It’s no secret to most cocktail and spirit aficionados that Kentucky is the place to be for bourbon. With nine distilleries spread over a relatively small stretch of the state — including Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, and Wild Turkey — there’s a whole lot of liquor to be found along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. The official website, http://www.kybourbontrail.com, allows you to download a “passport,” grab a map, and start using the official app to start planning your journey!
To be clear, there’s no actual hiking or driving route where you’ll find all of these establishments, but they’re all close enough to each other (within 70 miles) that it’s an easy few-day experience. The Kentucky Distillers’ Organization, who operates the trail, recommends that visitors take a full three or four days to explore all of the member distilleries, take in the gorgeous scenery in between stops, and check out at least a few of the smaller spots on the craft distillery tour. That’s right, If you’re feeling especially ambitious, you can can also embark on one of three cycling routes, to burn some calories as you imbibe.
All of the member distilleries charge a fee for admission and tours, but there is no cost to actually begin your journey along the trail! Simply pick a starting point and get your taste buds warmed up to enjoy some whiskey. It should also be noted that unless you’re part of a group of 10 or more, no reservations are required at any of the distilleries. Feel feel to bring the whole family along as well; all ages are welcome on the tours, but you must be 21 to sample any alcohol.
It doesn’t have to be all about boozin’, either; Louisville, where many choose to begin their tour, boasts legendary live music, historic neighborhoods and incredible restaurants. Attractions like the Louisville Zoo, Kentucky Derby Museum, and Churchill Downs (where the famous race takes place) are well worth a visit before or after you hit the trail. In June, the city will also host its second annual Kentucky Bourbon Affair showcase, which offers private distillery tours, exclusive parties, food pairings and more.
Of course, with so many, um, spirited options, who says you have to attempt them all in one trip? Hang onto your passport and save a few stops for the next visit!