I spent months piecing together our trip to the Bourbon Trail in Kentucky. These tips will help you plan your Bourbon Trail trip in minutes. I hoped to include this information in my itinerary post, but the itinerary is so long, that I thought it would be easier to follow my tips in a separate post.
Chapter 3: Tips for Traveling the Bourbon Trail
- Check the distance between each distillery: (I’ve done that for you)
- Bourbon Town Branch to Woodford Reserve: 20 miles.
- Bourbon Town Branch to Wild Turkey: 21 miles
- Woodford Reserve to Wild Turkey: 11.1 miles
- Wild Turkey to Four Roses: 8 miles
- Woodford Reserve to Four Roses: 21.2 miles
- Four Roses to Maker’s Mark: 44 miles
- Four Roses to Heaven Hill Bourbon Heritage Center: 38.5 miles
- Four Roses to Jim Beam: 58.6 miles
- Four Roses to Angel’s Envy: 57.5 miles
- Maker’s Mark to Heaven Hill Bourbon Heritage Center: 17.8 miles
- Heaven Hill Bourbon Heritage Center to Jim Beam: 15.9 miles
- Jim Beam to Angel’s Envy: 26.8 miles
- Jim Beam to Bulleit: 27.7 miles
- Angel’s Envy to Bulleit: 11.1 miles
- Angel’s Envy to Evan Williams Experience: .9 miles
- Bulleit to Evan Williams Experience: 5.7 miles
If you are traveling from East to West and scheduling is not an issue, here is how I would suggest touring the Bourbon Trail.
- Town Branch to Woodford
- Woodford to Wild Turkey
- Wild Turkey to Four Roses
- Four Roses to Maker’s Mark
- Maker’s Mark to Heaven Hill Bourbon Heritage Center
- Bourbon Heritage Center to Jim Beam
- Jim Beam to Bulleit
- Bulleit to Evan Williams Experience
- Evan Williams Experience to Angel’s Envy
- The Buffalo Trace distillery is not part of the Bourbon Trail, but it’s worth visiting. If you do, the closest distillery to Frankfort is the Woodford Reserve distillery. There are 11.1 miles between the Buffalo Trace Distillery and Woodford.
- While planning out your trip, check and see if distilleries are closed on certain days and what times you can take a tour. This made planning my trip difficult. Because of the days we were traveling the Bourbon Trail, it caused us to do some backtracking.
- Schedule tours in advance. Time slots can fill up quickly because of tour companies. Scheduling in advance holds your spot.
- Don’t forget about the craft distilleries. The big distilleries are fun to tour, but the smaller distilleries are where I wish I had spent more time. I’m hoping to go back and only visit the craft distilleries.
- There’s no reason for drunk driving. The distilleries are careful to make sure you only get a sip of bourbon. But after a day of sipping, it’s possible to get a little buzz. Tours are best done with someone else, so take turns driving. There are also bus tours you can take and Lyft or Uber can give you a ride if need be. You don’t have to finish your tasting. The distilleries are fine if you dump out the spirits or don’t finish them.
- Most tours are an hour to an hour and a half, so give yourself plenty of time to spend at the gift shops and travel time.
- After so many tours, they blend together. It’s hard sometimes to remember who said what and how a distillery does bourbon different. If you’re in a time pinch, it’s okay to miss a few distilleries and show up to the gift shop and get your stamp. Some might consider it cheating, but I wouldn’t have minded skipping one or two in favor of hanging out at a local bar or restaurant.
- The distilleries do not offer discounts on their bottles because they don’t want to compete with the local liquor stores, so don’t go believing you’ll find a cheaper bottle of your favorite bourbon. Some distilleries sell bottles you can’t find in stores.
- Look for restaurants and hotels that offer bourbon tastings. We found a great one on the My Old Kentucky Dinner Train I recommend.
- Some distilleries offer a wide variety of tastings, but you can only have 3 or 4. If you are with a friend, choose something different and share. That way you can taste a wider variety. Sharing is caring, right?Those are my 10 tips. If you have traveled the Bourbon Trail, please list your tips in the comments.
Here’s where we stayed that I can recommend.
Frankfort: Capital Plaza Hotel
· A mid-level prices hotel at a great location and within a 5-minute drive of the Buffalo Trace Distillery. There is a restaurant and bar inside the hotel that offers tasty sandwiches and a free breakfast. The rooms are clean and comfortable and there’s an indoor pool.
Versailles: The Kentucky Castle
· My favorite place we stayed on our Bourbon Trail adventure. The Castle is beautiful and you could spend a whole day walking the grounds or lounging by the outdoor pool. An upscale restaurant is also on the premise. The price is on the higher end of local places to stay, but the rooms, beds, and environment cannot be beaten. (Read my review of the Kentucky Castle here.)
Bardstown: General Nelson Inn
· More of a motel than an Inn. The price is low, but the rooms are clean and comfortable and there’s an outdoor pool. The Inn also offers a free breakfast.
Louisville: Galt House Hotel
· A location in walking distance to a lot of restaurants, attractions, and the Evan Williams Experience. The price is up there and similar to a lot of high-end hotels in the area. Our rooms were nice and the beds were comfortable. The parking garage was expensive though, and I later found a city parking lot that was close by that would have been a lot cheaper.
Locations and address:
- Angel’s Envy: 500 E. Main St., Louisville, KY 40202
- Bourbon Heritage Center – Heaven Hill: 1311 Gilkey Run Rd. , Bardstown, KY 40004
- Bourbon Town Branch: 401 Cross St., Lexington, KY 40508
- Bulleit: 3860 Fitzgerald Rd., Louisville, KY 40216
- Evan Williams Experience: 528 West Main St., Louisville, KY 40202
- Four Roses: 1224 Bonds Mill Rd., Lawrenceburg, KY 40342
- Jim Beam: 526 Happy Hollow Rd., Clermont, KY 40110
- Maker’s Mark: 3350 Burks Spring Rd., Loretto, KY 40037
- Wild Turkey: 1417 Versailles Rd., Lawrenceburg, KY 40342
- Woodford Reserve: 7855 McCracken Pike, Versailles, KY 40383
- Barrel House Distilling Co.: 1200 Manchester St., Lexington, KY 40504
- Bluegrass Distillers: 501 W. Sixth St., Lexington, KY 40508
- Boone County Distilling Co.: 10601 Toebben Dr., Boone County, KY 41051
- Corsair Distillery: 400 East Main St., #110, Bowling Green, KY 42101
- Hartfield & Co.: 108 East 4th St., Paris, KY 40361
- Kentucky Artisan Distillery: 6230 Old LaGrange Rd., Crestwood, KY 40014
- Kentucky Peerless Distilling Company: 120 North 10th St., Louisville, KY
- Limestone Branch Distillery: 1280 Veterans Memorial Highway, Lebanon, KY 40033
- MB Roland Distillery: 137 Barkers Mill Rd., Pembroke, KY 42266
- New Riff Distilling: 24 Distillery Way, Newport, KY 41073
- The Old Pogue Distillery: 716 West Second St., Maysville, KY 41056
- Wilderness Trail Distillery: 4095 Lebanon Rd., Danville, KY 40422
- Willett Distillery: 1869 Loretto Rd., Bardstown, KY 40004
There are many other distilleries not part of the Bourbon Trail worth visiting, but too numerous to include here.