Bourbon County is definitely a place to visit, even for those who don’t drink. Kentucky has beautiful landscapes with rolling hills, rocky cliff faces, and lush green foliage. Some of the most beautiful places I visited while in Kentucky were the distilleries along the Bourbon Trail.
The Bourbon Trail is a list of 10 distilleries throughout Northern Kentucky. Most of these are located between Louisville and Lexington. A detailed website is available to help plan your trip and a passport is available at any location to begin collecting your stamps. A gift is available upon completing all ten locations. Normally, this is a t-shirt. This year, however, they switched it over to a bourbon tasting glass etched with the year completed! I much prefer this gift over a t-shirt and am happy the timing worked out!
While I enjoyed my whiskey before embarking on the bourbon trail, this experience taught me much and expanded my taste widely. Bourbon is a subset of whiskey; all bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon. In order to be labeled as bourbon, the following criteria needs to be met:
- Made in America
- Aged in a new, charred white oak barrel
- Contain at least 51% corn
- Have no additional flavor or coloring
Each distillery had something different to offer. It was fascinating learning the similarities and differences between each distillery despite the current size or rocky past it overcame. The Evan Williams Experience, located in downtown Louisville, offered a video/animated walk through old time Louisville and showcased it’s artisan stills. Four Roses quickly became my favorite bourbon. Their distillery is surrounded by beautiful landscape and includes an outdoor tasting area. Our tasting guide suggested using their yellow label to make brownies and I almost ditched the rest of my planned day to go home and try it out right then! (I did make brownies with Four Roses a few days later and she was right, they were amazing!). New Town is the newest distillery to be included on the trail and also makes one of my favorite beers from Kentucky. There were beers available for tasting on this tour as well as liquor. Each distillery has a unique history and gorgeous views, finished off with a tasting of a variety of liquors each offers.
If you’re in Kentucky and looking for a fun, educational activity, I recommend visiting a local distillery. Most will allow minors on the tour, but not the tasting portion. Some of the distilleries even offer chocolate at the end!