Courtesy Kentucky Bourbon Trail
The Group Travel Leader
Published October 01, 2017
Kentucky is the bourbon capital of the world, so it is impossible to talk about it without mentioning its signature spirit.
Some believe that the corn-based product originated in Bourbon County, one of the oldest counties in the state. During the 1700s, farmers would ship barrels of whiskey marked with the Bourbon County stamp down the Ohio River for trade. Over the long journey, the oak wood barrels aged the whiskey, giving it that distinct amber color. Eventually, many buyers began calling it “bourbon whiskey” to distinguish it from the rye-based whiskey common in Pennsylvania and Maryland.
Today, Kentucky produces 95 percent of the world’s bourbon whiskey. One of the best ways to experience this cultural heritage is by following the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, which represents trademark brands like Maker’s Mark, Woodford Reserve and Jim Beam. In the past five years alone, approximately 2.5 million visitors from around the world have traveled the Bourbon Trail, making it one of the state’s most vital industries.
The distillery tours give guests an inside look at the craft of bourbon-making. As a guide leads the group through the production facility, participants learn about the history of the distillery and what makes its bourbon unique. Afterward, the group enjoys a complimentary bourbon tasting.
Visitors can pick up their Bourbon Trail passports at their first distillery stop.
Jim Beam Urban Stillhouse
Based in the heart of downtown Louisville, the Jim Beam Urban Stillhouse offers a new tableside cocktail experience where guests can expand their palate and acquire new mixology tips to take home. Parking is available at the Fourth Street Live parking garage.
Bourbon Heritage Center and the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience
Owned by the award-winning Heaven Hill Distillery, the Bourbon Heritage Center in Bardstown explores the rich heritage of bourbon production in the Bluegrass. Groups can also learn about Heaven Hill’s flagship brand, Evan Williams, at the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience in Louisville’s historic bourbon district.
Behind the Scenes
Hard-Hat Tour at Buffalo Trace Distillery
During the hard-hat tour at Buffalo Trace Distillery, groups get to experience bourbon production up close as they delve behind the scenes of grain delivery, cooking, fermentation and distillation. The tour also passes through the E.H. Taylor Jr. Microstill, where the distillery’s renowned experimental batches are developed.
Dinner at the Distillery at Maker’s Mark
Maker’s Mark Distillery is now featuring an exclusive Dinner at the Distillery experience. Guests arrive on the property in late afternoon to tour a special outdoor exhibition of Dale Chihuly art, and then sit down to enjoy a world-class dinner prepared by resident chefs Newman Miller and Alex Dulaney.
Woodford Reserve National Historic Landmark Tour
At Woodford Reserve Distillery, groups can explore more than 200 years of history and architecture during the National Historic Landmark property tour. After the tour, visitors can stop at Glenn’s Creek Café for a bite to eat.