Tuesday, August 9, 2016

A bourbon blast in Louisville

Visiting Louisville? Make time for a stop at the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.

Created in 1999 by the Kentucky Distiller’s Association, the KBT guides you to nine distilleries that offer visitor centers, tours, and tastings. You can learn about bourbon history (dating back to the late 1700s), Congressional rules for calling a whiskey “bourbon,” and vari-ations in the distilling process that create distinct flavors.

Start at the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience on Louisville’s Whiskey Row, where you’ll enjoy a guided tour through museum-quality exhibits before tasting several well-aged bourbons. Nearby is Jim Beam’s Urban Stillhouse, where you can label a bottle and fill it with bourbon that was produced onsite. Five miles from downtown Louisville, ­Bulleit Frontier Whiskey ­Experience offers tours of its Stitzel-Weller distillery, which dates back to 1935. 

The rest of the distilleries on the Bourbon Trail are scattered through the rolling hills of central Kentucky. While they’re all within 90 miles of Louisville, the road system and limited visitor hours preclude seeing every one of them in one day. However, limo services offer four-hour and full-day tours focused on a single area.

For example, in one day, you can tour the historic Woodford Reserve distillery, explore the glass and wood-plank visitor center at Wild Turkey, sample bourbon at Four Roses, and sneak a peek at Town Branch’s ultramodern glass-walled distillery. Another day, you can tour the Bardstown region, stopping in at Maker’s Mark, Jim Beam’s American Stillhouse, and Heaven Hill’s Bourbon Heritage Center.

Then top off your trip with an $80 shot of Pappy Van Winkle at KBT-sponsor Old Talbott Tavern.

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