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Weekend Getaway: Take a trip to the birthplace of bourbon

Weekend Getaway: Take a trip to the birthplace of bourbon

Colleen Quinn

Itchin’ to get away for the weekend and try something a little different? You are in luck! The birthplace to the warm, fuzzy burn of a perfectly aged bourbon is a mere 3 hours south of us here in Columbus, Ohio!

As America’s ONLY native spirit, bourbon comes out of Kentucky, crafting 95% of the world’s supply! Awaken those taste buds with a trout down the Kentucky Bourbon Trail!

Giving bourbon lovers an up-close look into how bourbon is distilled and the history behind generations of bourbon tradition, The Kentucky Bourbon Trail is a collection of bourbon whiskey distilleries located throughout Kentucky.

You could spend over a week exploring all of the world famous distilleries throughout Kentucky… but a weekend is plenty of time to sip and soak it in!

Where to start? Begin at the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Welcome Center located on the first floor of the Frazier Kentucky History Museum in downtown Louisville. Here, you can gather all the information you need to plot out your perfect bourbon tasting bucket list.

Next up…Whiskey Row awaits! Strap on your comfy shoes and hang a left out of the Frazier. Within a one mile stretch you will hit Michter’s Fort Nelson Distillery, Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, Old Forester Distilling Co., and Angel’s Envy Distillery. Make sure to pick up your Kentucky Bourbon Trail Passport at your first distillery to collect stamps at each distillery you visit!

BROUGHT TO YOU BY

Tours and Tastings
There are a total of 18 distilleries on the KBT, grouped into roughly 4 different locations: Louisville, Lexington, Bardstown, and Owensboro.

Each distillery offers a tour lasting approximately one hour, ending with a tasting. Learn the history of each distillery, how to properly taste bourbon, what distinguishes bourbon from whiskey, and the role bourbon has played in our countries history. Each distillery has quirks that make them uniquely their own, however the tours can get some what repetitive as bourbon is made of a specific process.

Pro tip: Skip the tour and head straight to the tasting if you are short on time or find the tours have gotten repetitive. Where to next?

BARDSTOWN
For a newer, more modern bourbon experience check out Bardstown Bourbon Company—the first KBT destination to combine distilling and culinary arts! Grab lunch at the distilleries Bottle & Bond Kitchen and Bar with an awesome view of the distillery through the floor to ceiling glass wall.

Heaven Hill Distillery is another must. This distillery has been family owned and operated since they were founded in 1935. Officially opening their doors at their new location, Lux Row Distillers has 4 brands under one roof! A bit further south you will hit Makers Mark, where you can hand dip your own bottle into the red wax!

LEXINGTON
Spend a day visiting these distilleries near Lexington: Woodford Reserve, Four Roses, and Wild Turkey, which is home to the world’s longest tenured active master distiller, Jimmy Russell!

Buffalo Trace—while technically not on the KBT, this distillery is one of the most famous of them all. As the oldest continuously operating distillery in America, Buffalo Trace was one of only three bourbon distilleries allowed to operate during Prohibition to distill ‘medicinal’ bourbon. Here, if you are lucky you may get the famous Freddie as you tour guide! He has been leading tours for nearly 20 years, was featured on the Hulu bourbon documentary named ‘neat’ and recently induced in to the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame.

Extra tidbits

While in Louisville make sure to stop at Feast BBQ for out of this world BBQ and their deliciously intoxicating bourbon slushies (yum).

For the history buffs, take a trip to the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln in Hodgenville, KY!

There are 18 distilleries that make up the official KBT, yet there are SO many more excellent distilleries located in the state of Kentucky. If you do not want to make your way all the way down to Louisville, check out Boone County Distilling Co, a boutique distillery, or New Riff Distilling (named best new bourbon of 2019) both of which are located near Cincinnati.

Official KBT Distilleries
 Angel’s Envy Distillery
 Bardstown Bourbon Company
 Bulleit Distilling Co. 
 Evan Williams Bourbon Experience 
 Four Roses Distillery 
 Heaven Hill 
 Jim Beam American Stillhouse  (2 locations)
 Lux Row Distillers
 Maker’s Mark Distillery 
 Michter’s Fort Nelson Distillery
 Old Forester Distilling Co. 
 O.Z. Tyler Distillery
 Rabbit Hole Distillery
 Stitzel Weller Distillery
 Town Branch Distillery 
 Wilderness Trail
 Wild Turkey Distillery 
 Woodford Reserve Distillery 

Happy Bourbon tasting, and enjoy your time on the trail!

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