Ah, whiskey! Ah, distilleries! Ah, whiskey distilleries! A one-of-a-kind, gut-warming way to spend a weekend...tasting, strolling, learning, and indulging in limited edition varieties of bourbons, whiskeys, and equally as delicious golden-brown liquids to soothe the soul. Our best distillery tours list selections are fondly located on the iconic Kentucky Bourbon Trail. We hope you find one or two choices on the list that will delight you and entice you equally.
When European immigrants overtook the Indigenous of the modern-day state of Kentucky, they brought with them their love for distilling. Kentucky's climate is the ideal environment for bourbon distillation, and 95% of all the bourbon in the world comes from around 70 distilleries in Bourbon County, Kentucky. Our list focuses on the top Kentucky distilleries found on the beloved "Kentucky Bourbon Trail," a road trip with over 37 tasting experiences, guided tours, and tasting rooms to discover all things bourbon.
7 Best Distillery Tours in Kentucky
Tracing its history to 1795, when Jacob Beam sold his first barrel of corn whiskey, Jim Beam has served as the world's best-selling bourbon maker for years and years. The distillery tour shows guests the impressive complete process of making its Kentucky whiskey in its home of Clermont. These master distillers carry on over eight generations of tradition, from their small-batch flavors to their widely known and love classic bourbon.
Maker's Mark Distillery
Covering over 1,000 acres in Loretto, Kentucky, you will find the incredible grounds of Maker's Mark. From its start in 1953, this bourbon distillery is also a National Historic Landmark. They are still doing things the old-fashioned way. Take an hour-long bourbon distillery tour. You can witness the distillation process and see that each bottle is hand dipped and rotated in its famous red-wax seal. Guests even have the chance to dip their own bottles! FUn fact, Maker's Mark honors the ancestry of Scotland by spelling their liquid gold "whisky," not "whiskey."
One of the oldest working bourbon distilleries in the states, Woodford Reserve is located on an idyllic stretch of land in Versailles, Kentucky. Take a tour of the distilling grounds that explain the brand's history the uniqueness of WR, and end the 70-minute walking tour by tasting the award-winning bourbon. Created in 1812, Woodford Reserve is also a National Historic Landmark.
Buffalo Trace Distillery
For over 200 years, master distillers have been crafting some of the finest bourbon whiskey in the world at the first distillery in to continuously operate in the United States. Located where the early buffalo used to cross the Kentucky River, Buffalo Trace was even allowed to remain in operation during the American Prohibition for the whiskey's medicinal purposes. Their Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey has secured more awards than any purveyor worldwide and is still family-owned and operated today. Plan a visit to their sprawling campus in Frankfort or shop their online gift shop.
Bulleit Distilling Co.
Dubbing themselves the "modern frontier of whiskey," Bulleit has been upping the ante for whiskey drinkers and lovers since their inception in 1987. One of the fastest-growing whiskey brands in the states, the Bulleit Frontier family is distilled in a distinguished whiskey recipe for just the perfect fusion of bite and smoothness. In 2019, the company opened its bound-breaking facility in Shelbyville, utilizing sustainable practices such as habitat protection, water conversation, and sourcing from local businesses. From the one-hour tour to the craft cocktail-making classes to the fully immersive tasting experience, Bulleit Distilling Co. has an option forever visitor!
Located in Shivley just outside of downtown Louisville, the Stitzel-Weller Distillery offers libation lovers and whiskey conesourirs a high-end experience to discover the best of Bourbon Country. The story of Blade and Bow started at this location in 1935 and was acquired by Diageo and reopened to the public again in 2014. This in-depth tour now houses Blade and Bow, I.W. Harper, and Orphan Barrel, representing the gathers of bourbon.
Dubbed the Bourbon Capital of the World, Bardstown Bourbon is where baptist minister Elijah Craig created the signature American spirit, Bourbon. That happened in 1789, and ever since, people worldwide have been representing the spirit of America through sips and conversations around fireplaces and dinner tables. When you visit Bardstown, you can experience 11 local and regional distilleries, including some mentioned on this list, plus other favorites like Four Roses Distillery, Heaven Hill Distillery, Bardstown Bourbon Company, and more!
Sippin' in Second
-Old Forester, the world's first bottled bourbon in Louisville
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