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.
- Where: Whiskey Row, Louisville
- Website: evanwilliamsbourbonexperience.com
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.
Tours are by reservation only.
- Where: 500 E Main Street, Louisville
- 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 is one of the newest members on the block. This ultra-modern facility is located in Nulu (New Louisville) and opened in August 2018.
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.
- Where: 711 E. Jefferson Street, Louisville
- Website: rabbitholedistillery.com
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.
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
- Website: michters.com
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.
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 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 tour, visit their website to see all of your options.
- Where: Louisville, Kentucky
- Website: oldforester.com
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
- Website: bulleitexperience.com
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.
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
- Website: bulleit.com
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 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!
- Where: Lawrenceburg
- Website: wildturkeybourbon.com
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.
- Where: Lawrenceburg
- Website: fourrosesbourbon.com
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.
- Where: Lexington
- Website: lexingtonbrewingco.com
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.
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!
- Where: Versailles
- Website: woodfordreserve.com
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.
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 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
- Website: jimbeam.com
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.
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.
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
- Website: makersmark.com
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.
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.
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!
- Where: Bardstown, KY
- Website: luxrowdistillers.com
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.
- Where: Bardstown
- Website: heavenhilldistillery.com
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.
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.
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
- Website: bardstownbourbon.com
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.
- Where: Owensboro, KY
- Website: greenriverdistilling.com
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.
- Where: Danville, Kentucky
- Website: wildernesstraildistillery.com
Best Kentucky Bourbon Trail Distilleries: 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.
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 December 2022, 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! 🙂
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. Don’t miss our Kentucky Bourbon Trail itinerary, with recommendations on how to plan your time, whether you have just a day or two, or a full week.
If you have any questions about the best distilleries on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, or if you want to share your favorites, let us know in the comment section below.
More Information for Your Trip to Kentucky
MAMMOTH CAVE: Mammoth Cave is a national park in Kentucky and it makes a great day trip from Louisville and Nashville.
NASHVILLE: For recommendations on what to do in Nashville, check out our articles Best Things to Do in Nashville and Best Eats in Nashville. And for full details on Bluebird Cafe, read our article How to Visit Bluebird Cafe.
Read all of our articles about the USA in our United States Travel Guide.
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