Kentucky Bourbon Trail® & Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour®
This is it, guys. This is the big one.
A 9-day minimum, 950 mile, 29 distillery, 2 time zone, ultimate Bourbon excursion. You will see, taste and smell some of the most legendary distilleries our Commonwealth has to offer. You will eat amazing cuisine designed to complement our whiskeys. You will sip on cocktails prepared by true artists. And you will see some of the most beautiful countryside short of Ireland itself. Kentucky produces 95% of America’s native spirit in that old-fashioned, time-honored tradition. Take your time and enjoy it our way.
There are so many ways to plan your route, but here is what we suggest.
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.
Day 1 – Louisville
Louisville is a great place to begin your Kentucky Bourbon Trail® adventure – after all, their official drink is the Old Fashioned! When you’re not touring one of Louisville’s legendary distilleries, you can dine, shop, relax, and discover what “Bourbonism” means to us. We are also pleased to announce that the Frazier Museum is the new home of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® Welcome Center! Make time peruse their Spirit of Kentucky® Bourbon exhibition, get you picture taken in the bottle room, and look for the secret speakeasy entrance.
Once acclimated at the Frazier, start 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 river. (Angel’s Envy is a reservation-only distillery and is closed on Tuesdays.)
Get your shades ready for you next stop! The Old Forester Distillery is 4 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.
The Evan Williams Bourbon Experience located right downtown is just a stones-throw from the port where Evan himself used to send barrels down the river. Experience this artisan distillery in the heart of Louisville and enjoy your samples in one of two themed tasting rooms…or the basement speakeasy – shhh.
If you’re planning your trip for the fall of 2018, make sure to include a visit to the new Michter’s Fort Nelson Distillery – coming soon!
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, pool, market, and signature restaurant Neighborhood Services, you’ll never want to leave…until Bourbon calls! 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.
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.
Want to explore the KBT on two wheels? Check out Louisville Bicycle Tours for more info.
Day 2 – Louisville / Shepherdsville
Next you will travel west to the Bulleit Frontier Whiskey Experience at the old Stitzel-Weller Distillery. Walk around for a few minutes and you’ll see just how much whiskey history has occurred on these hallowed grounds. (Bulleit is closed on Tuesdays.)
To start your KBT Craft Tour passport, stop by the Kentucky Peerless Distilling Co. to learn how the Taylor’s are preserving their family’s 130-year distilling tradition.
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)
Make your way west towards Owensboro to minimize your driving on day 3, or pitch a tent in Shepherdsville another Official Trailhead of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail™. 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. Bullitt County also is home to the famous Zappo’s shoe outlet, if you need new treads for your trip.
Day 3 – Owensboro / Western Kentucky
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?
Head south and make your way to Pembroke, home of MB Roland Distillery – a complete grain-to-glass distillery. MB Roland uses local grains to produce their line of spirits. During the summer and fall months they offer their “Pickin’ on the Porch” concert series right on the porch of the distillery.
Keep in mind that O.Z. Tyler and MB Roland are on the central time zone.
Day 4 – Bardstown
Make your way back to the Bluegrass and 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. Choose from their tour options and enjoy your samples in the barrel-shaped tasting room.
Just one mile down the road you will find another historic distillery rich in family history. For another Craft stamp, tour the grounds of Willett Distillery and don’t leave without stocking up on some Willett Family Estate, Johnny Drum, Rowan’s Creek, Noah’s Mill or any of the special releases they have that day.
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 5 – Lebanon / Danville
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.
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, Minor Case Rye, and the MoonPie Moonshine.
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. Wilderness Trail Distillery uses local grains and their signature distillation process to produce its spirits right here in Danville. Learn about the chemistry of distilling and sample their Bourbon, rye, sorghum rum and vodka.
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.
Or check into the picturesque Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill. 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, historical demos, Bourbon dinners and wonderful staff add to a great Kentucky experience!
Day 6 – Lawrenceburg
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.
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 for unique Bourbon gifts and food items or a delicious grab ‘n go lunch.
The scenery doesn’t get much better than that of the Lexington area, 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. 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.
Before heading into downtown Lexington, check into the Woodford Inn and feast in the onsite restaurant, Addie’s Restaurant & Bar. Or, 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’ word for it and visit Wallace Station Deli just down scenic U.S. 62, one of the prettiest drives in the Commonwealth.
Day 7 – Lexington
Lexington has long been known for its race horses, but now it’s also known for 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.
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.
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.
With great Bourbon, cuisine, shopping and horses, there’s no better place to hang your hat than Lexington. Another Official Trailhead of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail™ and touted Horse Capitol 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. 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 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 8 – Northern Kentucky
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.
From Paris, hop on 68 toward Maysville – a picturesque town nestled on the banks of the Ohio River in northeastern Kentucky, just one hour southeast of Cincinnati, Ohio. The Old Pogue Distillery is operated by fifth and sixth generations of the Pogue family whose ancestors began operations in Maysville in 1876. Old Pogue makes only Kentucky Bourbon and rye whiskies using their time honored family recipes. Be sure to make an online tour reservation at Old Pogue as walk-ins are not always available.
Northern Kentucky 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. 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.
A must-stop while in NKY is New Riff Distilling. Discover how New Riff is putting their own modern spin on an age-old tradition, making high quality Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Make sure to stop by the Party Source next door to peruse their Bourbons and hundreds of spirits offerings.
Just a short drive south from New Riff will bring you to the Boone County Distilling Co. Boone County has taken up the tradition of a distillery that once was located only miles from the facility. Stop in to see why their spirits are “made by ghosts” and sample their Kentucky Bourbon, Bourbon Cream and their White Whiskey, Tanner’s Curse.
Day 9 – Greater Louisville Area
When you visit Jeptha Creed Distillery, you feel like family. The Nethery’s use an heirloom variety of “bloody butcher” corn to make their Bourbon, and raise their own produce they use to infuse their spirits with. After your tour, grab a cocktail and gaze over the rolling hills and rickhouses.
Your next destination is nestled in the quiet countryside just outside the city. Kentucky Artisan Distillery produces its own label, Whiskey Row Bourbon, a blend of small batch barrels mirroring the recipes that came about during the westward expansion of our nation.
Click here to learn how to redeem your passports for your free gifts.