They say that a goal without a plan is just a wish. If your goal is to sip the world’s best Bourbons and explore the iconic distilleries on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail®–you’ve gotta have a plan. And that includes booking tours and experiences well in advance.
Why, you ask? Because a lot has changed since the KBT® was born back in 1999. Bourbon is bigger than ever. We’ve gone from six distilleries to 42, and from cult following to global phenomenon. It’s an honor to share America’s spirit with whiskey lovers worldwide, and we couldn’t be more excited about our growth.
Our distilleries and tourism partners are working hard to make sure your visit is as smooth as Kentucky Bourbon, but there’s one thing we all want you to know. The best way to secure your spot at the distilleries you’ve been dreaming about is to book reservations ahead of time.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when planning your trip:
1. PLAN YOUR ROUTE FIRST.
Before you sip, stroll and savor your way through Kentucky’s world-famous distilleries, make sure to plan your route. Our distilleries are spread across 800 miles–and you don’t want to go in blind for the adventure. (Unless you’re sharing a flight with friends and want to up the ante on your tasting experience!)
Not sure where to begin? Don’t worry–we’ve mapped out itineraries by city and region on our website. The Bourbon Trail™ Passport and Field Guide is also a great place to start planning your perfect itinerary.
2. DON’T WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE TO BOOK.
Keep in mind that our KBT® and KBTCT® distilleries attract nearly 2 million combined annual visits and people travel from around the world to visit them. This means that many of our distilleries, especially the larger ones, book out months in advance.
Every distillery has its own limits for how many visitors they can accommodate each day, and they often book up fast. Most distilleries have online reservation options, or you can book through one of our trusted transportation partners.
3. KNOW THAT MOST DISTILLERIES CANNOT ACCOMMODATE WALK-INS.
As much as our distilleries would love to welcome anyone who arrives on a whim, chances are mighty slim you will get the experience you want without a reservation. The last thing we want is for anyone to get turned away because their bucket list distillery is full upon arrival. (Talk about a gut punch to the barrel)
If you plan on visiting any of the 18 KBT® distilleries, you need to book well in advance. Walk-ins are welcome at several of the smaller distilleries on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour®, but before showing up, we recommend visiting their websites or calling ahead to get the latest information on available tours and experiences.
4. DON’T FORGET TO MAKE RESTAURANT RESERVATIONS, TOO.
You can’t Bourbon without eating and hydrating–so make sure to plan accordingly.
Kentucky’s growing foodie scene is among the best in the country, with hundreds of outstanding restaurants to choose from. From mouthwatering Bourbon-inspired fare at casual cafes on distillery grounds to fine dining with local flair, Kentucky’s food is almost as good as our Bourbon. *almost*
5. REMEMBER TO RESPECT THE TRAIL.
Here in Kentucky, we live by a few simple rules you’ll be expected to follow when visiting our distilleries. You can learn more in the Bourbon Trail™ Passport and Field Guide, but here are a few quick reminders:
- Be kind. Treat others the way you want to be treated. There’s no place for hate on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail®.
- Be responsible. Know your limits. Don’t put others at risk. Plan safe rides. Eat and stay hydrated.
- Be respectful. To our people, our spirits and the cities we call home.
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