6 Distilleries You Need to Know on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail

Activities, Food & Beverage, History & Heritage, Magazine Features

Distillery tours, tastings of America’s native spirit, outdoor adventures and meet-ups with master distillers all await on the bourbon trail

It’s often said that in Kentucky all paths lead to bourbon. Sure, the Bluegrass State has a lot of wonderful attributes, including lush landscapes, exciting horse races and unique music (hence its nickname). But with 95 percent of the world’s bourbon made in Kentucky, it’s a given the iconic American spirit will be part of your experience here. The best way to discover what makes this spirit special is to experience it along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. And with some 18 distinct distilleries calling the bourbon trail home, there’s something for everyone with tastings for those over 21 often included. Bonus for those visiting in September: It’s National Bourbon Heritage Month so expect to find festivals, concerts and other bourbon-centric events.

Woodford Reserve Distillery

Woodford Reserve Distillery in Versailles, Ky., offers tours that explain the bourbon-making process.

Here, we spotlight six distilleries offering Kentucky bourbon trail tours to include on your must-visit list.

Kentucky Bourbon Trail Tips:

  • As distilleries have their own set of hours and tours, do check availability before visiting
  • If visiting multiple distilleries in one day is your plan, establish a designated driver
  • Bourbon trail distilleries are located in different parts of Kentucky so create a plan that takes advantage of their proximity to each other
  • As always when drinking is involved, eat beforehand and drink plenty of water

Jim Beam American Stillhouse

Nestled in the foothills of Clermont, Kentucky, the Jim Beam American Stillhouse offers an intimate look inside its distillery with a series of complimentary self-guided walking tours. Additionally, they offer in-depth guided tours that take visitors through the entire whiskey-making process that start with Beam’s natural limestone water and go through the mashing, distilling, barreling, aging and bottling.

Maker’s Mark Distillery

At its Star Hill Farm property, which covers more than 1,000 acres, Maker’s Mark Distillery offers four different tours, ranging from a mostly outdoor one that will teach you about the history of their bourbon and how it’s made to an in-depth immersive distillery experience that highlights all aspects of production, accessing far reaches of their distillery, warehouse, cellar, cistern and bottling. A visit to Maker’s Mark Distillery isn’t complete without a try at their dipping station, where you can try your hand at dunking your undipped purchased bottle.

Rabbit Hole Distillery

Located in Nulu, Louisville’s center for art, food and culture, Rabbit Hole Distillery is the brainchild of a psychologist turned bourbon maker. In 2012, Kaveh Zamanian started Rabbit Hole with the goal to create innovative spirits and inspire more people to discover and enjoy bourbon and American whiskey. At his urban-chic distillery, visitors can experience an immersive one-hour tour, where they will learn how grain is transformed into whiskey and how Rabbit Hole’s philosophy has changed the bourbon landscape.

Rabbit Hole Distillery on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail

The copper still used at Rabbit Hole Distillery to create their unique Kentucky bourbons. Photo courtesy of Rabbit Hole Distillery

Four Roses Distillery

Located on the scenic Salt River in Lawrenceburg, Four Roses Distillery has been handcrafting bourbon since 1888. At its visitor center, you’ll have the opportunity to learn about the history of their brand and unique approach to bourbon making. The three distillery tours, ranging from 30 minutes to 1.25 hours, include a special flight tasting, a legacy tour, and a guided flight tasting and history experience.

Bulleit Frontier Whiskey Experience at Stizel-Weller

Originally opened on Derby Day in 1935 and reopened to the public in 2014, the Stitzel-Weller Distillery, home to the Bulleit Bourbon brand, offers visitors the opportunity to view the warehouse where the rickhousing was invented in 1879, the original cooperage, and the historic foyer, inspired by Monticello. Stitzel-Weller also recently installed a state-of-the-art bottling line and a new small batch still to nurture inspired experimentation and education. The distillery offers a variety of experiences, including a progressive walking tour and taste, a hands-on mixology class and a history-focused tour. Private group tours also available.

Woodford Reserve Distillery

At its historic distillery in Versailles, Woodford Reserve offers the only bourbon made in copper pot stills with a triple distillation process and features one of the only heat-cycled barrelhouses in the world. Learn more about its unique bourbon-making process with one of their tours that include a guided experience through their distillery grounds followed by special tastings. For those looking for something extra special, book their Woodford Reserve Double Double Oaked Portfolio Tasting, which includes a 2020 and 2021 bottle to take home.

TOP PHOTO: Located in the heart of Louisville’s culture scene, Rabbit Hole’s design is as innovative as the bourbons it creates. Photo courtesy of Rabbit Hole Distillery

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