The Kentucky Bourbon Trail tour is to bourbon what Napa Valley is to wine, and nowhere else in the world can you sample from so many distilleries without crossing state lines. When you take Kentucky Bourbon Trail tour, you'll see how Kentucky whiskey is crafted, learn about its rich history and get to sample the spirit.
Kentucky's connection with bourbon dates back to the 1700s when local settlers began converting corn and grains to whiskey to prevent the excess from rotting. The spirit would get shipped down the Mississippi in oak barrels with a Bourbon County stamp on them – hence the name – and the transportation time would age the beverage.
While there are a few bourbons produced outside of Kentucky, the state provides excellent conditions for its production. Kentucky distillers will tell you it's the pure, limestone-filtered water of the state that's integral in making the perfect bourbon. As the birthplace of bourbon, about 95 percent of the world's supply is produced and distilled in Kentucky.
The Kentucky Bourbon Trail tour doesn't exactly have beginning and an end. Instead, you're invited to explore the area's historic communities and world-famous distilleries while learning about the state's 200-year history of bourbon production. In three days, you can make it from Lexington to Louisville with stops at Versailles, Lawrenceburg, Lebanon, Loretto, Bardstown and Shepherdsville along the way.
For a different Kentucky Bourbon Trail experience, tour it by bike. Three separate routes take you through scenic Kentucky along safe, rural roads. It's possible to tour Woodford Reserve, Wild Turkey and Four Roses in a single day, or extend your bicycling trip to see even more.
Anyone taking the Kentucky Bourbon Trail tour must plan for a stop in Bardstown, the Bourbon Capital of the World. Plan to spend a night in this charming community to find out why it was voted one of the most beautiful small towns in the country. When you're not sampling whiskey, check out the town's vintage train and Civil War museums.
While in Bardstown, make sure to stop in for a drink at the Old Talbott Tavern, the nation's oldest bourbon bar. The tavern has been operating in the same location since 1779, giving road-weary travelers a place to rest and relax for the night. Famous guests of the tavern include Abraham Lincoln, Daniel Boone and King Louis Phillipe.
Ultimately, the Kentucky Bourbon Trail experience is a celebration of this classic American spirit. You can expect to sample the whiskey's of all seven Kentucky Distillers' Association members: Jim Bean, Heaven Hill, Four Roses, Maker's Mark, Town Branch, Wild Turkey and Woodford Reserve.