The Kentucky Bourbon tour (but don’t play the fool …)

One evening after work we were sipping some scotch, Cello looked at me and said, “You know the problem with scotch? It’s not bourbon.” This travel suggestion is just for him (and all you bourbon lovers.)

No joke, the Kentucky Bourbon Trail wanders between Lexington and Louisville and takes you to six distilleries known for crafting the finest bourbon. At each location you’ll receive a stamp to put on your Trail passport. Tours offer tastings for the of age folks. The distilleries can be visited in any order you choose. Hopefully, I don’t really need to tell you this, but don’t drink and drive … (Kentucky alcohol laws)


The history of Bourbon:

It began in the 1700s with the first settlers of Kentucky. Like most farmers and frontiersmen, they found that getting crops to market over narrow trails and steep mountains was a daunting task.

They soon learned that converting corn and other grains to whiskey made them easily transportable, prevented the excess grain from simply rotting, and gave them some welcome diversion from the rough life of the frontier. Since then, generations of Kentuckians have continued the heritage and time-honored tradition of making fine Bourbon, unchanged from the process used by their ancestors centuries before.

So how did it get the name Bourbon? Well, one of Kentucky’s three original counties was Bourbon County, established in 1785 when Kentucky was still part of Virginia. Farmers shipped their whiskey in oak barrels — stamped from Bourbon County — down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to New Orleans. The long trip aged the whiskey, with the oak wood giving it the distinct mellow flavor and amber color. Pretty soon, whiskey from Bourbon County grew in popularity and became known as Bourbon whiskey.


Four Roses Distillery
1224 Bonds Mill Road
Lawrenceburg, Kentucky 40342
(502) 839-3436 ext. 18

Tours start on the hour:
Monday – Saturday, 9am – 3pm
Sunday 12pm – 3pm

Gift shop:
Monday – Saturday, 9am – 4pm
Sunday, 12pm – 4pm


Heaven Hill Distilleries
1311 Gilkey Run Road
Bardstown, Kentucky 40004
(502) 337-1000

Mini tour ($3):
Monday – Saturday, 10am to 5pm (last tour at 4:00PM)


Jim Beam Distillery
526 Happy Hollow Road
Clermont, Kentucky 40110
(502) 543-9877

Tour ($8):
Monday-Saturday 9:30am–3:30pm
Sunday 12pm–4:30pm

Gift Shop:
Monday-Saturday 9am–5:30pm
Sunday 12pm–4:30pm


Maker’s Mark Distillery
3350 Burks Spring Road
Loretto, Kentucky 40037
(270) 865-2099

Tour ($7):
Monday – Saturday, 10:30am – 3:30pm
Sunday, March through December: 1:30, 2:30 and 3:30pm

There is no charge for active duty military with an ID. Summer shut down will be from August 15 to September 15. Full tours will still be available, but bourbon will not be in production.


Wild Turkey Distillery
1525 Tyrone Road
Lawrenceburg, Kentucky 40342
(502) 839-4544

Tour Hours:
Monday – Saturday, 9am – 3pm
Sunday 12pm – 3pm (March-November only)
Tours offered on the hour

Gift Shop Hours:
Monday- Saturday, 9am – 4pm
Sunday, 12pm – 4pm (March-November only)


Woodford Reserve Distillery
7855 McCracken Pike
Versailles, Kentucky 40383
(859) 879-1812

Hours & Gift Shop
Monday – Saturday, 9am – 5pm
Sunday (April – December Only), 12:30pm – 4:30pm

Once you’ve finished your whiskey wanderings, send your completed passport to the address below for a free t-shirt:

Kentucky Bourbon Trail
838 East High Street
Suite 165
Lexington, KY 40502

(Photo and info from Kentucky Bourbon Trail website)