With nearly 70 distilleries that produce more than 95% of the world’s bourbon supply, each of Kentucky’s distilleries contribute to the state’s historic Bourbon Country and the ever-growing Kentucky Bourbon Trail®.
“The history and heritage of the industry, the personalities and the families that weave throughout the distilleries, the craftsmanship that goes into every barrel of bourbon provides an authentic American experience no other destination can offer,” said Mike Mangeot, commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Tourism.
Kentucky’s bourbon history began with German, Scottish and Irish immigrants in the 18th century.
“While they were used to using rye as their primary grain, corn was much more readily available and easier to grow,” Mangeot said.
The abundance of corn in combination with the limestone shelf Kentucky sits on and its four distinct seasons make the state an ideal place to distill bourbon.
On the Kentucky Bourbon Trail®, groups can visit both distilleries of well-known brands like Woodford Reserve and small, locally-owned establishments.
While currently closed due to construction, the Jim Beam American Stillhouse offers special experiences in Clermont. The Urban Distillery in Louisville will welcome back its special experiences for groups in spring 2021.
Groups will enjoy Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, with extensive grounds and an even lengthier history that can be experienced through a tour. Learn the science behind distilling bourbon at Buffalo Trace, hunt for ghosts said to be haunting the grounds and journey through the thousands of white oak barrels.
What originally was an Amish dairy farm became MB Roland Distillery in 2009, a smaller establishment but Kentucky’s first “grain to grass” craft distillery. Tours of the grounds in Pembroke can include the distillery, aging warehouse and rickhouse.
“Each distillery, large or small, offers a unique experience,” Mangeot said.
Other small-batch and up-and-coming distilleries include Old Pogue in Maysville and Castle & Key in Frankfort.
While on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail®, groups might want to include a few other cultural stops and attractions that are not far from the trail. “The Spirit of Kentucky” exhibition at the Frazier History Museum in Louisville is a visualization into the history and culture of the bourbon industry.
“The Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History in Bardstown houses an extensive collection of liquor memorabilia from the 1700s to today, including George Washington’s millstone and a Prohibition exhibition featuring interactive exhibits, life size models and more including Carrie Nation’s hatchet,” Mangeot said.
Many distilleries and museums are either suspending tours until next year, requiring pre-scheduling or limiting group sizes. Make sure to check these cultural attractions’ websites to make the most of the group’s trip to Bourbon Country.
“Whether you drink bourbon or not, Bourbon Country offers memorable experiences for your group,” Mangeot said.
For more information call 502-753-1699 or go to kybourbontrail.com.