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A Local’s Guide to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail

Did you know that 95% of the world’s bourbon is made in Kentucky? As “America’s Native Spirit”, to be considered bourbon it must be made in the U.S. Bourbon pours through the rich history of Kentucky, from pioneer days to modern times. During your stay in Lexington, experience the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® like a local and learn about Kentucky’s bourbon history and culture with our guide below.

But first…what is bourbon?

For a whiskey to call itself a bourbon, its mash, the mixture of grains from which the product is distilled, must contain at least 51% corn. The mash must be distilled at 160-proof or less, put into the barrel at 125-proof or less, containing no additives, and finally must be aged in a new oak barrel. And of course, for a whiskey to be called bourbon it must be made in the U.S.

Kentucky Bourbon Trail

Uncover all the different tastes along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® and visit 10 different distilleries, such as Maker’s Mark, Jim Beam, Bulleit, and Wild Turkey. Learn about the bourbon making process, recipes, view the facilities, and of course sample some of the finest bourbons around. Start your tour off by visiting the distilleries right here in Lexington, KY. As one of the official “trailheads” of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail®, Lexington has enough distilleries to fill your entire day.

Woodford Reserve Distillery

Just outside of Lexington in Versailles, nestled in the hills of bluegrass country and galloping horses is the historic distillery, Woodford Reserve Distillery. Crafting whiskey since 1812, Woodford Reserve is the oldest distillery in Kentucky. On this exact spot is where common distilling practices that are used today, were discovered, such as the implementation of sour mash into fermentation. Sample their award-winning bourbon, Kentucky Straight Bourbon, for a taste that is out of this world. Call ahead for tours and upcoming events.

  • Tour Price: Starting at $15
  • Tasting with tour: Yes

Town Branch

Located in the heart of Lexington is Town Branch, a distillery that also brews their own beer. As the oldest craft brewery in Lexington, producing the Kentucky Ale®, dating back to 1794. The distillery was added much later in 2011, which now produces the first malt whiskey produced in Kentucky since Prohibition, the Pearse Lyons Reserve®. It was also just announced this year that they will be bringing Pearse Irish Whiskey to the U.S. market.

  • Tour Price: Starting at $10
  • Tasting with tour: Yes…four to be exact!

Evan Williams Bourbon Experience

Located in the heart of Louisville, right on historic “Whiskey Row”, Evan Williams offers one of the more advanced tours on the trail. Named after Evan Williams, Kentucky’s first commercial distiller, a visit here is sure to bring to life the history and tradition of Kentucky Bourbon.

  • Tour Price: Starting at $14
  • Tasting with tour: Yes

Bulleit Frontier Whiskey

Also located in Louisville is Bulleit Frontier Whiskey, also known as Stitzel-Weller Distillery. Specializing in high-rye bourbon whiskey, its use of Kentucky limestone-filtered water provides the foundation for the bourbon’s flavor. With its historic look and feel, this is a tour you won’t want to miss out on.

  • Tour Price: $12
  • Tasting with tour: Yes…a portfolio of Bulleit bourbons

Wild Turkey

Producing one of the most popular bourbons in the world, Wild Turkey is a “can’t miss” stop along the trail. While known for their award-winning bourbon, Wild Turkey is also known as having the world’s longest-tenured active master distiller, Jimmy Russell, whose son has now since taken over as master distiller after 35 years.

  • Tour Price: Barrel to Bottle Tour is $11
  • Tasting with tour: Yes

Four Roses

Located in Lawrenceburg, Four Roses is a historic distillery with a Spanish Mission-style architecture, making it one of the more unique stops along the trail. They have been making bourbon since 1888, celebrating their 130-year anniversary this year. Be sure to take one of their tours to learn about their unique distilling process.

  • Tour Price: $5
  • Tasting with tour: No

Jim Beam American Stillhouse

As Kentucky’s largest bourbon producer, Jim Beam is one of the most influential distilleries within the Kentucky bourbon family. If you only take one tour on the trail, this is it. As the longest tour offered amongst the distilleries on the trail, you will learn the entire process of the production of bourbon.

  • Tour Price: Distillery Tour $14
  • Tasting with tour: Yes

Maker’s Mark

Overall if you only have time to visit one distillery along the trail, make it Maker’s Mark. With their beautiful grounds, unique history, and some of the most palatable bourbon you’ll try, Maker’s Mark is one stop that can’t be missed.

  • Tour Price: Distillery Tour $9
  • Tasting with tour: Yes

Heaven Hill

A family owned and operated business, Heaven Hill has expanded over the years to managing other bourbon labels, such as Elijah Craig and Evan Williams. While there isn’t a distillery to tour anymore (original one burnt down in 1996), you are able to tour their Bourbon Heritage Center, where you can learn about the history of American Whiskey.

  • Tour Price: Starting at $10
  • Tasting with tour: Yes

Angel’s Envy

As the last distillery to be added to the trail in 2017, Angel’s Envy is known for their bourbon that is aged in Port Wine barrels. This father-son team is one of the newest distilleries to open in Louisville, offering truly unique tasting bourbon.

  • Tour Price: $20 (reservations only)
  • Tasting with tour: Yes

Enjoy a part of Kentucky history by seeing one of the distilleries or seeing them all during your stay at Bluegrass Extended Stay.