While the Kentucky Bourbon Trail is a collection of distilleries around the state, the Urban Bourbon Trail® (UBT) is very different. Mint Julep gets a lot of inquiries from travelers who think that the Urban Bourbon Trail® includes Louisville distilleries. Instead, the UBT is a group of bars and restaurants dedicated to serving bourbon and elevating the bourbon experience. Each stop has at very least 50 bourbons behind the bar, some with nearly 200!
Like the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, a passport is involved. Pick up your Urban Bourbon® passport at any of the stops below. Unlike the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, though, you don’t need to go to them all. Bourbon lovers earn a t-shirt after successfully visiting 6 destinations and ordering a bourbon cocktail. Your prize can be collected at the Visitor’s Center downtown (at 4th and Jefferson St.) or by mail.
The Urban Bourbon Trail® was founded in 2008 with five locally-owned and operated members including The Bar at Blu, Brown Hotel Lobby Bar, The Old Seelbach Bar and Proof on Main.
You don’t have to travel far from Louisville to experience the UBT with Mint Julep Experiences. You can experience the tradition of bourbon in Kentucky and plan more things to do in Louisville with the Louisville Travel Guide.
Urban Bourbon Trail® Stops By Neighborhood
8-Up Elevated Drinkery & Kitchen
The Bar at Blu
Brendon’s Catch 23
Bristol Bar & Grille – Downtown
The Brown Hotel Lobby Bar
Corner Restaurant & Bar
Dish on Market
Doc Crow’s Southern Smokehouse & Raw Bar
Down One Bourbon Bar & Restaurant
Jockey Silks Bourbon Bar
Merle’s Whiskey Kitchen
The Old Seelbach Bar
O’Shea’s – Downtown
Proof on Main
Sidebar at Whiskey Row
Sway at the Hyatt Regency
Troll Pub Under the Bridge
NuLu and Butchertown
Clifton and St. Matthew’s
Old Louisville and Churchill Downs Area
Middletown and East
Urban Bourbon Trail® Map
Urban Bourbon Distilleries
The Urban Bourbon Trail in Louisville is a treasure trove of distilleries where visitors can immerse themselves in the world of bourbon production. Many of these distilleries not only offer tastings but also provide engaging and educational distillery tours that give a behind-the-scenes look at the bourbon-making process. Let’s explore some of the distilleries along the trail that offer captivating tours for travelers:
Evan Williams Bourbon Experience: The Evan Williams Bourbon Experience is an excellent starting point for your bourbon journey. Located on Main Street, this distillery immerses visitors in the history of the pioneering Evan Williams, who is often regarded as Kentucky’s first commercial distiller. The distillery tour offers a detailed look at the bourbon-making process, from mashing to fermentation, distillation, and aging. With interactive exhibits and guided tours, you’ll learn about the evolution of bourbon and its significance in American history. The tour typically concludes with a tasting session, allowing you to sample a range of Evan Williams bourbons, including single barrels and small-batch selections.
Kentucky Peerless Distilling Co.: Kentucky Peerless Distilling Company is a boutique distillery with a rich heritage in producing small-batch bourbons and ryes. A visit here promises a personalized experience, where you’ll witness the craft behind their award-winning spirits. The distillery tour offers insights into the distillation process, the selection of grains, barreling, and the unique bottling process. Visitors are guided through the restored distillery, giving them a sense of the brand’s dedication to craftsmanship. The tour culminates in a tasting, where you can savor the exceptional flavors of Kentucky Peerless bourbons and ryes.
Angel’s Envy Distillery: Angel’s Envy Distillery is known for its innovative approach to bourbon-making. Located in the historic downtown Louisville, this distillery offers a tour that highlights the brand’s distinctive aging process, which includes finishing the whiskey in imported casks for added complexity and flavor. During the tour, you’ll explore the distillation process, aging methods, and the influence of different woods on the bourbon’s final profile. The tour often concludes with a tasting of Angel’s Envy bourbons, allowing visitors to experience the unique and well-balanced flavors that set this distillery apart.
Copper & Kings American Brandy Company: While not exclusively a bourbon distillery, Copper & Kings is a unique stop on the Urban Bourbon Trail. This craft distillery specializes in American brandy production. Their distillery tour provides insight into the art of brandy-making, focusing on copper pot still distillation and the influence of different barrel types. Visitors can expect a diverse tasting experience that includes brandy, gin, and absinthe. It’s an opportunity to explore the broader world of American spirits beyond bourbon.
Rabbit Hole Distillery: Rabbit Hole Distillery, located in the NuLu neighborhood, is known for its modern approach to bourbon production. The distillery tour offers an in-depth exploration of their state-of-the-art facility, with a focus on the use of unique grain recipes, fermentation techniques, and modern equipment. Visitors can expect a guided tour of the distillation process and the aging facilities, followed by a tasting that includes a selection of Rabbit Hole’s innovative bourbons and ryes.
Old Forester Distilling Co.: Old Forester is steeped in history, known for being the first bourbon to be sold exclusively in sealed glass bottles. A visit to Old Forester Distilling Co. provides a glimpse into their time-honored bourbon-making traditions. The tour takes you through the distillation process, including fermentation and aging. It often concludes with a tasting of their signature bourbons, allowing you to appreciate the classic and enduring quality of Old Forester.
Popular Craft Cocktails on the Urban Bourbon Trail
While the Urban Bourbon Trail is a collection of bars and restaurants in Louisville, Kentucky, known for their extensive bourbon selections, they are also know for their innovative craft cocktails — here are just a few of them!
The Old Fashioned
Traditionally made with bourbon, simple syrup and bitters, this is a classic. It’s also the Official Cocktail of Louisville! Some places will muddle a cherry or orange in the glass, others garnish simply with orange or lemon zest.
The Mint Julep
Made with crushed ice, simple syrup, bourbon and fresh mint, this Southern favorite, and our namesake, has been a Kentucky Derby staple for many years. April has been deemed Mint Julep Month in Louisville to celebrate.
A refreshing and tangy drink made with bourbon, lemon juice, and simple syrup.
The Manhattan is a timeless cocktail that traces its roots back to the late 19th century. Legend has it that it was first concocted at the Manhattan Club in New York City for a party hosted by Winston Churchill’s mother, Lady Randolph Churchill. It traditionally combines rye whiskey (though bourbon is often used today), sweet vermouth, and bitters, creating a sophisticated and well-balanced drink that has stood the test of time.
The Boulevardier is a close cousin of the Negroni, and its history is steeped in the cocktail culture of Paris in the 1920s. The cocktail was popularized by American expatriate bartender Harry McElhone, who ran the Harry’s New York Bar in Paris. A twist on the Negroni, the Boulevardier substitutes bourbon for gin, resulting in a richer and more robust flavor profile that has delighted cocktail enthusiasts for generations.
Bourbon and Ginger
This simple yet satisfying cocktail has humble beginnings, as it emerged as a popular highball in the United States during the mid-20th century. It pairs the smooth, caramel notes of bourbon with the spicy and effervescent kick of ginger ale or ginger beer. This classic combination has been cherished for its refreshing taste and is a go-to choice for those looking for a straightforward and delicious bourbon drink.
The Louisville Mule is a regional variation of the Moscow Mule, and it showcases the affinity of Louisville, Kentucky, for bourbon. This cocktail marries bourbon with ginger beer and lime juice, a combination that brings together the spirit of the South with a hint of citrusy zing. It’s a nod to Louisville’s bourbon heritage and a refreshing choice for those seeking a twist on the classic Moscow Mule.
Smoked Bourbon Cocktails
Some bars on the Urban Bourbon Trail may offer smoked bourbon cocktails, where the bourbon is infused with smoky flavors for a unique and complex taste.
Urban Bourbon® Trail Passport
The Urban Bourbon Trail Passport is an ingenious initiative designed to showcase the finest bourbon distilleries, bars, and restaurants in a given city. While it originated in Louisville, Kentucky, the birthplace of bourbon, similar programs have since cropped up in other bourbon-centric cities, such as Lexington, Bardstown, and even some cities outside of Kentucky. Essentially, it’s a guidebook and a reward system rolled into one, encouraging you to discover the best of the local bourbon scene.
How to Obtain Your Passport
Getting your hands on an Urban Bourbon Trail Passport is relatively straightforward. Typically, you can pick up a physical passport at participating locations, tourist information centers, or even online. Some cities may offer a mobile app version of the passport, making it even more convenient for travelers.
Once you have your passport, you’re ready to start your bourbon adventure. It’s often a good idea to check the official website or inquire at visitor centers for the latest information, including the list of participating establishments, before you begin.
Making the Most of Your Passport
- Visit Participating Locations: The heart of the Urban Bourbon Trail experience is to visit participating establishments. This might include famous distilleries, whiskey bars, and restaurants with impressive bourbon menus. Each location has its unique charm and a distinct bourbon selection.
- Get Your Passport Stamped: At each stop, be sure to ask the bartender or staff to stamp your passport. This is crucial because collecting stamps is the key to unlocking rewards and bragging rights.
- Unlock Rewards: As you accumulate stamps in your passport, you’ll qualify for rewards. These rewards can range from a commemorative gift, like a t-shirt or glass, to exclusive discounts or tastings. The more locations you visit, the greater your rewards.
- Pace Yourself: Bourbon tasting can be intense. To truly savor the flavors and maintain your enthusiasm throughout the journey, consider spreading your visits over several days.
Travel Tips for an Unforgettable Bourbon Experience on the Urban Bourbon
- Designated Driver: If you’re planning to visit multiple distilleries or bars in a single day, it’s essential to have a designated driver or arrange for transportation. Safety should always be a top priority. Mint Julep Experiences takes transportation to the next level with VIP services, but also with tailored tours that not only take the hassle out of transportation planning but also navigating the Urban Bourbon Trail and booking reservations for tours and tastings — learn more about how you tailor your Urban Bourbon Tour.
- Stay Hydrated: Bourbon is potent, and it’s easy to become dehydrated. Drink plenty of water between tastings to stay refreshed and make the most of your experience.
- Eat Local: Many participating restaurants on the Urban Bourbon Trail offer delicious bourbon-inspired dishes. Don’t miss the opportunity to savor local cuisine paired with your bourbon tastings.
- Plan Ahead: Research the participating locations and their opening hours. Some distilleries may require reservations, so planning your itinerary in advance can save you time and frustration.
- Learn About Bourbon: Take the opportunity to educate yourself about bourbon. Many distilleries offer informative tours that delve into the history and production of this cherished spirit.
The Urban Bourbon Trail Passport is a fantastic way to experience the culture and history of a bourbon-rich city. With this guide in hand, you’ll be well-prepared to embark on a bourbon adventure like no other, discovering new flavors, making memories, and collecting a unique souvenir along the way. So, raise a glass and start your bourbon exploration today!
More Urban Bourbon®
The Bourbon District of Louisville
The Bourbon District in Louisville, often called the “Gateway to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail,” is a captivating blend of history and tradition, offering a deep dive into the world of bourbon. Situated at the heart of Louisville, this district is a slice of bourbon heaven. Whether you’re a bourbon connoisseur or just starting your journey, a visit here promises to deepen your appreciation for this beloved American spirit.
In the 19th century, Louisville was home to numerous distilleries and the famous Whiskey Row, a collection of historic buildings that hosted bourbon-related businesses. However, during Prohibition, the bourbon industry faced setbacks, and many distilleries closed. Thankfully, the Bourbon District and its distilleries persevered and played a pivotal role in the bourbon industry’s resurgence after Prohibition’s repeal.
When exploring the Bourbon District, be sure to include these key stops:
- Evan Williams Bourbon Experience: The first stop on the Urban Bourbon Trail, this site delves into the history of Evan Williams, a pioneer distiller. Enjoy guided tours and tastings of their exceptional bourbons.
- Bulleit Frontier Whiskey Experience: Located in the historic Stitzel-Weller Distillery, this immersive experience offers insight into Bulleit Bourbon’s heritage and unique production process.
- Kentucky Peerless Distilling Co.: Known for its small-batch bourbons and ryes, this boutique distillery provides an opportunity to witness the craft behind their spirits and sample their exceptional products.
- Historic Whiskey Row: As you stroll along Main Street, you’ll come across Historic Whiskey Row, a collection of beautifully restored buildings housing whiskey-related businesses and historic markers. It serves as a vivid testament to Louisville’s bourbon heritage.
Fun Fact: Whiskey Row was home to several iconic distilleries, including Brown-Forman, the producer of the world-famous Woodford Reserve.
The Urban Bourbon® Half Marathon
Another point of confusion comes with the Urban Bourbon® Half Marathon. Held in October each year, this Louisville race embraces the spirit of the city, but doesn’t actually visit bars or distilleries. Following the race, runners and fans celebrate at a bourbon-themed party which includes bourbon tastings from Kentucky distilleries and snacks. Runners can also show their finisher’s medal at select Urban Bourbon Trail establishments for special discounts and prizes.
Ben & Jerry’s Urban Bourbon® Ice Cream
It’s in no way related to Louisville, but Ben & Jerry’s Urban Bourbon® ice cream may be a great addition to your Kentucky trip. It’s made with burnt caramel ice cream, almonds, fudge flakes and bourbon caramel swirls.