Thursday, June 20, 2024

Kentucky Bourbon Trail 3 Day Itinerary

Get A Taste Of Kentucky With These Kentucky Bourbon Trail Tips

Kentucky Bourbon Trail | Tips For The Tour In 2022

I hope these Kentucky Bourbon Trail tips help you to plan a fun, safe trip to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Now tell mewhich of these distilleries would you visit first?

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Kentucky Bourbon Trail 3 Day Itinerary

I know you already know this, but Kentucky has a lot of bourbon, which means that we have a lot of distilleries. But which ones should you visit? How do you get to them all in a limited time? Well, thats where our Kentucky Bourbon Trail 3 day itinerary comes in!

I like to think that the Amber waves of grain referenced in America the Beautiful is a precise reference to Kentucky bourbon. Our fields of barley, wheat, rye and of course corn are mashed and distilled into a literal glass of amber-colored bluegrass. 95% of the worlds bourbon is made in Kentucky, and just like how champagne tastes better from the Champagne region of France, bourbon tastes better from the terroir of Kentuckys rolling hills.

So lets dive into our Kentucky Bourbon Trail 3 day itinerary!

My Old Kentucky Home State Park Kentucky

The farm that inspired the imagery in Stephen Collins Foster’s famous song, “My Old Kentucky Home, Good-Night!” is a famous and beloved historic site. Built in 1818, the three-story house originally named “Federal Hill” by its first owner Judge John Rowan became Kentucky’s first historic shrine on July 4, 1923. The museum features over two centuries of antiques, paintings, and architecture. Formal gardens, outbuildings that include a smokehouse, historic kitchen, carriage house, cabin, and springhouse are set against magnolias, maples, and cedar trees

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Distillery Tours With Chauffeur

You choose the time, and your driver will pick you up for a day of touring distilleries. Start with a drive to Frankfort, where you’ll enjoy of one of Kentucky’s oldest distilleriesBuffalo Trace Distillery. Next, indulge in a premium whiskey connoisseur tasting tour at Heaven Hill Distillery & Heritage Center. For dinner, consider Rickhouse Restaurant. In historic Spaulding Hall, its tops for fine dining with a choice of 150 bourbons to pair with your meal.

Woodford Reserve Wild Turkey Four Roses & Wilderness Trail

Kentucky Bourbon Trail

Woodford Reserve, Wild Turkey and Four Roses are clustered together near Lexington. Wilderness Trail sits a bit farther away, in Danville. Louisville, Bardstown, and Lexington make a great home base for this day .

Woodford Reserve.Woodford Reserve has a historic, upscale feel to it. It is a National Historic Landmark property and they offer several different tours depending on your level of interest. You can elect to skip the tour and just do a tasting instead.

Wild Turkey.Wild Turkey produces one of the most popular bourbons in the US and one of the best-selling bourbons in the world. Tour the distillery, see the hundreds of barrels inside of the rickhouses, and maybe meet legendary Jimmy Russell while you are here.

Four Roses.Four Roses distillery was built in 1910 and features Spanish Mission-Style architecture, a rarity in Kentucky. During the mid-20th century, Four Roses was the top selling bourbon in Japan but it could not be purchased in the US, even though it was being produced in Kentucky.

Wilderness Trail is the newest member on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. We have not visited this distillery yet but have been drinking their bourbon for quite some time. For tour information, visit the Wilderness trail website.

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Day 3 Back To Louisville

Its the final stretch. Time to get up bright and early, pop some ibuprofen, and get back on the road. On day 3, plan on making your way back to Louisville on a Southbound route, then staying in Louisville again after youve completed the trail. The same goes for day two in terms of travel options and picking which distilleries you want to tour the most because youre on a time crunch.

How Much Does It Cost To Visit The Kentucky Bourbon Trail

It technically doesnt cost anything to visit the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. However, each distillery will have prices for their tours, tasting, drinks, etc., that you will need to purchase.

Typically, tours range from $1530 per person. If you plan to visit three distilleries per day, you should plan to spend $50100 per person. This usually would include a one-hour tour and tasting at three distilleries. However, its important to note that specialty tours may cost more.

For reference, most guided tours of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail cost between $150200 per person and include tours and tastings at two or three distilleries, as well as lunch and transportation. When you factor in all the coststhese tours are often a great deal!

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Day : Louisville To Lexington: Clermont Shelbyville And Loretto

After a hearty breakfast of biscuits, its time to hit the trail! You have the choice to head southeast out of Louisville to explore the Jim Beam facilities. Then its on to Makers Mark, one of the farther distilleries but a favorite for the hand-dipped bottles, gorgeous 1,000-acre farm, and onsite restaurant. Alternatively, and on a more direct route into Lexington, you can head to Bulleit Distilling Co.’s new state-of-the-art facility in Shelbyville.

A stay at the boutique 21C Hotel makes a great homebase in Lexington this artsy, modern hotel is located right downtown, and the lobby also functions as a contemporary art gallery.

Take the evening to explore downtown Lexington. Make sure to stop for a drink at the Bluegrass Tavern, a Lexington classic that boasts the largest bourbon collection in the state. If you need a break from bourbon, a fine margarita at Corto Lima, or craft cocktail at West Main Crafting Co., will do the trick. For dinner, opt for classic and refined, or hip and casual.

Putting This All Together

Kentucky Bourbon Trail: 5 Days Visiting 12 Distilleries

Kentucky Bourbon Trail in 1 Day: Follow day #1, where you get a great overview of the distilling process and get to visit three distilleries in Louisville. Sleep in Louisville.

Kentucky Bourbon Trail in 2 Days: Follow days #1 and #2. If you like the idea of getting out of Louisville for the day, I recommend day #1 plus day #4 or day #5 . Sleep in Louisville.

Kentucky Bourbon Trail in 3 Days: Follow days #1 and #2. Take your pick from day #4 , day #5 , or day #6 . Sleep in Louisville.

Kentucky Bourbon Trail in 4 Days: Follow days #1 and #2. Sleep in Louisville. Follow day #4 and #5, sleeping in either Bardstown or Louisville.

Kentucky Bourbon Trail in 5 Days: Follow our Kentucky Bourbon Trail itinerary for four days, and add on day #6 .

Kentucky Bourbon Trail in 6 Days: Follow our itinerary for 5 days and add on day #7 .

Kentucky Bourbon Trail in 7 Days: This is our day by day itinerary listed above, in the same order, with suggestions on where to stay.

  • Day 1: Intro to Louisville sleep in Louisville.
  • Day 2: Louisville and Museums sleep in Louisville.
  • Day 3: Stitzel Weller Distillery and OZ Tyler. Sleep in Bardstown.
  • Day 4: Best of Bardstown . Sleep in Bardstown.
  • Day 5: Makers Mark, the Kentucky Cooperage, and Jim Beam. Sleep in Bardstown.
  • Day 6: Wilderness Trail, Four Roses, Wild Turkey, and Woodford Reserve . Sleep in Lexington.
  • Day 7: Town Branch, Buffalo Trace, and Bulleit. Sleep in Louisville.

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Bulleit Buffalo Trace And Town Branch

Visit the final two distilleries on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, plus one notable bourbon distillery that is not part of the official trail, Buffalo Trace.

Bulleit Distilling Company. Built in 2017 and open to visitors in 2019, this brand-new distillery features modern, state-of-the-art technology. This Bulleit facility offers a handful of different tours, tastings and cocktail classes. We opted to take the 30 minute Unlocking the Senses tasting, where we sampled four Bulleit whiskeys.

Buffalo Trace.Buffalo Trace, located in Frankfort, is one of the most famous bourbon distilleries in Kentucky. Surprisingly, it is not part of the official Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Why not? Rather than paying the fee to join the Kentucky Distillers Association, they prefer to offer free tours and tastings to their visitors.

A visit to Buffalo Trace is definitely worthwhile when you are in the area, even if it is not officially on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Many people state that the Buffalo Trace tour is their favorite in Kentucky.

Lexington Brewing Company. Located in Lexington, this bourbon distillery also produces beer. Lexington Brewing Company offers a wide variety of tours as well as a mixology class.

Tonight, sleep in Louisville, Bardstown, or Lexington.

A Few Facts About The Kentucky Bourbon Trail

There are eighteen distilleries on the official Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Each of these bourbon distilleries must be a member of the Kentucky Distillers Association, which requires paying a fee. There are many distilleries you can visit in Kentucky that are not part of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. One of these is the very famous Buffalo Trace Distillery .

For the most part, the distilleries are located in and around Louisville, Lexington, and Bardstown. Green River is the outlier, located almost two hours west of Louisville, in a small town named Owensboro.

There is also the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour. On this tour, you visit micro-distilleries and this takes an additional week to visit all of these distilleries. In this article, we focus on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, not the Craft Tour, although you can add these distilleries into your trip if you like the idea of visiting smaller distilleries.

For most people, a mix of tours and tastings is the best way to experience the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Most tours teach you the same process about bourbon distilling, with a few differences at each distillery. It gets to be repetitive. Fortunately, the distilleries are getting more creative with their activities, and some are now offering cocktail classes, food pairings, and in-depth behind-the-scenes tours.

For more information about the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, we have two more articles that will help you plan your trip:

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My Favorite Distilleries On The Tour

In my opinion, Maker’s Mark and Woodford Reserve have the prettiest settings for their operations. Plan to do a lot of walking and wear comfortable shoes. Woodford Reserve is nestled amongst horse barns and miles of fences and seems to be the busiest, so be sure you get your reservation in there.

Some distilleries have you take a short bus ride to their outbuildings, but there’s walking involved even then. Angel’s Envy is by far the hardest to secure a reservation, so be sure to book that one first. There were no times open to reserve, but we went anyway, hoping there’d be availability. There wasn’t, but the nice woman at the desk did sneak us in to at least see the copper still, and we bought a bottle of their limited rye .

Note: Most of these distilleries offer military and veteran discounts, and some are even free, but they will ask to see your ID if you reserve as military.

Best Bourbon Tour In Kentucky

The essential Bourbon Trail road trip...3 days of bourbon, horses, and ...

Having never so much as sniffed a bourbon, let alone tasted any, I was intrigued by the opportunity to take a girls-only bourbon tour of Kentucky in 2017. That tour taught me three things:

  • Hanging with girlfriends is a soul-satisfying way to travel.
  • Bourbon is an awesome thing.
  • Combining a girlfriends getaway with a tour and tastings at a bunch of bourbon distilleries is nothing short of brilliant.
  • The first-ever SheBuysTravel Bourbon Tour, Moonshine Mamas, included a stay at the charming Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, a stop at a cooperage , and visiting a number of Kentucky distilleries where we learned about, tasted and fell in love with a variety of Kentucky bourbons.

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    How To Get Around

    Within Louisville, its easy to reach distilleries on foot or via taxis or rideshares. Beyond city limits, you need a car to get around particularly in more rural areas, ridesharing isnt always available. To delegate the transportation and/or planning, consider booking tours with a company like the famous Mint Julep or Pegasus Distillery Tours. Theyll shuttle you or your group around many of the tours focus on specific interests, like culinary or horse farm tours, or offer VIP access to tastings or other experiences. However youre getting around, dont drink and drive.

    Makers Mark Jim Beam & The Kentucky Cooperage

    Spend the day visiting two big names in bourbon and a tour of a cooperage.

    Morning:Makers Mark.Makers Mark is a must-visit on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. This was our favorite tour for several reasons. The tour gives a fabulous insight to the making of bourbon, the property is gorgeous, the history behind Makers Mark is intriguing, and the bourbon is delicious.

    For lunch, dine at Star Hill Provisions at Makers Mark or Ragettis Italian Food in Lebanon.

    Kentucky Cooperage. Monday through Friday, tours are offered at the Kentucky Cooperage . The barrel making process is a key element in bourbon distilling, and this is the best place to learn all about it, since many distilleries get their barrels here.

    Jim Beam.Jim Beam has two locations on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail: the American Stillhouse, which is located in Clermont, and the Urban Stillhouse, which is located in downtown Louisville. You can take a tour and get a stamp in your passport at either location. We visited both but prefer the American Stillhouse. This is a beautiful property with a lot of tour and tasting options.

    Sleep in Louisville or Bardstown.

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    Great Distilleries On The Bourbon Trail

    In Kentucky, there are more barrels of bourbon aging in warehouses than there are people and horses combined! Nestled in the rolling hills of central Kentucky are some of the oldest and best bourbon distilleries in America, many of which offer tours and tastings to visitors from all over the world. The Kentucky Bourbon Trail, sponsored by the Kentucky Distillers Association, is a program to promote the Bourbon industry in Kentucky. Whether you consider yourself a bourbon connoisseur or have never tried the liquor before, the Kentucky Bourbon Trail has something for you!

    Do I Need To Make Reservations For The Kentucky Bourbon Trail

    The Don’ts of the Bourbon Trail in Kentucky

    Ihighly recommend making reservations for the distillery tours on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. During the popular seasons , its common for popular tours to book out months in advance. Its also a huge bummer if you have your heart set on touring a certain distillery, and when you arrive in Kentucky, the tour is booked out.

    Its also important to plan to arrive for your distillery tour at least 15 minutes in advance. Distillery tours typically begin promptly on the hour, and if you run into a traffic jam or cant find parking, you may miss the entire tour.

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    The Backroads Bourbon Tour Weekend Itineraryday 1

    Arrive at The Woodford Inn in Versailles, Kentucky, for a 6pm private palate training with Tim Knittel, a Certified Stave & Thief Society Executive Bourbon Steward. Often compared to a Wine Sommelier, Executive Bourbon Steward is the highest classification available for a professional bourbon educator. Tim will teach you how to get over the alcohol wall to detect and enjoy bourbons many flavor profiles.

    Dinner and music follows at the Woodford Inn.

    A Summary Of Bourbon Distilleries Visited

    The following is a brief summary of each tour and tasting offered at the distilleries we visited in July 2016. As prices and tasting offerings change regularly, your experience may vary.

    I will also be noting our favorite spirits from each distillery below, if only just so you can judge your own pallet against ours in determining if a distillery is worth visiting with your limited time. We are not connoisseur’s like dedicated bourbon blogs, but we do have a fine enough appreciation to be able to talk about bourbon at length here.

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    How Much Does It Cost To Do The Kentucky Bourbon Trail

    It depends. How many in your party are participating in tastings? Are you doing tours at every stop? But if we were to give you a ballpark number: a weekend could start at $500 for two people, which does not include food and gas, but would include an overnight stay & tastings at every stop. You could definitely reduce that cost, depending on what you do at every distillery and where you stop to eat.

    Bonus Three Days In Louisville

    Printable Kentucky Bourbon Trail Map

    If you have three days in Louisville, follow our day #1 and day #2 itineraries above. On the third day, watch the horse races at Churchill Downs. It is a very fun thing to do and it was one of our highlights on our first trip to Kentucky.

    Races do not run year-round. Check the Churchill Downs website for the race schedule before you go.

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    How To Taste Bourbon

    Now before we start ordering flights and savoring the Kentucky hug, AKA that good warm burn you get while sipping bourbon, it might be beneficial to get a few pointers on how to properly taste the raw spirit. Because if this is your first experience with bourbon, youre gonna want to acclimate your palate.

    The most important part of a tasting is the connection a scent or flavor can bridge in your mind. So even if it sounds a little crazy, dont be shy and give an honest opinion on what youre experiencing.

    First step is the easiest! Notice the color. Color comes mostly from the barrel and age, so although it may look all the same at first glance, compare different bourbons from one another. Some might appear slightly more straw color, while others are deep orange and dark amber in color. Typically lighter colors are lighter in taste.

    Second step is just as easy, sniffing the bourbon. Most proper bourbon glasses will be tapered toward the top to funnel the aromas. Now dont stick your nose deep into the glass or you risk burning your nose with the heavy alcohol vapors, so give a little distance and a light whiff. You can even plug each nostril and smell it through one at a time. Is it Sweet? Or spicy? Or maybe it kinda reminds you of smoked bacon all valid responses, I promise.

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