Julie United States 28 Comments

The Kentucky Bourbon Trail is hot right now! Bourbon is booming and during the past several years bourbon sales have been increasing exponentially. With the increasing popularity of bourbon, tourism is up in Kentucky. What better way to learn about and sample bourbon than on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail?

The Kentucky Bourbon Trail is a collection of eighteen whiskey distilleries. All of these distilleries offer tours and tastings. On the tours, learn how bourbon is produced, hear about the history of the distillery, and end with a bourbon tasting. It’s a fun, interactive glimpse into this important piece of Kentucky history and it is a great way to spend a weekend.

See them all or pick your favorites. Take the tour or just do a tasting. There is no right way to see the Kentucky Bourbon Trail as long as you have a good time.

Here is what you can expect at the distilleries.

Distilleries on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail

Evan Williams Bourbon Experience

The Evan Williams Bourbon Experience is located in Louisville, right on historic “Whiskey Row.” Its location makes it the perfect place to start your tour if you are staying in Louisville.

Evan Williams offers the most technically advanced tour, complete with videos, immersive exhibits, and a walk through “old Louisville.” Travel back in time to 1783, to the very early days of Louisville, where you will learn about the early history of bourbon and this area of Kentucky. A visit to Evan Williams is educational and entertaining. At the end, sample three different bourbon whiskeys in one of their cozy tasting rooms.

Angel’s Envy

This distillery features bourbon finished in port wine barrels and rye whiskey finished in rum barrels.

Angel’s Envy offers two tours. Their signature tour is a one-hour tour of the distillery. The Inside the Barrel Tour focuses on the finishes of their bourbon and whiskey. This tour not only includes an in-depth tasting of their products but you also get to taste unfinished Rye whiskey directly out of the barrel.

Angels Envy Tour

Angels Envy Kentucky Bourbon Trail

Tours are by reservation only. Angel’s Envy is closed on Tuesday.

  • Where: 500 E Main Street, Louisville
  • Tour Price: $20
  • Website: angelsenvy.com

For suggestions on how to plan your time, don’t miss our Kentucky Bourbon Trail itinerary planner. Get suggestions on how to plan your trip, whether you just have a few days, a long weekend, or an entire week.

Rabbit Hole

Rabbit Hole is one of the newest members on the block. This ultra-modern facility is located in Nulu (New Louisville) and opened in August 2018.

Rabbit Hole Kentucky Bourbon Trail

Tasting Sour Mash

Tasting the sour mash while on a tour of Rabbit Hole.

We love the story of how this distillery got started. Two clinical psychologists, a husband and wife team, developed a love for bourbon. They quit their jobs, mortgaged their house, and “went down the Rabbit Hole,” opening this distillery.

Tours are one hour long and end with a tasting. 

Michter’s Fort Nelson Distillery

As you tour each distillery, it is the small differences that set each one apart. Michter’s emphasizes their use of high-quality ingredients, low entry proof (they are one of the lowest, at 103 proof going into the barrel), and chill filtering their whiskeys.

Michters Kentucky Bourbon Trail

Michters Tour

Michter’s offers several different tours. We took the Discovery Tour, which is the basic, 1 hour tour of the facility. The tour ends with a tasting in the tasting room and the chance to mix a cocktail at the bar (really, you just mix bourbon, pre-poured fruit juice, and tonic water).

The Founders Tour and Legacy Tour takes the experience one step farther with more information on the distilling process and tastings of special selections of whiskeys.

The tours end at the bar on the second floor, a great place to get a drink and enjoy the view down Main Street in Louisville.

  • Where:  801 West Main Street, Louisville
  • Tour Price:  $20
  • Website:  michters.com

Old Forester

Old Forester is the only bourbon to be continually sold by the same company before, during, and after prohibition. Their first bottled bourbon dates back to 1870. 

This is a must-see tour. The tour is very well done and you get to see a few things that many tours do not include. The tour includes a walk through their cooperage, where you get to see how the barrels are made (this is the only tour on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail where we saw this). You also get to see the plates that go into the still and you get to see the bottling line in action.

Old Forester Distillery

Old Forester Kentucky Bourbon Trail

Old Forester Rackhouse

Old Forester Bourbon

Pro Travel Tip:  Take a tour Tuesday through Saturday before 5pm when the cooperage and bottling line are in operation. On Sundays and Mondays, you will see the equipment but you don’t get to see the actual process.

Old Forester offers several different tours. Their basic tour is the Old Forester Distillery Tour, a one-hour tour that ends with a tasting. They also have specialty tours that are not offered on a regular basis, but if you want a more in-depth tour of Old Forester, or if you like the idea of taking a VIP or Presidential tour, visit their website to see all of your options.

Stitzel-Weller Distillery

Also known as Bulleit Bourbon, this distillery is located in Louisville. Bulleit has been in operation since 1935 but opened to the public in 2014. They specialize in high-rye bourbon whiskey. The facility has a historic look and feel to it. 

This distillery offers tours and tastings. Tastings last 30 minutes and it’s a great way to sample Bulleit bourbon if you don’t feel like taking a tour. They also offer mixology classes (currently once a month), a one-hour standard tour, as well as a 1.5 hour behind-the-scenes tour of the distillery.

  • Where: 3860 Fitzgerald Road, 5 miles from downtown Louisville
  • Tour Price: $20
  • Website: bulleitexperience.com

Bulleit Frontier Whiskey


Bulleit Distilling Company

Built in 2017 and open to visitors in 2019, this brand new distillery features modern, state-of-the-art technology. Like Stitzel Weller, this Bulleit facility offers a handful of different tours and tastings.

Bulleit Kentucky Bourbon Trail

We took the 30 minute Unlocking the Senses tasting, where we sampled four Bulleit whiskeys. You can also take a tour of the facility or a cocktail class.

  • Where:  Shelbyville, KY
  • Tour Price:  $20
  • Website:  bulleit.com

Wild Turkey

Wild Turkey produces one of the most popular bourbons in the US and one of the best selling bourbons in the world. Tour the distillery, see the hundreds of barrels inside of the rickhouses, and maybe meet legendary Jimmy Russell while you are here. Jimmy, the master distiller at Wild Turkey, is the world’s longest tenured active master distiller. We met him while on tour, a friendly, down-to-earth man enthusiastic about producing great bourbon whiskey.

Wild Turkey Distillery Tour

Wild Turkey got its name during a hunting trip in 1940. The executive of Wild Turkey shared his bourbon with his friends…while hunting wild turkey.

Definitely do this tasting! For those who are not bourbon drinkers, a sample of American Honey may be something to tickle your tastebuds. We hear it’s great on pancakes so we brought some home to test out that theory!

Wild Turkey Bourbon

Four Roses

Four Roses distillery was built in 1910 and features Spanish Mission-Style architecture, a rarity in Kentucky. Take a tour here to learn the very interesting history of Four Roses. During the mid-20th century, Four Roses was the top selling bourbon in Japan but it could not be purchased in the US, even though it was being produced in Kentucky.

While we were here, there was a lot of onsite construction so Four Roses offered shortened tours. We opted to pay for a tasting rather than take the tour. While you are doing your tasting, ask to see the poster of Four Roses in Times Square. You probably never noticed that Four Roses was captured in this very historic photo.

Four Roses offers tastings and a one-hour of their facility.

Four Roses

Four Roses Distillery

Town Branch

This bourbon distillery also produces beer. They offer one hour and fifteen minute tours where you can learn about their bourbon and beer production, ending with a tasting. The only way to do a tasting is to take a tour. 

Town Branch offers a wide range of tours as well as a mixology class. Visit their website for full details.

Town Branch

Woodford Reserve

Woodford is the oldest and smallest distillery on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. To get here, it is a gorgeous drive through horse farms and rolling, bluegrass Kentucky hills. This is a distillery to put high on your list.

Woodford Reserve has a historic, upscale feel to it. It is a National Historic Landmark property and they offer several different tours depending on your level of interest. You can elect to skip the tour and just do a tasting instead. We passed on the tour at Woodford and I regret it. However, the tasting was awesome.

Tim and I had a private tasting out on the deck overlooking the historic buildings of Woodford Reserve. We sampled two of Woodford’s bourbons and both were excellent, some of our favorites on the whole Bourbon Trail. The setting and the delicious bourbon made this one of our favorite tasting experiences.

Woodford Reserve Bourbon Tasting

Tours at Woodford are one of the most expensive on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, starting at $16. In fact, we spent $8 just to do a tasting, and that included only two bourbons. But it was worth it…you have to try the Woodford Reserve Double Oaked bourbon. Yum!

Woodford Reserve Tour

Jim Beam American Stillhouse

Come as a friend, leave as family…this is the motto behind Kentucky’s largest bourbon producer. The Beam family is the most influential family in the history of bourbon making. They have been in the business for over 200 years and helped establish several other bourbon distilleries.

Jim Beam Stillhouse

The Jim Beam American Stillhouse is the location of the Jim Beam Distillery. On their 90 minute tour, one of the longest tour on the Bourbon Trail, learn the entire process of the production of bourbon, ending with a tasting. This is a very popular tour so their website states that a reservation is required at least two days before your visit.

You can also purchase a drink at the Bourbon Bar and skip the tour. This is exactly what we did.

Many people rave about the Jim Beam tour and tasting. During the tasting, you get to choose from a variety of whiskeys from self-dispensing machines. Like Wild Turkey, Jim Beam offers flavored whiskey  which may appeal to some visitors.

Jim Beam tasting

Tim at Jim Beam

Jim Beam also has an Urban Stillhouse located in downtown Louisville, located on 4th Street Live. A bourbon educational experience and tasting is offered here. You can get your Jim Beam stamp in your Kentucky Bourbon Passport at either location.

  • Where: Clermont
  • Tour Price: Distillery Tour $14
  • Website: jimbeam.com

Maker’s Mark

For an amazing experience, make sure you visit Maker’s Mark. This was our favorite tour on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail for several reasons. The tour gives a fabulous insight to the making of bourbon, the property is gorgeous, the history behind Maker’s Mark is intriguing, and the bourbon is delicious.

If you visit one distillery on the Bourbon Trail, make sure it is Maker’s Mark.

Makers Mark Bourbon Trail

To get to Maker’s Mark you will drive through rural Kentucky. One lane roads snake through the hills and farms, and Tim and I were wondering if we were going to the right place! Seemingly in the middle of nowhere is the beautiful property of Maker’s Mark.

We took the first tour at 9 am on a chilly Saturday morning. For one hour we walked through the property, learned the history behind the making of Maker’s Mark, tasted the sour mash right out of the distilling vats, and ended with a tasting. The entire tour was fascinating, entertaining, and dare I say inspiring?

In the gift shop, you can personally hand-dip a Maker’s Mark bottle of bourbon in red wax. This makes the perfect souvenir to bring home.

Makers Mark wax dipping

Maker’s Mark offers a Distillery tour (which we took) and several specialty tours tours, such as a behind-the-scenes look at what goes on at the distillery and one that offers a class on mixing drinks with bourbon.

  • Where: Loretto
  • Tour Price: $25 for the Distillery Tour
  • Website: makersmark.com

Makers Mark copper barrels

Makers Mark Tour

Makers Mark tasting

Makers Mark Christmas

Lux Row Distillers

This is one of the newest distilleries on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Lux Row produces Rebel Yell, Ezra Brooks, Blood Oath, and David Nicholson whiskeys. 

This was another one of our top experiences on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.

We took the one-hour tour and the visit to the rickhouse was one of the highlights. The smell inside of a rickhouse is amazing…bourbon, vanilla, with hints of spice…it’s delicious. At Lux Row, the first few rows of the rickhouse are removed, forming a small “lobby.” Standing here, you get to appreciate just how many barrels sit on the shelves of a rickhouse.

Lux Row Rickhouse

The highlight of any tour is the tasting. That’s the whole reason you are here, right? Rarely did we taste three or four whiskeys at one distillery and like all of them. Lux Row was different. We loved everything we tasted, and we are not the only ones with this opinion. Not only did other visitors to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail rave about the whiskeys at Lux Row, but also the guides that we spoke to at other distilleries.

Lux Row Bourbon Tasting

Lux Row Kentucky Bourbon Trail

In the lobby of Lux Row, there is a small bar where you can sample the higher end whiskeys or have a cocktail. I recommend tasting the Blood Oath and the Ezra Brooks. Yum!

Heaven Hill

The Old Heaven Hill Springs Distillery opened in 1934, just after the end of Prohibition. Since that time, the company has expanded to overseeing a range of bourbon labels, such as Elijah Craig and Evan Williams. In 1996, the distillery in Bardstown burned to the ground and has not been rebuilt. The rick houses at the Bardstown location are used to store the Evan Williams bourbon that is distilled in Louisville.

There are two tours that include tastings, the Mashbill Tour and the Connoisseur Experience. Since there is no longer an active distillery, we opted not to take the tour. Instead, we explored the onsite Heritage Center, which is a great place to get an overview on the history of bourbon in Kentucky.

Heaven Hill

Heaven Hill Bourbon

Bardstown Bourbon

This distillery is the first “Napa Valley style destination” that combines bourbon tasting with culinary expertise. You can take a tour or participate in their cocktail class at this very modern distillery.

We took the Shaken & Stirred cocktail class and this was our favorite experience on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. For one hour, at the tasting bar located inside of the rickhouse, we learned how to mix two cocktails, the Kentucky Mule and the Sazerac. While we got a hands-on lesson on how to mix our drinks, we learned interesting facts about bourbon and other spirits. If you are looking for a different way to experience the Kentucky Bourbon Trail without taking tour after tour after tour, this cocktail class is a nice thing to throw into the mix.

Kentucky Bourbon Trail Cocktail Class

Bardstown Bourbon also offers a great one hour tour of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. This tour starts with a whiskey tasting (most tours end with the tasting) and ends in the rickhouse with tasting of bourbon pulled right out of the barrel. That’s a fun, unique way to end a tour!

Bardstown Bourbon is very innovative and creative with their tours and events. Make sure you check their website for seasonal events and unique tours that you might not find at other distilleries.

Bardstown Bourbon

Finally, Bardstown Bourbon also has a full restaurant. This is a great place to go for lunch before or after your tour or cocktail class.

  • Where:  Bardstown, KY
  • Tour Price:  $21.20 for a tour, $58.30 for the Shaken & Stirred cocktail class
  • Website:  bardstownbourbon.com

Green River

Formerly known as O. Z. Tyler, this distillery is located in Owensboro, Kentucky, almost two hours from Louisville. They aren’t even in the same time zone as the other distilleries (Green River is in the Central Time Zone). However, their distilling process is very innovative and a visit here is worthwhile if you want to learn about a unique way to distill bourbon.

The bourbon and whiskey at Green River spend less time in the barrel than at most distilleries on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. However, the spirits are further refined with their patented TerrePURE process. This is an ultrasonic process that removes impurities and improves the quality and taste, speeding up the refining process without spending years in the barrel. 

OZ Tyler Barrels

OZ Tyler Kentucky Bourbon Trail

Wilderness Trail Distillery

Wilderness Trail Distillery is the newest addition to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail and it has been added since our visit in November 2019. We have not been to this distillery yet, but we already happen to be big fans of their bourbon. 

See Them on a Map

Kentucky Bourbon Trail Passport

At your first distillery, pick up a Kentucky Bourbon Trail Passport. The distilleries are listed inside, with space for your own notes and a stamp from each distillery. If you collect stamps from each distillery you can redeem your passport for a Kentucky Bourbon Trail tasting glass. 

Kentucky Bourbon Trail passport

About Our Experience

We have toured the Kentucky Bourbon Trail twice.

In November 2016, Tim and I toured the Kentucky Bourbon Trail when there were only nine distilleries on the trail. Over the following three years, eight more distilleries were added to the trail.

In late November 2019, Tim and I spent a long weekend in Kentucky, touring the new additions to the trail.

As of February 2021, we have visited all of the distilleries with the exception of Wilderness Trail. With the way things are going, there’s a good chance that more distilleries will be added in the future, so I’m sure you’ll see us back here again.

It’s a lot of fun keeping this article updated! 🙂

Our Recommendations

It’s impossible to fit eighteen tours into one weekend, and honestly, they do get repetitive, as most tours teach you how bourbon is produced. By the time you get to the 9th distillery, you may begin to think you could be a master distiller!!

In order to take a tour at all eighteen distilleries, you will need at least six days. For most people, a mix of tours and tastings is the ideal visit, which can be done in five very busy days if planned appropriately.

With limited time, especially if you have no desire to take a tour at all seventeen distilleries, here are our must-see distilleries. 

  • Best All Around Experience: Maker’s Mark
  • Best Tasting Experience: Tie between Woodford Reserve and Lux Row
  • Best Experience (That’s Not a Tour): Bardstown Bourbon Shaken & Stirred Class
  • Best Chance to meet the Master Distiller: Wild Turkey
  • Best Tour for Families: Evan Williams Bourbon Experience
  • Best Tour about the Distilling Process from Start to Finish:  Old Forester
  • Best Bourbon Whiskey: Come tour the Kentucky Bourbon Trail and find out for yourself!

We also loved Rabbit Hole for their story and ultra-modern facility, and Angels Envy, with their bourbon and rye whiskeys finished in port wine and rum barrels.

For even more information, read our guide about the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, filled with information about how to have the best experience, and ideas for more activities in the local area.

Complete your trip to Louisville, Kentucky with these 2 articles:

12 Best Things to do in Louisville, Kentucky

Louisville Restaurants: The Best Eats in Town

Are you planning a trip to the United States? Read all of our articles about the USA in our United States Travel Guide.

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Kentucky Bourbon Trail best distilleries
Best Distilleries to Visit Kentucky Bourbon Trail

All rights reserved © Earth Trekkers. Republishing this article and/or any of its contents (text, photography, etc.), in whole or in part, is strictly prohibited.

Comments 28

  1. Thank you. I’ve been to about half of these with my son and I can’t fault any of your recommendations. There are some you should add, Castle and Key (great architecture), Buffalo Trace (great tour), and Jeptha Creed (small scale, unique products) are all worth a visit. Woodford Reserve is my favorite because of the historical buildings (full disclosure, I live in Versailles but have no connection with the industry), and as you note, Maker’s Mark is also great tour. The scale of some of the bigger places is simply amazing, Jim Beam and Wild Turkey come to mind for me.

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      Thanks for the recommendations! Several of the ones that you list are not on the “official” Kentucky Bourbon Trail, so I can’t include them in this post. However, we will keep them in mind for a future visit and I am sure our readers appreciate the recommendations. Cheers, Julie

  2. Thanks–This is an excellent review for newbies. Are the distillerIes still doing tours and tastings with COVID? Do you have any lodging or vrbo recommendations to reduce driving?

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      Hello Deb. You would have to check with each individual distillery to see what their policy is. At the end of our Bourbon Trail Itinerary I list recommended hotels for each town. This will also help you put together a multi-day itinerary. Have fun!! Cheers, Julie

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      We were there the weekend before Thanksgiving. And yes, everything was open and it was a great time to go. In fact, we are planning a return visit the same weekend this year. Cheers, Julie

      1. My wife and I are going that same weekend (before Thanksgiving) and we are starting with Old Pogue and coming right back to Louisville. My wife has planned it out from there.

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      With it being the end of summer, there might not be much distillation going on at the distilleries. That usually gets started once the weather gets cooler, in autumn. However, summer crowds will be low, so it hopefully shouldn’t be too busy. Cheers, Julie

  3. I am planning a trip for my boyfriend and wanted to know are the distilleries within walking distance of each other? Also which hotels are close to the distillery or would you have an actual address of one that is in the center of them all so that I could look up hotels. We would just be going for 2 days so I’d like to make the most of the trip.

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      Hello Wanda. Unfortunately, the distilleries are not within walking distance of one another. Most of them are spread out over Kentucky, mainly between Louisville and Lexington. There are several distilleries in Louisville, but even then, you will need a car to get to some of them (for example, Bulleit is located a bit outside of the city center). We stayed in Louisville but Lexington also makes a nice home base. If you haven’t seen it yet, check out our guide to the bourbon trail because it has a lot of practical info like itineraries and where to stay. Cheers, Julie

  4. Hi- I am planning a visit to Kentucky Bourbon Trail for my husband’s birthday in Aug 2019. Is this is a good time for this trip, as i know many distilleries are not distilling during that time. Is 3 days enough time for this trip? Can we also cover Mammoth Cave?
    I love your blog, photography and life of your wanderlust Family.

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      Hello Deb. Yes, 3 days is enough for the Bourbon Trail (that is how much time we spent). If you want to add on Mammoth Cave, you probably need a chunk of 6 hours, to allow for travel time to and from Louisville plus time for the tour. So, you could tour Mammoth Cave in the morning and then do a little bit of the bourbon trail, or Louisville, that afternoon. Just check distillery hours. In August, it will be warm, and you’re right, I don’t think the distilleries will be running, but it is still worth it. It’s a really fun way to spend 3 days, especially if your husband likes bourbon. Since it is summer, it is worth booking your tours in advance, especially Makers Mark, just to save you time waiting for tours and to avoid missing out if a tour becomes sold out for the day. Cheers, Julie

  5. Julie,
    We are going in May and want to stay in Louisville. Which hotel would you recommend? Our ultimate goal is to trailer our motorcycles from Virginia and use them as our primary mode of transportation to the distilleries. What do you think? Parking rates seem a bit high. Thanks Your blog is great

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      I’m glad you like our blog. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express Suites in downtown Louisville. They offer parking and you could contact them to get their rates. This hotel has a great location within walking distance of the main sites in Louisville as well as some great restaurants. We use Booking.com to find and book our hotels, so you could also search Booking (the link I gave you is an affiliate link to Booking.com). Getting around to the distilleries by motorcycle sounds fine. Have fun! Cheers, Julie

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      Yes, we love Buffalo Trace, especially their Bourbon Cream. But since it’s not one of the distilleries on the “official” Kentucky Bourbon Trail we did not include it in this post. But it gets a big mention in our KBT Guide. Cheers, Julie

  6. Great info! I’m heading there soon and couldn’t seem to find anything with all the things I needed in one place. Then I found this post! Thank you for taking the legwork out of this journey. Cheers! -Mike P.S. – Nice Photos

  7. Hi Julie, When I read the throwback post on this tour, I shared it with Dave and we decided to make the trip. We drove, starting in Lexington and ending in Louisville. It was a lot of fun, educational and beautiful country. We got stamps from all ten distilleries in the passport and took the actual tour in most. Even though it may seem redundant, we learned something new with each one. We liked Town Branch, it was the first one we visited and our guide was great. With 4 tasting chips each, you could split them up between the beer and the bourbon. We also checked out a couple not listed in the passport and would highly recommend touring Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort. It is the oldest, continuously running distillery in the state. And their tour and tasting is complimentary.

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      It’s funny how two people can go at different times and have a very different experience. We did not get the same warm, welcoming vibe at Town Branch as we did at the other distilleries…I guess it’s just who you get as a guide on a given day. I am glad you had a better experience there. Tim and I loved Buffalo Trace…it was also one of our favorites (since it was not an official Kentucky Bourbon Trail distillery, we wrote about in our Bourbon Trail guide rather than in this post). Did you try the Bourbon Cream?! Delicious! Thanks for writing in! Cheers, Julie

  8. Do you have any lodging recommendations based on your visit? Especially for the area around Wild Turkey and Woodford Reserve. Thank you!

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      Louisville was our home base and we stayed here the whole time. You could look into staying in Lexington since that is closer to those 2 distilleries. Cheers, Julie

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      We got this map (along with the passports) at the first distillery we visited. They are available at all of the distilleries on the Bourbon Trail. – Julie

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