Lebanon is literally the “heart” of Kentucky — it’s the geographic center of the Bluegrass State–and 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 KBT Craft Tour®. 7th generation Beams – Steve & Paul – will let you sample some of their award-winning products including the Yellowstone Bourbon and Minor Case Rye.
You’ve seen how the whiskey is made. You’ve learned how to mix it in a cocktail. But have you ever seen the skilled craftsmen bending the staves to make the barrels, hammering on the rings, and charring the insides with a big burst of flame? Now you can! Book a cooperage tour at the Independent Stave Company in Lebanon and leave smelling like our favorite perfume – charred oak. (close-toed shoes required)
Next destination – Danville: the birthplace of Kentucky. Enjoy the beauty of the Bluegrass as you stroll through the vibrant downtown while taking in the historic, small-town charm. Make reservations at The Still at AMBRAbev for Brazilian-inspired fare and cocktails.
Settle in to the historic Beaumont Inn for dining, drinks and relaxation in Kentucky’s first settlement. 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.
If you access Lexington via Lawrenceburg, swing by Sweet Mash Southern Goods & Spirits for unique Bourbon gifts, trendy accessories, southern staples and a curated cocktail collection of Kentucky spirits, wines, and bar must-haves. They’ve been making whiskey in Anderson County for centuries, and this historic town is waiting to share their timeless secrets. If you find yourself just up the road in Frankfort, set sail on the Bourbon Boat to learn about the area’s history along the river.
Lexington’s Barrel House Distillery true to its name, is housed in the former barreling house of the James E. Pepper distilling complex which operated from 1879-1958. Grab a drink at the adjoining Elkhorn Tavern and explore the old distillery district – also now the home to the James E. Pepper distillery located just next door. After a multi-year construction effort, the historic distillery—which after fifty years of neglect had fallen into a terrible state of disrepair—has been completely restored and is now tour and tasting ready.
Located in a newly renovated complex that was formerly an old bakery and colloquially known as “the bread box”, there’s plenty to do when visiting Bluegrass Distillers. Find out how organic and locally sourced grains make all the difference in this unique Bourbon. You can’t hit the road without one of their signature mini bundt cakes (as available).
Paris is comprised of miles of rolling hills, quiet streams and some of the world’s finest thoroughbred horse farms. Contrary to its name, Bourbon County was not home to an active distillery since prohibition until Hartfield & Co. Distillery opened in 2013. Hartfield & Co. pride themselves on using local grains, most of which come from within 10 miles of the distillery. Don’t leave without enjoying a cocktail next door at Prichard & Bail.
With great Bourbon, cuisine, shopping and horses, there’s no better place to hang your hat than Lexington. Touted Horse Capital of the World, it’s the perfect place to recharge for your next day of Bourbon adventures. Speaking of horses, if you want to check out some thoroughbred farms, our friends at Horse Country Tours have a VIP seat with your name on it. Make reservations at a historic Lexington icon, the The Campbell House, Curio Collection by Hilton – a horse farm turned award-winning hotel. Visit their newly built Rackhouse Tavern and choose from over 300 Bourbons and whiskeys. For an “artful” escape, book a room at the 21c Museum Hotel – part boutique hotel, part contemporary art museum, and part restaurant in the heart of downtown Lexington. Dine at the on-site Lockbox restaurant for cuisine highlighting the region’s best ingredients, then hit the bar to sample over 60 fine Bourbons and ryes. Click here for discounts and special offers through their Bourbon Passport Club! The locals will tell you that Distilled at The Sire is the perfect spot for a romantically exquisite meal and a Bourbon or cocktail from their extensive list. You can’t leave Kentucky without popping the top on Ale-8-One, Kentucky’s oldest surviving soft drink with a kick of spicy ginger. Kentuckians love to drink it straight or mix it up in a cocktail.
With charming towns like Midway, Versailles, and Millville, Woodford County has scenic beauty (and great Bourbon) in spades. Peruse the shops, have an amazing meal, visit a real castle, and sip on America’s native spirit in one of their fine restaurants or distilleries. Follow Glenn’s Creek to Millville where The Stave Restaurant is waiting to serve you some delightful southern fare and a crafted cocktail.
(Note that Wilderness Trail Distillery has moved from the KBT Craft Tour onto the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Tour. You may still get your Craft Tour book stamped here and collect your regional / completion gift, but the stamp is no longer required for completion.)