I was recently hired to accompany group of people from an out of town bar while they were in Kentucky to learn more about Bourbon. It was a fun couple of days and I feel they did learn quite a bit, but I feel they could have learned more if they had planned a little better. Most out of town people don’t realize how much travel time there is between destinations. Much of your day will spent riding in a vehicle if you don’t plan the day right. While it is good to have some time between destinations and having someone such as me in the vehicle can make the time better spent by answering questions, I propose here to help plan these trips better.
First of all consider transportation. If the groups is small, three or four people, then a car will be fine, but when the group gets larger than that you may want to either rent a van or contact a tour company such as Mint Julep Tours. Next you need to decide what you want to accomplish and plan your destinations accordingly. Don’t try to do too much. I would say three or four places in one day is fine. Think two before lunch and one or two after lunch. Decide if distillery tours are the main focus or are there other aspects that you wish to add.
There are three main regions that you can cover and you should stay within a region for a day to minimalize the time traveling. These regions are Louisville, Bardstown and Frankfort/Lawrenceburg. Here are places of interest in each region:
Louisville: Distillery tours
- Angel’s Envy
- Kentucky Peerless
- Evan Williams Bourbon Experience
- Copper & Kings American Brandy Distillery
- Jim Beam Urban Stillhouse
- Old Forester (to open 2018)
- Michter’s Fort Nelson (to open 2018)
Louisville: Other places of interest
- Vendome Copper & Brass (Tours Through Mint Julep Tours Only)
- Brown-Forman Cooperage (Tours Through Mint Julep Tours Only)
- Kelvin Cooperage
- Cave Hill Cemetery
- Art Eatables Bourbon Truffles
- Bourbon Barrel Foods
- Frazier History Museum
- The Filson Historical Society
Bardstown Area: Distillery Tours
- Jim Beam American Stillhouse, Clermont
- Four Roses Warehouse and Bottling, Cox’s Creek
- Barton 1792
- Heaven Hill Bourbon Heritage Center
- Willett Distillery
- Maker’s Mark
- Limestone Branch
- Several other distilleries are just opened and setting up tours or will be open for tours in the next year or so.
Bardstown Area: Other Places of Interest
Frankfort / Lawrenceburg: Distillery Tours
- Buffalo Trace
- Four Roses
- Wild Turkey
- Woodford Reserve
- Castle & Key
- Town Branch (Lexington)
- Jeptha Creed (Shelbyville)
- Several other new artisan distilleries are opening for tour in the near future.
Frankfort / Lawrenceburg: Other Places of Interest
There are plenty of places to choose from when planning a trip, and this is in no way an exhaustive list of all that Kentucky has to offer in terms of Bourbon tourism. You will probably have to contact the distillery for a tour appointment but some of the other locations need only for you to show up. Cave Hill Cemetery has an app that can be downloaded that will guide you to the graves of distillers interned there. Some places only offer tours through Mint Julep Tours.
So when designing a day keep in mind you cannot do it all. Plan on three or four locations and plan them out by looking on the map to create a route. For example if you wanted to do a Louisville trip that combined history and distilling you might want to start in the east side of town and travel west. Start with Cave Hill and Angel’s Envy before lunch and Frazier Museum and Peerless after lunch. A trip to distilleries in the Frankfort / Lawrenceburg region might be Jeptha Creed and Buffalo Trace before lunch and Castle and Key and Woodford Reserve after lunch.
Take time to plan your trip and the staff training will be more valuable. Feel free to talk to me or some of the other Bourbon writers in the area to see about their help in the training. It is always good to fill those travel times with question and answers from an expert. Don’t forget that there are also plenty of things to do after the distilleries and museums close. Visit places on the Urban Bourbon Trail while in Louisville or the Talbot Tavern in Bardstown. There are plenty of great places to get a drink of Bourbon which have knowledgeable staff that can also answer questions about brands. Make your trip fun and educational and your staff will appreciate it and pass on their experiences to your customers.
Photos Courtesy of Maggie Kimberl