Kentucky -bonbon 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 (5.2MB 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. Want to take all of this info with you? Our Trip Planner, distillery details, cocktail recipes and so much more can be held in your hands when you purchase our Kentucky Bourbon Trail Almanac.
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 their Heaven & Evan tour or their Maker’s Mark After Dark Experience.
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.
When visiting the Lexington area, we also recommend Central Kentucky Tours. Let them be your guide to bourbon distilleries and other unique sites throughout Central Kentucky.
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.
Pick up a Kentucky Bourbon Trail® passport and 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 new facility is an immersive, artisan tour right in the heart of downtown Louisville on the famed Whiskey Row.
While downtown, make sure to stop in the Greater Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau to discover everything the city has to offer. Make a short detour to 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. Need a place to stay afterward? The Marriott Louisville 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. Before you hit the road, make sure to stock up on your favorite bottles – and maybe some hard to find gems – from Westport Whiskey & Wine. Show your Kentucky Bourbon Trail® or Craft Tour passport and ask about their discounts and special offers! Step back in time at the Frazier Museum when you visit their newest exhibit – Spirits of the Bluegrass: Prohibition and Kentucky.
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. (See Day 3 for the Four Roses distillery tour). You can get your Passport stamped at either location – and even save on admission fees if you tour both within 60 days.
Shepherdsville is a perfect and convenient place to go shopping, dine or lay your head after so much Bourbon education–making it an Official Trailhead of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail™. Don’t miss the Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest across from Jim Beam. Bullitt County also is home to the famous Zappo’s shoe outlet, if you need new treads for your trip.
On the outskirts of Bardstown, an Official Trailhead of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail™, you will find the Heaven Hill Bourbon Heritage Center. 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 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. Need a treat? For the best in local food, hospitality and cocktails, make reservations at the Harrison-Smith House.
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. Grab a bite at the Tollhouse Café on your way out.
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.
On your way to dinner and a hotel, 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. Next you can head north 10 miles to Harrodsburg, Kentucky’s first settlement, and check into the historic Beaumont Inn or the picturesque Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Beaumont 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. At Shaker Village, stay in one of the restored period buildings, dine on traditional fare made with straight-from-the-garden ingredients, and take time to explore the many historic areas on site. Hiking trails, exciting tours, and wonderful staff add to a great Kentucky experience!
They’ve been making whiskey in Anderson County for centuries, and two historic distilleries are waiting to share their timeless 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. While in the Wild Turkey gift shop, keep an eye out for Old Limestone Mixing Water – the perfect limestone filtered water to mingle with your favorite Kentucky Bourbons.
The scenery doesn’t get much better than that of 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. 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. Or jump the tracks for a more casual affair – take Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives star Guy Fieri’s word for it and visit Wallace Station Deli just down scenic U.S 62, one of the prettiest drives in the commonwealth.
At this point your passport is tired and ragged but you only need one more stamp to get that KBTTM shirt. 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 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.
For an art-filled escape, retreat to 21c Museum Hotel, a combination boutique hotel, contemporary art museum and restaurant in the heart of downtown Lexington. Dine at Lockbox restaurant for cuisine highlighting the region’s best ingredients, then hit the bar to sample over 60 fine Bourbons and Ryes. End the day by exploring one of 21c Lexington’s current art exhibitions.
Need great drinks and cuisine? Try the new Distilled at Gratz Park Inn for the best in fine dining. With great Bourbon, food, shopping and horses, what better place is there to end your Kentucky Bourbon Trail® experience than Lexington – another Official Trailhead of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail™?!
With your passport now complete, you can pick up your shirt at the welcome centers for Louisville, Bardstown, Lebanon, Shepherdsville and Lexington tourism. Click here for addresses and hours of operation.
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!