Louisville Sightseeing Tour Skyline View

New Louisville sightseeing tours start Aug. 18

Whether you’re a hometown tourist or experiencing Louisville for the first time, there’s so much to learn and so many places to see in Louisville. Guests on our new Louisville sightseeing tours will explore the Derby City’s history and future. Each half-day, four-hour urban adventure travels past more than 50 local sites and tourist attractions including one featured bonus stop! 

 

Louisville Sightseeing Tour Route

Louisville Skyline Photo from Louisville Sightseeing TourFirst you’ll start in downtown Louisville at the Galt House Hotel in one of Mint Julep Tours’ comfortable vehicles. An expert tour leader will guide your experience as you ride across the bridge to Southern Indiana for the best Louisville skyline view. After a quick photo stop, you’ll drive past Falls of the Ohio State Park learning its place in Louisville’s early settlement. Back over the bridge in Kentucky, your Louisville sightseeing tour travels down Museum Row where you’ll see a massive gold David statue outside award-winning hotel 21c and the world’s largest baseball bat at the Louisville Slugger Museum and Bat Factory.

Riding through downtown Louisville, your tour leader will point out landmarks of famous Kentuckians like Muhammad Ali. Old Louisville’s stunning historic homes and beautiful St. James Court are up next with another stop to capture photos. As you go through University of Louisville’s campus, you’ll learn fun facts about its history and plans for the future. Driving past legendary race track Churchill Downs, you’ll hear about famous race horses and stories of the greatest two minutes in sports, the Kentucky Derby. 

Winding around various neighborhoods of Louisville, look out for colorful new murals and faded hand-painted signs of yesterday. Finally, through hip neighborhoods like the Highlands, NuLu and Butchertown, you’ll view how Louisville is changing and expanding before returning back to the Galt House Hotel.

Featured Stops

Every Louisville sightseeing tour includes one featured stop.

Bourbon Chocolate Truffles from Art EatablesOn Thursday and Friday tours, you’ll visit Art Eatables. This fabulous locally-owned chocolate shop specializes in using bourbon to make sweets. Guests will find out the many ways whiskey can be utilized while cooking with a tasting and sensory experience. Samples may include bourbon-chocolate ganache, bourbon-infused caramel or moonshine truffles. 

On Sunday tours, you’ll visit the Kentucky Derby Museum. You’ll have time to wander through exhibits and watch a 360-degree Kentucky Derby video. Your visit also includes a walking tour of Churchill Downs race track for even more great historic insight. 

Discover Derby City

Ready to learn about Louisville tourism? Book a sightseeing tour online or call 502-583-1433 today. Upcoming tours are available August through November on select Thursday, Friday and Sunday mornings from 9:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. Pair your Louisville sightseeing tour with a beer tour for a fantastic full-day of fun. 

Tours depart from the Galt House Hotel in downtown Louisville at 9:30 a.m. Guests should arrive 15 prior to departure time. The cost is $59 per person and includes guided transportation and one featured stop.

 

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.

The Perfect Kentucky Bourbon Trail Music Playlist for Fall

 

The Perfect Kentucky Bourbon Trail Music Playlist for Fall

Mint Julep Tours Bourbon Trail PlaylistYou’ve been planning this bourbon adventure for over seven months and the day has finally arrived. When the local TV weather gurus cheerfully share the picturesque forecast for the day, they seem to be talking directly to you. The cooler is packed and you’ve picked the right attire for a full day in Bourbon Country. You have maps, snacks, and blank Kentucky Bourbon Trail passports ready for their first stamp. All your bases are covered. But do you have the perfect Fall Bourbon Trail Playlist?

Do not make the rookie mistake of forgetting the tunes! On an average day visit to Kentucky distilleries (or horse farms, for that matter) your ride might cover over 225 miles of Kentucky highways, byways and backroads all during the course of an 11 hour stretch. In order to avoid those sleepy lulls between stops, you’ll need great music. Just like bourbon needs ice and Honest Abe needed Mary Todd, any good road trip needs a quality playlist!

But you must come prepared. Trust us, playing DJ on the fly is the most thankless and unappreciated gig in the tour business. Many Mint Julep Tours guides and drivers have heard the unrelenting chorus of boos when a wayward song flops with the audience on the bus. Allow us to make things a little bit easier for you with the 10 best songs for your Bourbon Trail road trip. Taking a bit from every beloved Kentucky genre, there should be a little something for everyone in this epic set of songs:


Take Me Back to Kentucky – Mickey Clark & The Blue Norther

A strong candidate for a modern day successor to our beloved state song “My Old Kentucky Home.” Sorry, ole Stephen Foster. This tune showcases everything there is to love about our state in 3 minutes and 12 seconds. Mickey Clark and his crew provide a little fiddle and a little get up and go while helping you out with the correct pronunciation of a few local towns you’ll be visiting like Versailles and Paris.

Listen Here!

S.O.B. – Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats

The perfect track to have on tap as you shift into drive and start motoring down I-65 South or I-64 East to your first stop. This song might have been written for the sole purpose of getting people excited to sample bourbon. S.O.B. comes complete with a chorus that will make you double check the odometer. Just remember, it is considered bad form to pull into the Jim Beam Distillery at 80 miles per hours.

Listen Here!

Satellite Radio – Steve Earle

A recent cut from the modern master of twang, Steve Earle’s lonesome song about a solo, late night drive will help those miles go by a little faster. Perfect for soaking up the scenery as you stare out your bourbon bus window.

Listen Here!

Holding Out for a Hero – Bonnie Tyler

No bourbon trail playlist is complete without at least a little bit of over-the-top music coming straight from 1984. If so inspired, feel free to re-enact the scene in which an angry Kevin Bacon plays a high-stakes game of chicken with tractors in the movie Footloose. We guarantee everyone will be shouting along at top volume by the end of the song.

Listen Here!

Rebel Never Gets Old – David Bowie

We may have tragically lost the Thin White Duke earlier this year, but it turns out that a large number of his songs are perfect for back road adventures. Take this little known mashup of “Rebel Rebel” and “Never Get Old.” You’ll be tapping your fingers immediately after hearing that recognizable, iconic guitar riff. The song is almost perfectly crafted for driving west on US-60 through Shelby and Franklin Counties. Could Bowie have taken secret trips to Kentucky to seek inspiration for his legendary catalog? Anything is possible…

Listen Here!

Kentucky Woman – Neil Diamond

Raise a glass to toast the ladies of the Bluegrass! Sure, the 75-year old Diamond is about as Kentucky as the Statue of Liberty, but the man sure does sing a heartfelt ballad about the girls that shine with their own kind of light. Besides, how many states can you name that have number one singles written about their beloved belles? That’s what we thought. (If you need to pinch hit with a more rockin’ version, we also recommend the Deep Purple rendition of this song). 

Listen Here!

Eastbound and Down – Jerry Read

Eastbound and Down sits high on the list of greatest country road trip songs ever written. Read’s banjo is as relentless as his harmonies. Conveniently, the title provides loose directions for those who have gotten lost on the way to Maker’s Mark from Louisville. As a bonus, this song served as the theme from “Smokey and The Bandit”, so you and your crew can take turns pretending to be Burt Reynolds, Sally Field and Jackie Gleason.

Listen Here!

I’m on Fire- Town Mountain

You didn’t think there would be an entire list of music designed for driving through the Bluegrass without a full-fledged Bluegrass song, did you? This North Carolina-based band takes this cover of The Boss’ legendary song to a whole new level. The tune invokes images of every knob and holler in the region. This one is perfect for those pensive, reflective moments when you’re trying to decide on your favorite bourbon sample of the day. 

Listen Here!

Wagon Wheel – Old Crow Medicine Show

Since we can’t seem to go an hour in any bar recently without hearing this great tune, we’ll bet a bucket of burgoo that at least one person on your bus knows every word to this song. And enthusiastically volunteers to sing it. Loudly. Enjoy this one while trekking down the winding road through Marion County as you seek out Bathtub Marys along the road side.

Listen Here!

All the Whiskey in Kentucky – Johnny Berry and the Outliers

The perfect song for the day’s end. Like any great country song, Berry covers love, loss and whiskey. As a bonus, this song name checks a number of bourbon brands ranging from Heaven Hill to Old Forrester to Wild Turkey. In other words, after a day in Bourbon Country, it may be the most relatable song out there!

Listen Here!

Check out all of these songs in one playlist below and be sure to head over to the
Mint Julep Tours YouTube Page for more great videos!

Did we miss a song? Let us know what’s on your Bourbon Trail Playlist on Twitter or Facebook. Allow us to plan your next Bourbon Adventure tour! Mint Julep Tours is the only dedicated tour company focused on The Kentucky Bourbon Trail®.  Based in Louisville, Kentucky we offer Custom and Public Bourbon Distillery Tours as well as unique Exclusive Experiences, Horse Farm Tours, Culinary Tours, and Louisville City Tours. As a truly one-of-a-kind tour and destination management company, Mint Julep Tours also offers transportation and event planning services with a focus on Special Events, Corporate Outings and Bachelor/Bachelorette Parties.

Specialty horse and bourbon-related gifts are available at the Mint Julep Tours retail store inside the Galt House on the third floor of the Rivue Tower at 140 North 4th Street Suite 326, Louisville, KY 40202. 502-583-1433 Ext. 106.

Written by Phil Kollin – Mint Julep Tours Driver & Guide 

Buffalo Trace unearths ‘bourbon Pompeii’ of 1873 distillery on Kentucky River

During some recent renovation at the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, KY a discovery was made of huge historical significance. What the workers unearthed were the foundations of an old bourbon distillery dating back to the 1800s.

It began earlier this year in April when they found brick pillars and remnants of walls, and then in June what they believed to be a cistern.  More digging revealed parts of the first floor and a row of brick structures.  Louisville historian Carolyn Brooks and bourbon archaeologist Nicolas Laracuente have joined in the efforts to fully grasp what the discovery entails.

Buffalo Trace Bourbon Pompeii
Photo Credit: Charles Bertram – Lexington Herald Leader

What they found were almost completely intact 11,000-gallon fermenting tanks built by the legendary Col. E.H. Taylor as a version of his O.F.C. Distillery.  According to Laracuente, this find is “very rare”, mainly due to the fact that most distilleries are destroyed by fire.  In 1873 Taylor rebuilt his first O.F.C Distillery on the same site, Laracuente believes that it was this rush to rebuild and the fact that he built on top of the existing structure as the likely reason for the preservation we’re seeing today.

There are currently plans for this area to be included in tours open to the public sometime in Spring of 2017.  As the recognized leader in bourbon adventures, Mint Julep Tours will be offering those tours when they become available. Please follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram for tour information and industry news.

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/news/state/article108222782.html#storylink=cpy

Mint Julep Tours is the only dedicated tour company focused on The Kentucky Bourbon Trail®.  Based in Louisville, Kentucky we offer Custom and Public Bourbon Distillery Tours as well as unique Exclusive Experiences, Horse Farm Tours, Culinary Tours, and Louisville City Tours. As a truly one-of-a-kind tour and destination management company, Mint Julep Tours also offers transportation and event planning services with a focus on Special Events, Corporate Outings and Bachelor/Bachelorette Parties.

Specialty horse and bourbon-related gifts are available at the Mint Julep Tours retail store inside the Galt House on the third floor of the Rivue Tower at 140 North 4th Street Suite 326, Louisville, KY 40202. 502-583-1433 Ext. 106.