Bourbon Distillery Tour

New routes available for public Kentucky bourbon distillery tours

Your all-inclusive ticket to Bourbon Country just got better! Mint Julep Tours has expanded options for full-day public bourbon tours on Fridays and Saturdays.

Public Bourbon Tours

Jim Beam TourStarting July 21, additional routes are open to explore the Bourbon Country with Mint Julep Tours. Each day trip includes stops at three fine Kentucky distilleries, lunch at a locally-owned restaurant, all admissions and planning, and comfortable transportation with an enthusiastic tour leader. 

  • Thursday guests tour Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark and Heaven Hill.
  • Friday guests can chose to tour distilleries on one of two routes: Woodford Reserve, Buffalo Trace and Wild Turkey; or Maker’s Mark, Limestone Branch and Heaven Hill.
  • Saturday guests can chose to tour distilleries on one of two routes: Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark and Barton 1792; or Bulleit Frontier Experience, Town Branch and Barrel House.

On a Mint Julep Tours public bourbon tour, guests visit two distilleries for tours with tastings and one distillery for a tasting-only experience. Every stop includes a visit to the gift shop for your Kentucky souvenirs.

Your Mint Julep tour leader will guide your way giving insight into Kentucky’s rich distillery history, bourbon traditions and whiskey wisdom throughout the day. Each 8+ hour bourbon tour departs from the Galt House Hotel in downtown Louisville. You’ll meet your Mint Julep Tours bus there and ride comfortably to each distillery and then returning to the Galt House that evening. Guests are welcome to bring their own coolers with snacks and beverages on the bus. Mint Julep Tours encourages you to drink responsibly.

3-Day Bourbon Country Adventures

You can even make it a three-day adventure to 9 different distilleries on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® and Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour® in three consecutive days.

To book your next Kentucky bourbon tour, shop online or call us at 502-583-1433.

Chihuly at Maker's Mark

Maker’s Mark unveils stunning installations by artist Dale Chihuly

Massive glass art pieces by Dale Chihuly are now part of the distillery tour at Maker’s Mark. Unveiled this month at the Loretto, Kentucky distillery, six new pieces give an added bonus to the whisky maker’s popular bourbon tour.

Chihuly InstallationsChihuly at Maker's Mark

Six new brilliantly-colored glass formations are now on display at Maker’s Mark distillery. The exhibition lasts through October 2017. Inspired by “the Spirit of the Maker,” the new outdoor glass installations are mingled among the various warehouses and production facilities on the Maker’s Mark grounds.

The awe-inspiring combination of crafts – bourbon and art – is a must-see for anyone traveling to Kentucky between July and October 2017. 

Dale Chihuly is an American artist, designer and craftsman known for his site-specific architectural installations displayed around the world in museums, gardens, and now, distilleries. In the past 25 years, his work has been included in more than 250 museum collections.

SHOP PUBLIC TOURS TO MAKER’S MARK

Night Illuminations and Special Events

Maker’s Mark is also offering night tours where tour guests can see each Chihuly art work illuminated with light from 6 to 10 p.m. For an elevated evening, dinners at Star Hill Provisions are available Saturday evenings pairing a farm-to-table experience from chef Newman Miller with cocktails. 

Getting to Maker’s Mark

Guests should keep in mind that Maker’s Mark is about 90 minutes outside of Louisville. Tucked down winding country roads, it’s suggested that guests coordinate a safe ride to attend night events.

Mint Julep Tours can coordinate your trip for comfortable transportation without the hassle. To start your customized tour, contact us at 502-583-1433 or fill out our contact form and an experience coordinator will reach out to plan your Kentucky bourbon adventure!

CONTACT US TO CUSTOMIZE A TOUR TO MAKER’S MARK

 

What Master Distillers Say About Mixing Bourbon

Does a master distiller cringe if he or she sees someone mix soda with their spirits? Is there a wrong way to drink bourbon?

For the most part, they’re just happy you enjoy their product. Here are a few quotes from some of the best on how they suggest you drink it.

Fred Noe, Jim Beam

“Any damn way you please.” More at JimBeam.com.

“There’s no right way or wrong way to drink bourbon,” he said. “And anybody tells ya any goddamn different is full of shit.” More from Supercall.com.

Jim Rutledge, Four Roses

When I was first asked how I mix Four Roses bourbon in a cocktail, my immediate response was, “It does improve the taste of ice.” More from Imbibe.com.

Chris Morris, Woodford Reserve

“What I also love to do is, as we travel, go to a new restaurant or an old favorite — and to see your brand in a new cocktail that they’ve invented using Woodford Reserve, you’ve always got to try that drink. And you discover some great drinks. So I’m open to trying our product in a lot of different ways.” More from GearPatrol.com.

Marianne Barnes, Castle & Key

“Drink it however you like it,” says master distiller Marianne Barnes. “Bourbon purists would shame you for putting bourbon in Coke, but if that’s how you’re going to start to develop an appreciation for the flavors, maybe you start there and then move into some craft cocktails, maybe try a nice old fashioned, and move into a neat pour from there.” More from CNN.com.

Elmer T. Lee, Buffalo Trace

When asked, “what would you get if you mixed this bourbon with Coke?” Lee replied, “You’d get a damn good bourbon and Coke.” More from CharlestonCityPaper.com.

Drew Kulsveen, Willett

“Most of the time I drink it neat. I do enjoy a good cocktail every once in a while. A whiskey sour is my favorite cocktail followed by a Boulevardier. But most of the time it’s neat.” More from GearPatrol.com.

Want to ask them yourself? Talk to someone on the Mint Julep Tours team about setting up an exclusive experience at one of Kentucky’s legendary distilleries during a Custom Tour.

How to Find Rare Bourbon

We hear it often.

What bourbon can you buy on a Mint Julep Tours distillery visit that you won’t find anywhere else?

While you’re unlikely to see hard to find bourbon Pappy Van Winkle sitting on the shelf at Buffalo Trace, there are plenty of great ways to grab a special bottle to impress your friends.

Distilleries frequently offer rare bourbons for purchase in their gift shops. Sometimes, whiskeys or bourbons are only available for a limited time or solely at the distillery. So how do you find the best rare bourbon to bring home?

Ask your guide!Master Distiller Jimmy Russell at Wild Turkey

Because Mint Julep Tours guides and drivers visit Kentucky distilleries on a daily or weekly basis, they’ll know what’s new and special.

On a recent visit to Four Roses Distillery, a simple inquiry at the gift shop lead to a guest taking home a unique single barrel selection that was one of less than 60 bottles. Our guides have also spotted limited edition Wild Turkey Master’s Keep bourbon on the shelves in Wild Turkey’s shop – where Kentucky legend and master distiller Jimmy Russell is often on hand to sign the bottle before you go. Talk about a rare opportunity! Just this week, Woodford Reserve announced a blended rye which is only available at their distillery until June (if you are lucky enough to find it in a Kentucky liquor store!).

Jim Beam VanillaEven in Louisville city limits, you’ll find rare spirits unavailable anywhere else. At Copper & Kings, for example, you may find a beer barrel-aged brandy expression from their CR&FTWERK series or an experimental absinthe or gin. Over at Jim Beam’s American Stillhouse, they’re selling a new vanilla-infused expression before it hits national distribution later this year.

Want to expand your bourbon search?

Mint Julep Tours guides and drivers can also steer you toward the most helpful liquor stores in Louisville. You can also try calling a distributor in your state to see when that rare bourbon you want may hit the shelf. They may not hold if for you, but some will tell you when to show up for your best shot.

Exploring Nelson County’s abandoned T.W. Samuels Distillery

Exploring Nelson County’s abandoned T.W. Samuels Distillery

T.W. Samuels Distillery

At the end of the 19th century, Kentucky’s Nelson County was the undisputed bourbon capital of the world. No other region even came close. By 1896, roughly 26 distilleries spread throughout the county were actively distilling, aging, bottling and distributing whiskey for national consumption. But over the decades, Prohibition, consolidation of companies, changing liquor tastes and the rise of the highway would take a toll. Some 120 years later, there are just four bourbon companies headquartered in that same county today. And one of those is actually distilling in downtown Louisville, two counties away.

What’s been left behind is a number of abandoned but stunning factories that serve as dusty monuments to distilleries forged in another era. Each in a varying degree of decay and each with a long history connected to a once-beloved bourbon brand such as Old Tub and Old Charter. And, if you know just where to look, many are remarkably easy to find. Local residents will tell you that the crown jewel of these crumbling remains can be found roughly halfway between Clermont and Bardstown in the center of a tiny little community named Deatsville. Just beyond the eastern edge of the massive 14,000 acre Bernheim Forest and less than a ¼ mile north of the bustling Kentucky State Route 245 sits the T.W. Samuels Distillery and Warehouses.

T.W. Samuels WarehousesThe first thing most people notice when they approach the property is the massive collection of aging warehouses that flank the distillery. The afternoon sun reflects off the metal exterior of these old rickhouses showcasing a unique shape and design that’s been long abandoned in lieu of modern warehouses that allow for larger storage. Despite its dilapidated condition, the buildings that make up the privately-owned distillery complex are surprisingly well preserved for a location that hasn’t produced bourbon in several decades. The complex has new locks, boarded windows covering original panes and several rusted signs that clearly indicate the original function of each building. Some areas look like somebody might have just visited yesterday while others look like they haven’t been so much as dusted in years. While quiet now, these grounds were part of a long history of several once-beloved brands – all of which have been forgotten, discontinued or relegated to the back of the shelf with limited availability. However, in the dust of all the whiskey ghosts, one global brand today can trace their origin to the T.W. Samuels Distillery: Maker’s Mark.

Advertising for T.W. Samuels WhiskyThe namesake of the distillery, Taylor William Samuels established a distillery in 1844 just down the road from the buildings you can view today. The Samuels family had already been making whiskey in America for three generations, but T.W. and his son decided to make the leap from family pastime to commercial business. Success soon followed. By the 1860’s, the company warehouses held over 14,000 barrels of aging bourbon – considered to be a massive stockpile at the time. A prominent businessman, T.W. wore several hats including “High Sheriff” of Nelson County. It was during his tenure as Sheriff in 1865 that he persuaded the last remnants of confederate soldiers in the area to surrender. The father/son duo operated the distillery for over fifty years and eventually upgraded the facility by moving it down the road to the current location. Their most popular brands were the top selling Old Deatsville and T. W. Samuels bottles which carried the memorable slogan “There’s a barrel of satisfaction in every bottle.”

In 1909, the distillery and six warehouses were destroyed by fire with a reported loss that included 9,000 barrels of whiskey. Just four years later, The Star Distillery Co. from Ohio purchased a majority of the company in what would be the first of several ownership moves. During the dark days of Prohibition between 1920 and 1933, most of the buildings were razed for salvage; many of the buildings left behind today date to the “Post Repeal” period of around 1933.

T.W. Samuels Distillery and WarehousesThe Samuels name would later be intrinsically linked with another bourbon brand when T.W.’s great grandson, Bill Samuels Sr. would give up the family business in 1943 only to start his own bourbon brand ten years later in Loretto. Using a recipe that includes wheat instead of rye and bottles dipped in red wax, Maker’s Mark would soon eventually become one of the most recognized liquor brands in the country. Today, the Chief Operating Officer at Maker’s Mark Distillery is still a Samuels (Rob) and the great, great grandson of T.W. Meanwhile, The T.W. Samuels distillery plodded through the back half of the 20th century crafting low-end whiskey and even bottling spring water as recently as the early 1970’s. In more recent years, the T.W. Samuels line of bourbon has been sold under the Heaven Hill label with sporadic releases.

Sign at T.W. Samuels Distillery and Samuels SpringsToday, the distillery sits idle but nine of the warehouses have been rehabilitated and are being used by two major bourbon brands to house thousands of barrels of sleeping whiskey. Occasionally, a barrel truck off-loading fresh barrels (and branded with a familiar logo) will make an appearance. Otherwise, all is quiet in the shuttered space. And the only train traffic that the once busy rail line which faithfully served the distillery carries today is My Old Kentucky Dinner Train. However, the T.W. Samuels Distillery could one day undergo a massive transformation to restore the facility to former glory like the one currently occurring roughly 70 miles away in Woodford County at the Old Taylor Distillery. For now, the sign out front says “The Olde T.W. Samuels Distillery & Samuels Springs” but it probably could say “Watch this space.”

Written by Phil Kollin – Mint Julep Tours Driver & Guide

Mint Julep Tours can create the perfect itinerary for your bourbon adventure. While the T.W. Samuels distillery remains closed at all times to all visitors, Mint Julep Tours can arrange a drive-by past the distillery (or other abandoned Nelson County distilleries) on any custom tour. Call 502-583-1433 or visit us online today to begin planning your trip and to receive more information on custom experiences.