MAKE IT A DOUBLE ITINERARY
KENTUCKY BOURBON TRAIL® & KENTUCKY BOURBON TRAIL CRAFT TOUR®
This is it, guys. This is the big one.
A week-plus minimum, 950 mile, 37 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 tours. Book today with one of our trusted Transportation partners like Mint Julep Experiences or Pegasus Distillery Experiences.
Louisville is a great place to begin your Kentucky Bourbon Trail® and Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour® adventures – 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 home of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® Welcome Center! Make time to peruse their Spirit of Kentucky® Bourbon exhibition, shop for Bourbon-y gifts, take a selfie in the bottle hall, and look for the secret speakeasy entrance. The Frazier staff is also an excellent resource for mapping out your trip, so use them as your ‘concierge’ for all things Bourbon.
Without further ado, let’s get started!
Bust out the tennies, Whiskey Row is calling! When you walk out of the Frazier Museum, there are four KBT distilleries and one KBTCT distillery within a one mile stretch of Main Street – Michter’s Fort Nelson Distillery, Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, Old Forester Distilling Co., Angel’s Envy Distillery, and Kentucky Peerless Distilling Co. These experiences are super walkable, but if you choose to drive, make sure to reverse course as Main Street is one-way. If you would like to leave the driving to someone else, there are plenty of transportation options like cruisers or free busing – click here.
To start your KBT Craft Tour passport, stop by the Kentucky Peerless Distilling Co. Learn how the Taylors are preserving their family’s 130-year distilling tradition as you tour their beautiful facility. Take home some of their rye whiskey or their newly released Bourbon and ask about the family distilling history that dates back almost 100 years.
Step out of Peerless and start your KBT 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 (ask about the self-fill bottle station!).
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.
Continue your journey 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.)
Continue your Louisville experience 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.
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.)
Your next destination is nestled in the quiet countryside just outside Louisville. 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 the United States.
Leave the city limits momentarily to peruse the new home of Bulleit Distilling Co. located in rural Shelbyville. 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 Mondays.)
When you visit Jeptha Creed Distillery, you feel like family. The Netherys 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.
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. Make reservations at ALEX&NDER for a casual yet unforgettable meal and libations overlooking the city.
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 check into the storied Seelbach Hotel, order a famed “Seelbach” cocktail, and ask about Al Capone’s getaway tunnels! If you’re looking for luxurious, southern accommodations a little off the beaten path, make reservations at the Chateau Bourbon B&B for a great night’s sleep and a Bourbon-inspired breakfast.
WESTERN KENTUCKY AREA
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 distilling the best Kentucky Bourbon and Rye since resurrecting and reopening this historic distillery in 2016.
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.
And just up the road is Casey Jones Distillery, a beautiful property that is perfect for some porch-sipping of their fine spirits. Makers of traditional moonshine and other spirits,Casey Jones’ scenic setting and fantastic hospitality will leave you an expert on how to create the world famous Moonarita.
Heading back toward central Kentucky, make your way to the charming Dueling Grounds Distillery to sample their newly released Linkumpinch Bourbon or their delicious fruit liqueurs.
On your way to Bardstown, stop into Boundary Oak Distillery and try their small batch offerings such as their Lincoln Straight Bourbon, Patton Armored Diesel, and Kentucky Amber.
On your way to Bardstown, make a pit stop in Shepherdsville – 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.
Just north of Bardstown lies 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.)
No Bourbon journey is complete without a stop 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.
Continue your quest for stamps in your KBTCT passport at another historic distillery rich in family history. Tour the grounds at Willett Distillery and make reservations at The Bar at Willett for an unforgettable cocktail and dining experience (I bet you didn’t know you liked egg salad until you try this!).
With a perfect blend of timeless craft and innovation, Lux Row Distillers calls home some of Kentucky’s most iconic Bourbon brands such as Ezra Brooks and Rebel Yell. Enjoy their chocolate and whiskey tastings and try to see their famous peacocks roaming the grounds.
Take a distillery tour, book a cocktail class, eat your heart out…you can do it all at Bardstown Bourbon Company. Don’t miss a chance to dine at their onsite Bottle & Bond Kitchen & Bar. Enjoy a delicious meal and cocktail in this gorgeous ultra-modern distillery, and make sure to peek at the vintage whiskey offerings in their extended menu (don’t forget to order a boozy milkshake). Click here for reservations.
Less than 2 miles from the center of enchanting Bardstown on an old tobacco farm you’ll find Preservation Distillery + Farms, a small operating farm and distillery making 100% pot distilled Bourbon and whiskey in 1-3 barrel batches. Longhorn cattle roam the property, and with itty bitty releases of their Olde St Nick, Wattie Boone, Cowboy Little Barrel and Preservation you’re sure to have a worthwhile visit.
Head south of Bardstown to Lebanon which 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).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 and leave smelling like our favorite perfume – charred oak. (close-toed shoes required)
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.
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.
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 (Note: Wilderness Trail Distillery moved from the KBT Craft Tour onto the KBT in early 2020. You may still get your Craft Tour book stamped here, but it is no longer required for completion.). 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.
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.
The scenery doesn’t get much better than that of Woodford County, 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. Book your tours online and make sure to peruse their special events offered throughout the year. 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.
(You may choose to visit the Dueling Barrels Brewery & Distillery in Pikeville to receive your stamp for Town Branch.)
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. That was an easy way to get two Craft Tour stamps!
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 the Campbell House – a horse farm turned award-winning historic hotel. Visit their Rackhouse Tavern and choose from over 300 Bourbons and whiskeys (Rackhouse opening late Jan ’20). 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 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.
NORTHERN KENTUCKY AREA
Northern Kentucky has played an important role in the movement and production of whiskey throughout our country’s history. Today visitors can explore their booming craft distillery scene, catch a ballgame, shop at Newport on the Levee, and enjoy a delicious meal and cocktails at any of the top-notch NKY 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.
Continue your Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour® passport at 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 and rye. Make sure to stop by the Party Source next door to peruse their Bourbons and hundreds of spirits offerings.
Just a few miles away you will find Second Sight Spirits, a small distillery with a huge entertainment factor. Founded by two industrial designers that left the Vegas strip for the thriving metropolis of Ludlow, Kentucky, Second Sight makes a variety of spirits on a self-engineered, one-of-a-kind still that has to be seen to be believed. Good fortune awaits next door at their tasting and events room, so check their calendar often for offerings only Carus and Rick could imagine.
From Second Sight, following the river to 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.
Make your way back west to the home of 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.
The last stop in the Northern Region is the Neeley Family Distillery. To see what 11 generations of distilling heritage looks like, and how they transitioned their focus from moonshine to Kentucky Bourbon, drop in for a tasting and an amazing history lesson.