Bourbon Trail Advice

Nihon_Ni

真喜志友幸
#1
I'm planning a trip to the Bourbon Trail with the missus, the boss and his wife. I just thought I'd seek out any advice from anyone who has done it before. Are there places I definitely should visit, and others that I might want to avoid? We're planning to spend either a full day or most of a day on the trail, so we won't have time to get to all of them, so I'm trying to prioritize the places we should visit. We're planning to fly there and rent a car to drive ourselves around, unless there's a better mode of transportation.

Thanks in advance!
 

modo22

Well-Known Member
#2
I did this back in 2016 and I loved it. I used a tour company called Mint Julep tours. They were great to work with. I only did a tour to 3 distilleries, but I want to go back and do a few others one day. I would not drive myself around as some are pretty spread out. We did Wild Turkey, Woodford, and Buffalo Trace. HIGHLY recommend Buffalo Trace! Woodford was also beautiful; but I would skip WT unless thats your brand.

The downtown Louisville area is amazing to stay in for a few days, they are so passionate about their history! Even our Uber driver was excited to talk to us about Bourbon and give us more history and suggestions than we could have ever asked for.

Maybe take a 1/2 day to hit some of the ones south of the city on your own, then take a full day to do the bus tour.
Well worth it!! And if you do the bus tour, bring a cooler with some drinks or mixers (and cups) because you can buy from the distillery and drink on the bus!
 

jbfurdog

Well-Known Member
#3
We went and stayed in the Frankfort area. It seemed more centrally located to the distilleries I wanted to see. Buffalo Trace is not a part of the trial anymore (at least not as of November 2018) but you still should go there. Woodford Reserve is a good one too plus there is a delicious hole in the wall restaurant you can hit up on your way out. Get the Burgoo, it was tasty. We also went to Alltech brewery and distillery, you get beer and bourbon tasting there. Don't forget to go to Justins' House of Bourbon in Lexington. You can see some ridiculous secondary market prices on some rare bourbons. Last but not least go visit Rebbeca Ruth buy chocolates and her bourbon balls!

ETA: The tours last at least and hour and a half it seems and some have more in depth tours that you need to schedule in advance.
Since the distilleries have to pay to be included in the Bourbon Trail Tour, some smaller guys you won't see. Might be worth it so seek one out for maybe a more intimate look at the process?
 
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Brickhouse

J.C. Newman owes me royalties.
#4
I have been twice and done about 8 distilleries now. I can tell you for certain that if you only have a day then you need to pick 2 or 3 at max. There's no way to do more than that unless you have no interest in their tours at each location. Tours are around 1.5hrs and usually only run between around 10am and 4pm. The distilleries are not open late, this is the reason it is tough to do many in a day.

Which location are you going to? The Louisville/Bardstown area or Frankfurt/Lexington area? If you're doing Louisville/Bardstown I can give you a ton of information. I haven't made it to the Frankfurt side yet.

I've done:

Makers Mark
Willett
Heaven Hill
Angels Envy
Bulleit/Stitzel Weller
Old Forester
New Riff

Bardstown itself is it's own little attraction, and it's neat to stop in and eat at while you're around there.

Let me know how much time you have and which area you're going to and I can further advise.
 

LarryH

Stogiesaurus
#5
I did Four Roses, WT, and Woodford in what seems like about half a day but maybe it was longer. I think the drives were about 15 to 20 minutes each. Woodford was cool because it’s such a small distillery. They rolled the barrels from the barrel house to the bottling line by hand. :)
 

Nihon_Ni

真喜志友幸
#7
Thanks for all the input! I'm still formulating the plan, so I haven't decided where to set up base camp. My wife stopped at Buffalo Trace this fall and she said it was great. She wants to go back to it, so I'm looking at a tour that will include it. Cooper Still has a tour of Buffalo Trace, Kentucky Artisans and Woodford Reserve. Mint Julep Tours has Woodford, Buffalo Trace, Stitzel-Weller.

I was looking into the bus tours but it sounds like it's just hauling you from hotel to three distilleries, stop to let you buy lunch, and get you back to the hotel, is that right? Is there something else to the group tours that I'm missing? Seems like a lot of cash for a party bus -- for the four of us the bus is $7-900. Does the bus include tour guides or any other perk other than an ice chest?

I just did a search for chauffeur service in Lexington and found Dryver -- they drive your car for $23/hr. That seems like a cheaper option with tons more flexibility, as long as there's not another aspect to the bus tour that I'm not considering.
 

jbfurdog

Well-Known Member
#9
I don’t know where your taste in whisky lies. But if you enjoy an Irish whisky, then at Alltech distillery they have an Irish style whisky called, Pearce Lyons Reserve that I found enjoyable.

image.jpg
 
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Nihon_Ni

真喜志友幸
#12
It’s difficult on the Louisville side of the trail because most distilleries are way out in no mans land. It’s not a whole consolidated area.

You’re better off hiring a driver for the day.
Thanks. The more I think about it, the more I like the personal driver option. I love the idea of being flexible and being able to venture off the beaten path. I'm sure the driver we end up with won't be making his first trip to the Trail, so she'll probably have good suggestions for where to go and how to do it.
 

DePasta

Stop it! That tickles!
#14
I have been known to drive a few of the blokes on this site around the distilleries.....but seriously there are 3 parts, local, Bardstown area and Frankfort. Best on the Frankfort side are Buffalo Trace, Woodford and the new Castle&Key (Used to be the Old Taylor site) distilleries....Four Roses too if you can make it but lately the experience has been meh. Lexington is trying but not yet worth the trip yet IMHO

Bardstown, Beam is crowded but lots of tasting opportunities, Maker's is a good experience and Heaven Hill is somewhat of a sanitized experience. Make sure you hit up Willet, they are more intimate. Hit up the cooperage toward Lawrenceburg although tours are limited. Hit up Kurtz, Mammy's or Old Talbott for lunch/dinner.

Locally, a lot of recent options have opened including Evan Williams, head over to Bulleit too, while not a huge fan of the bourbon the experience is good. Restaurants can be found with a plethora of offerings. Downtown, hit up Down 1 bar, Dish on Main is an off the path dive where you can get a bourbon and a burger cheap. the Silver Dollar is nice. Feast Barbecue has bourbon slushies which are fun and good food, people line up there.
Other distilleries of mention are Peerless and Copper and Kings (Brandy and Absinthe) Angels Envy is open but I am not a fan.

Mint Julep tours is the equivalent to the limos in wine country. In most cases though it is really difficult to drink enough to get drunk, but if on the safe side then go for it.

Uber/Lyft isn't really an option as there are significant distances between the sites.
 

Brickhouse

J.C. Newman owes me royalties.
#15
I have been known to drive a few of the blokes on this site around the distilleries.....but seriously there are 3 parts, local, Bardstown area and Frankfort. Best on the Frankfort side are Buffalo Trace, Woodford and the new Castle&Key (Used to be the Old Taylor site) distilleries....Four Roses too if you can make it but lately the experience has been meh. Lexington is trying but not yet worth the trip yet IMHO

Bardstown, Beam is crowded but lots of tasting opportunities, Maker's is a good experience and Heaven Hill is somewhat of a sanitized experience. Make sure you hit up Willet, they are more intimate. Hit up the cooperage toward Lawrenceburg although tours are limited. Hit up Kurtz, Mammy's or Old Talbott for lunch/dinner.

Locally, a lot of recent options have opened including Evan Williams, head over to Bulleit too, while not a huge fan of the bourbon the experience is good. Restaurants can be found with a plethora of offerings. Downtown, hit up Down 1 bar, Dish on Main is an off the path dive where you can get a bourbon and a burger cheap. the Silver Dollar is nice. Feast Barbecue has bourbon slushies which are fun and good food, people line up there.
Other distilleries of mention are Peerless and Copper and Kings (Brandy and Absinthe) Angels Envy is open but I am not a fan.

Mint Julep tours is the equivalent to the limos in wine country. In most cases though it is really difficult to drink enough to get drunk, but if on the safe side then go for it.

Uber/Lyft isn't really an option as there are significant distances between the sites.
I agree with a lot here, but have to say that we did Angel's Envy and it was one of our favorites of all distilleries. It was my wifes favorite. I really liked visiting their site in Louisville.
 

DePasta

Stop it! That tickles!
#16
I agree with a lot here, but have to say that we did Angel's Envy and it was one of our favorites of all distilleries. It was my wifes favorite. I really liked visiting their site in Louisville.
Yeah, I should qualify that, not a fan of the individuals who were principles in starting Angel's Envy......so I don't do much to support the cause.
 

CBoukal

Long time Newbie
#17
Yeah, I should qualify that, not a fan of the individuals who were principles in starting Angel's Envy......so I don't do much to support the cause.
Now you have me interested... I did the tour last year and they talk about a father and his 6 kids or however many wanted to make a legacy and they talked his father into helping them get started. Something about him being a retired master distilled from Jack Daniels??? I am very curious what the real story is.
 
#18
As everyone has said, stick to the primary outposts on the trail. You will no doubt see some details on the Bourbon Trail Craft Tour. The Craft Tour hits some of the more micro distilleries - along with a few old names. Most are skippable unless they are super convenient to you. For example, New Riff and Boone County are both somewhat near my office - no need to make a special trip to either of those. Willet is probably the one on the Craft Tour worth seeing though.

On the trail, O.Z. Tyler is skippable unless you want to hit some Owensboro barbecue joints while you are down there.

I am partial to the Bardstown and Frankfort places. That is a good area of Kentucky and some good scenery throughout. In my opinion you can't miss when you go to Bardstown / Frankfort distilleries. Is going Wild Turkey as good as going to Buffalo Trace - no, but it's still an impressive operation.
 

DePasta

Stop it! That tickles!
#19
Now you have me interested... I did the tour last year and they talk about a father and his 6 kids or however many wanted to make a legacy and they talked his father into helping them get started. Something about him being a retired master distilled from Jack Daniels??? I am very curious what the real story is.
Well without going into details, we run in some of the same circles. Lincoln, the father was a distiller at Jack. Wes is his son....has a history in the area and stepped on a lot of good people on his way to his “dream”
 
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