The Kentucky Bourbon Trail® is a definitive tourist destination in the United States. Located throughout Kentucky, the trail is dotted with dozens of distilleries both traditional and modern. Regardless if you drink bourbon or not, the distilleries and their stories offer a glimpse of America’s past, present and future and are entertaining and informative for all.
As an official sponsor of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail®, Mint Julep is happy to provide a guide to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail®. In this guide you’ll find answers to the following questions often asked by those planning a trip to Bourbon Country.
- What is the Kentucky Bourbon Trail®?
- What Distilleries on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail®?
- What are the common tour routes to explore the Kentucky Bourbon Trail®?
- Best Time To Visit the Kentucky Bourbon Trail®?
- How Best To Tour The Kentucky Bourbon Trail®?
- Don’t Forget Your Kentucky Bourbon Trail® Passport
- Is The Kentucky Bourbon Trail® Only Bourbon Distilleries?
- What To Know Before You Hit The Bourbon Trail
What is the Kentucky Bourbon Trail®?
The Kentucky Bourbon Trail® was established in 1999 as a road trip experience for bourbon lovers. It has grown steadily ever since and has expanded to include the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® Craft Tour. The main trail features 17 distilleries dotted all throughout Kentucky, while the craft tour features 20. More than 2.5 million visitors from all 50 states and 25 countries have embarked on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® in the last five years alone.
What distilleries on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail®?
Kentucky Bourbon Trail® Distilleries Include:
- Angel’s Envy
- Bardstown Bourbon Co.
- Bulleit Distilling
- Evan Williams Bourbon Experience
- Four Roses
- Heaven Hill
- Jim Beam American Stillhouse & Urban Stillhouse
- Lux Row
- Maker’s Mark
- Old Forester
- O.Z. Tyler
What are the common tour routes to explore the Kentucky Bourbon Trail®?
- New Riff
- Second Sight
- Old Pogue
- Boone County
- Neeley Family
- Kentucky Artisan
- Kentucky Peerless
- Jeptha Creed
- Boundary Oak
- Casey Jones
- MB Roland
- Dueling Grounds
- Limestone Branch
- Wilderness Trail
- Barrel House
- James E. Pepper
- Bluegrass Distillers
- Hartfield & Co.
Best Time To Visit the Kentucky Bourbon Trail®?
The beauty with the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® is you can visit anytime of the year, as the distilleries operate year-round. Some distilleries are closed to the public on certain days of the week, but most are open seven days a week.
How Best To Tour The Kentucky Bourbon Trail®?
Your best bet to embark on and enjoy the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® is to go with an esteemed tour company like Mint Julep Experiences, which has been leading Kentucky Bourbon Trail® tours for more than 10 years. Whether you’re looking for a one-day adventure or a multi-day experience, they can create an all-inclusive trip that’ll save you time and hassles. Each custom tour comes with guaranteed admission into the distilleries of your choice, as well as guided transportation, lunch at local favorites and much, much more. Mint Julep also offers public tours that depart on select days throughout the week and include stops at three distilleries plus lunch.
If you choose to drive yourself, you’ll need to book tours in advance and plan on covering two to three per day — as long as those distilleries are in close proximity to each other.
Don’t Forget Your Kentucky Bourbon Trail® Passport
You can pick up an official Kentucky Bourbon Trail® Passport at any of the 17 participating distilleries free of charge. Kentucky Bourbon Trail® Craft Tour Passports are available at all 20 craft distilleries for a fee of $3. Once you collect stamps at each distillery, you can turn in or send in your passport for a one-of-a-kind prize.
Is The Kentucky Bourbon Trail® Only Bourbon Distilleries?
While the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® only includes bourbon distilleries, there is much more to see and do while here. Many cities and towns throughout Kentucky have bourbon-inspired restaurants, hotels and B&B options. You can also visit working cooperages, where bourbon barrels are made, like the Brown-Forman Cooperage in Louisville, which you can only visit with Mint Julep Experiences. Louisville also boasts the Urban Bourbon Trail®, where you can hop around to the best cocktail bars in the city to collect stamps in a passport, much like the Kentucky Bourbon Trail®. Louisville and Lexington are home to thriving brewery scenes as well.
What To Know Before You Hit The Bourbon Trail
- Book your tour reservations in advance — at least a week, if not more.
- Leave plenty of time between tours to assure you arrive 15 minutes before your tour starts.
- Children can attend tours as long as they’re accompanied by an adult. You must be 21 to participate in tastings.
- Some distilleries offer samples of other products during tastings, such as moonshine or vodka.
- Some distilleries sell cocktails before and/or after tours.
- Most distilleries sell bottles and other merchandise at their Visitor’s Centers.
- Plan on spending at least 90 minutes at each distillery for the tour and tasting (although some specialty tours could take longer).