KENTUCKY BOURBON TRAIL® ITINERARY
There’s nothing better than a good ‘ol classic. The Kentucky Bourbon Trail® tour is an institutional experience that keeps people coming back for more year after year. Sip, stroll and savor your way across the Bluegrass on this 17 distillery adventure. We are always looking to add new experiences, so check back often as 2019 will be an eventful year. Click here for questions about your old passports.
Want to leave the driving and planning to someone else? We support planning ahead and staying safe on the KBT tour. Book today with one of our trusted Transportation companies like Mint Julep Experiences or Copper Still Tours.
There are so many ways to plan your route, but here is what we suggest. And please remember that it is the best practice to try to book your tours in advance and online.
DAY 1 & 2 – LOUISVILLE
Louisville is a great place to start your Kentucky Bourbon Trail® adventure – after all, their official drink is the Old Fashioned! Begin your journey at the official starting point, the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® Welcome Center at the Frazier Museum. Make time to peruse their Spirit of Kentucky® Bourbon exhibition, get you picture taken in the bottle room, and look for the secret speakeasy entrance. Ask the helpful Bourbon concierge for trip info, and set out for Bourbon exploration!
Bust out the tennies, Whiskey Row is calling! When you walk out of the Frazier Museum and turn left, there are four KBT distilleries within a one mile stretch of Main Street – Michter’s Fort Nelson Distillery, Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, Old Forester Distilling Co., and Angel’s Envy Distillery. These experiences are super walkable, but if you choose to drive, make sure to reverse course as Main Street is one-way.
Start your distillery tours at the home of the Michter’s Fort Nelson Distillery. See the pot stills from the original Michter’s Pennsylvania Distillery, which traces its history back to 1753. Test your senses in the lab, and finish your tour off in the second floor bar. The Bar at Fort Nelson features classic cocktails curated by cocktail historian and author David Wondrich as well as modern creations by the Head Bartender Sevan Araneda and Bar Manager Dante Wheat. (self-fill bottle stations coming soon!)
Head two blocks down to the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, located just a stones-throw from the port where Evan himself used to send barrels down the river. ON3 is an urban-chic loft space that is open and airy, with exposed brick and floor-to-ceiling windows. You’ll find barrel staves and bottle chandeliers at the bar, and plenty of space to sit and mingle. Enjoy flights of Bourbon, or a specially prepared cocktail from their Mixologist, Karla Plott.
Get your shades ready for you next stop! The Old Forester Distilling Co. is four floors of Bourbon education like you’ve never seen before. You will see barrels being assembled and charred (hence the shades) in their on-site cooperage and end your tour in their state of the art cocktail lounge, George’s Bar. If visiting on Fridays and Saturdays, have your camera ready as the Old Forester Whisky Drummer drums up business on Whiskey Row! Watch as the barrels built and filled in the cooperage are rolled out onto Main Street and into their vintage-style barrel truck.
End your day with a different take on Bourbon. At Angel’s Envy, they age their Bourbon in ruby port wine casks giving it a subtle depth of flavor. After your tour, grab a hand-crafted cocktail in their gorgeous, second story bar overlooking the Ohio River. (Angel’s Envy is a reservation-only distillery and is closed on Tuesdays.)
Rest your tired feet and recharge with some great food and drinks. Grab an Urban Bourbon Trail® passport and start dining your way around town and discover what “Bourbonism” means to us.
Need a place to stay? We have options! When booking at the Marriott Louisville East, ask about the Bourbon suite complete with Bourbon-barrel decor. Enjoy a “Bourbon of the day” and other nightly drink specials at Charr’d Bourbon Kitchen & Lounge. For a downtown option, the Omni Hotel can’t be beat. With an on-site bowling alley, rooftop pool, on-site spa, market, and two signature restaurants, you’ll never want to leave. If you’re looking for luxurious, southern accommodations a little off the beaten path, check into the Chateau Bourbon B&B for a great night’s sleep and a Bourbon-inspired breakfast.
DAY 3 – LOUISVILLE
Start day 3 in the beloved NuLu district at our newest KBT member, Rabbit Hole Distillery. Step into this ultra-modern facility to learn how the owner fell in love with Bourbon as he fell in love with a girl, and what drives him to make what he considers to be the best Bourbons and ryes. Finish your tour with a cocktail in their Overlook bar curated by Death + Co.
Leave the city limits momentarily to peruse the new home of Bulleit Distilling Co. Tour their state-of-the-art distillery, grab a cocktail from their bar, and take home a bottle of Bulleit Bourbon with your own customized label. (Bulleit is closed on Sundays and Mondays.)
Make your way back to West Louisville to tour the old Stitzel-Weller Distillery This site originally opened in 1935 has been closed to the public for years. Walk around for a few minutes and you’ll see just how much whiskey history has occurred on these hallowed grounds. (Stitzel-Weller is closed on Tuesdays.)
Time to stock up! Grab some old favorites and maybe some hard to find gems at Westport Whiskey & Wine. Show your Kentucky Bourbon Trail® or Craft Tour passport and ask about their discounts and special offers. Need to take a walk on the sweet side? Indulge in delectable Bourbon truffles and other divine confections at Art Eatables. Get your belly full and enjoy a well-crafted Bourbon flight 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.
Stay another night or Louisville, or head south in preparation for day 3. Shepherdsville is a perfect and convenient place to go shopping, dine or lay your head after so much Bourbon education. Don’t miss the Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest across from Jim Beam.
DAY 4 – SHEPHERDSVILLE / OWENSBORO
Wake up early and start your journey at the home of one of the world’s most noted whiskeys – the Jim Beam American Stillhouse. After seeing every step of the process, you’ll have the chance to dip your own bottle of Knob Creek right off the bottling line. After the interactive, multi-sensory tour, make sure to grab some BBQ at Fred’s Smokehouse, and sip a cocktail on the patio. Stay tuned to their events calendar for any special happenings throughout the year.
(You may choose to visit the Jim Beam Urban Stillhouse in downtown Louisville to receive your stamp in your passport. Drop into the JBUS for a quick tasting or sign up for their table-side cocktail experience–and don’t forget to fill and label your own bottle of Urban Stillhouse Select.)
Get ready folks. This next stop extends your journey, but it is so worth the drive. Occupying the revived Charles Medley Distillery site, O.Z. Tyler has been touted as a “distillery of the future.” Their proprietary TerrePURE® process renders a delicious whiskey that is priced to sell. Wanna learn more?
Keep in mind that O.Z. Tyler is in the central time zone.
DAY 5 – BARDSTOWN
Continue your journey in historic Bardstown – the Bourbon Capital of the World® and an Official Trailhead of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail™. Heaven Hill is the nation’s largest family-owned spirits producer making brands such as Elijah Craig, Larceny, Henry McKenna and many others. The Shapira’s have been operating in Bardstown since 1935, and they love having visitors. At the Heaven Hill Bourbon Heritage Center, you can choose from their tour options and enjoy your samples in their barrel-shaped tasting room.
One of Kentucky’s newest distilleries is open for business! Lux Row Distillers is certainly not new to the industry, but their brand new home in Kentucky is. With a perfect blend of timeless craft and innovation, Lux Row upholds some of Kentucky’s most iconic Bourbon brands.
Wind down in Bardstown as you peruse the shops and start planning your nightcap destination. Take a stroll through the past at the newly renovated Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History. Don’t miss an opportunity to dine on classic Kentucky fare in the Old Talbott Tavern (try the fried green tomatoes), have a nightcap in the “world’s oldest Bourbon bar”, and even spend the night if you feel so inclined. For southern food at its finest, plan an exquisite private dinner for your group at the Harrison-Smith House.
DAY 6 – LEBANON / BARDSTOWN
Lebanon is literally the “heart” of Kentucky — it’s the geographic center of the Bluegrass State. There’s a lot of history in this small town with the Civil War Trail, the John Hunt Morgan Trail, and our favorite, the Kentucky Bourbon Trail (we might be biased).
One of Kentucky’s most remote and charming distillery properties is well-worth the trek. While at Maker’s Mark see the barrels aging sweetly beneath the Chihuly blown-glass installment, and don’t forget to dip your own bottle in the gift shop. Settle in for a delicious, southern meal at Star Hill Provisions, and get a cocktail or alcoholic Ale-8-One slushy – trust us.
End your night at Bardstown Bourbon Company’s new dining experience, Bottle & Bond Kitchen. Enjoy a delicious meal and cocktail in this gorgeous ultra-modern distillery. Make sure to peek at the vintage whiskey offerings in their extended menu. And don’t forget to order a boozy milkshake. Click here for reservations. Please keep in mind that there currently is no walk-in tour availability at BBC, but they do offer a quick tasting tour in their gift shop.
DAY 7 – DANVILLE / LAWRENCEBURG
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.
They’ve been making whiskey in Anderson County for centuries, and two historic distilleries are waiting to share their timeless secrets. Lawrenceburg is just off 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.
(You may choose to get your passport stamped at the Four Roses Warehouse & Bottling Facility in Cox’s Creek. This Four Roses tour focuses on its warehouse and bottling operations. Save on admission fees if you tour both within 60 days.)
Just 8 short miles away is where the Wild Turkey Distillery sits atop the Kentucky River. Come 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 over 60 years and is always willing to sign a bottle or pose for a picture. Before leaving town, 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. 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.
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.
DAY 8 – LEXINGTON
The scenery doesn’t get much better than that of the Lexington area, home to 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. 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. While at Woodford Reserve, grab a bite from the seasonal offerings of Glenn’s Creek Café. The daily fare from renowned Chef Ouita Michael usually includes Kentucky favorites such as country ham, barbeque and homemade desserts. And don’t forget to enjoy a handmade cocktail on the patio. Or continue down McCracken Pike to Millville where you will find the area’s best kept secret – The Stave Restaurant. Enjoy Kentucky-inspired dishes and handmade while listening to local performers (as scheduled).
Lexington has long been known for its legendary race horses and also its great Bourbon . Named after the river that flows under the city’s streets, Town Branch is a small distillery that is making a big name for itself. The only “brew-distillery” on our tour, sample their Bourbon, rye, or beer and make sure to take home a 4-pack of their signature Bourbon Barrel Ale.
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. 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! Distilled at Gratz Park 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 an 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.
DAY 9 – NORTHERN KY
If you have time left in your trip, you will love exploring around in Northern Kentucky. NKY has played an important role in the movement and production of whiskey throughout our country’s history. Today visitors can explore the booming craft distillery scene, shop at Newport on the Levee and enjoy a delicious meal and cocktails at any of their top-notch establishments. NKY is also a great place to start your Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour® passport, with 3 stops right there and several other distilleries nearby. Need another challenge? While you’re at it, drop in to at least 2 distilleries, 2 bars and 2 restaurants listed on your B-Line passport for a full Northern Kentucky experience.