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Road Trip: The Kentucky Bourbon Trail

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On: Fri, Jan 23, 2015 at 2:41PM | By: Bill Wilson

Road Trip: The Kentucky Bourbon Trail

Some of America's scenic roads are all about the scenery, while others focus on the region’s heritage or history. But in Kentucky there's a route devoted to the fine art of making whiskey. Known as the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, it gives visitors a chance to visit nine of the most famed distilleries in the world. Along the way, drivers can enjoy scenic small towns, rolling hills, and outstanding dining and lodging. The drive has become hugely popular in recent years, with more than 2.5 million people from all 50 states and several foreign countries completing the route.

The Kentucky Bourbon Trail was founded in 1999 by the Kentucky Distillers Association, as a way of promoting the state’s best-known product. It meanders through several hundred miles of back-country roads, punctuated by the company headquarters of legendary names like Jim Beam, Four Roses, and Woodford Reserve. The distilleries welcome visitors with tours of their operations, letting bourbon fans see where their favorite varieties are produced. Those who visit all of the nine distilleries are eligible to receive a customized T-shirt compliments of the association.

Trail officials recommend spending at least three days exploring the route. Most visitors start in Louisville, where they visit the iconic Stitzel-Weller site on the city's outskirts. Louisville also offers the chance to visit the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, an interactive tour located right in the heart of downtown's famed Whiskey Row. From there, the next major stop is the Jim Beam American Stillhouse.

On the outskirts of Bardstown, Kentucky, visitors can tour the Heavenly Hill Bourbon Heritage Center and visit Willet's Distillery. Bardstown is regarded as the bourbon capital of the world and is a fascinating, highly scenic town in its own right. The city also contains the Oscar Goetz Museum of Whiskey History and the Kentucky Bourbon Marketplace.

The next major stop along the route is Maker’s Mark distillery, which rests in the rolling hill country of Marion County. The nearby Tollhouse Café is a favorite stop for visitors and locals alike.

The community of Lebanon lies at the heart of the Bluegrass State. It’s home to the Limestone Branch Distillery. Nearby is Danville, where you can visit the Wilderness Trail Distillery, known for its use of local grains in its signature distillation process. Many visitors like to call it a day, once they’ve seen the sites in Danville, and check into the historicBeaumont Inn for the evening.

A three-day tour of the trail usually concludes with a visit to the Four Roses Distillery in Lawrenceburg, followed by a trip to the Wild Turkey Distillery eight miles down the road. The climax of the route awaits in Woodford County, home of numerous Kentucky Derby-winning horses. The area also contains the Woodford Reserve Distillery, one of Kentucky’s artisan brands of bourbon.

Most visitors to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail tour the area in the spring or summer; however, the state’s mild weather makes a visit almost any time of year possible. For more information, visit the trail’s official website.




Eugeneia | 9:22AM (Mon, Feb 2, 2015)

My sister and brother in law went and had an incredible time. I am planning on going someday.

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