themed hotel. Ask about booking the Bourbon suite complete with Bourbon-barrel decor. Enjoy a “Bourbon of the day” and other nightly drink specials at Charr’d Bourbon Kitchen and Lounge.
While in Louisville make sure to stop by Art Eatables to indulge in a Small-Batch Bourbon Truffle that will melt your perception of what “luxurious” can be. Complete your day in Louisville with a Bourbon-themed dinner at Bourbons Bistro, Louisville’s foremost Bourbon bar, located in the historic Clifton district. With a selection of more than 130 Bourbons, including an exclusive barrel selection program, Bourbons Bistro has a seasonal menu that is Bourbon inspired and locally sourced. See why Bourbons Bistro has been awarded the Gold Medal from Whisky Magazine’s “Whisky Bars of the World.”
Also, don’t forget to make sure to stop in the Louisville Visitor Center to discover everything the city has to offer, and to pick up your free t-shirt after completing your passport! You’ve now seen, tasted and learned more about Kentucky heritage than most of your friends will ever dream of. Dinner party conversation doesn’t stand a chance against the likes of your knowledge. You know terms of varying complexity such as “oaky”, “spicy”, “leathery” and “angel’s share.” You’re armed with serious whiskey knowhow and are now a true spokesperson for Kentucky Bourbon. Obviously, you can reverse course and start in the Louisville/Shepherdsville area and head toward Bardstown and Lexington. Or pick and choose to make your own itinerary—this is only our suggestion to make things as stress-free as possible.
Want more? Check out our Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour Trip Planner (coming soon)!