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“Sips, Blips and Trips”

Kentucky Bourbon Trail
Ranked #994 of 975 things to do in Kentucky
Certificate of Excellence
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Owner description: Where the Spirit Leads YouFor more than 200 years, Kentucky's legendary distilleries have crafted the world's finest Bourbons, using secret recipes and a time-honored process passed down from generation to generation.Now you can explore the rich tradition and proud history of "America's Official Native Spirit" on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail(R) tour, featuring 9 signature distilleries nestled among the most beautiful scenery the Bluegrass has to offer.Discover the art and science of the Master Distiller...Savor the distinct, mellow flavor...And see how Kentucky's perfect natural mix of weather and pure limestone water produces the classic taste and deep amber color.World-renowned Bourbon.Winding country roads.Inviting historic towns.Rolling green hills.And Bluegrass hospitality at its best.The Kentucky Bourbon Trail(R) tour - where the spirit leads you.
Sharpsburg, Maryland
Level Contributor
60 reviews
15 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 48 helpful votes
“Sips, Blips and Trips”
Reviewed November 15, 2012

We had been talking about going on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail for a while, so we took the occasion of my birthday as an excuse to finally do it. We and another couple drove down on a Friday night of a 3-day weekend. On Saturday, we visited Jim Beam, Makers Mark and Heaven Hill distilleries. The weather was extremely cooperative and we had a bright, sunny, warm day to see the beautiful Kentucky countryside. Jim Beam was nice. We did the self-guided tour with the tasting at the end. We discovered we like the flavored bourbons from Jim Beam. A little Honey Tea Bourbon over ice is very pleasant indeed. Maker's Mark was probably our favorite tour and our favorite bourbon. They were so open and pleasant. We got to see the actual production line, including the 100 year old cypress vats full of bubbling mash -- a heady, but not unpleasant smell to be sure. Then we went to Heaven Hill. If it weren't on the passport, I would say skip it. They were rude, overbooked. We didn't get a tour or a tasting. As a result, we didn't buy anything other than a shot glass. The next day, we had to see 4 distilleries. We knew some of them would have to be a fly-by passport stamp to make them all. As it turned out, we only had to really do that to one of them. The old passport only had 6 distilleries, but the new one has 7. The newest arrival is Town Branch. We found the nicest people and most interesting buildings yet. They were futuristic and old world at the same time. At the tasting, look for their Bluegrass Sundown - a bourbon and coffee libation with heavy cream on top. Yum! We then went to the beautiful Woodford Reserve distillery, Four Roses and finally, Wild Turkey. At Four Roses, we were there right before they closed, so we only got our stamp. At Wild Turkey, we were told by the very nice young men at the counter that while we had missed the last tour, we could join the tasting.

The highlights of the tour:
1. The very pleasant people - especially at Maker's Mark, Town Branch and Wild Turkey.
2. The beautiful scenery.
3. The bourbon!

The downsides:
1. The Bourbon Trail website needs to be updated. It doesn't take long and Town Branch has been open for 6 weeks. Plus a some of the information is wrong.
2. The dour lady at the door at Heaven Hill.

All in all, we had a great time and we would do it again.

Visited November 2012
7 Thank Chuck P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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345 reviews from our community

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English first
Level Contributor
140 reviews
63 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 65 helpful votes
“A great way to spend a few days of your life”
Reviewed November 8, 2012

Scenic travels and nice people will welcome you as you venture from one distillery to the next. The tours do tend to get repeatative after a while but each distillery offers a piece of history unique to them. Woodford Reserve and Maker's Mark were our personally favorites.

Visited November 2012
1 Thank Mary Ellen M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Indianapolis, Indiana
Level Contributor
35 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“True Kentucky experience and hospitality”
Reviewed October 21, 2012 via mobile

The Bourbon Trail shows all of the things that make Kentucky special: Friendly people, pride in the commonwealth and opening the door on one of the state's most important industries. The trail hasn't been around too long, but it is already established as a must-do for bourbon enthusiasts -- and I'd think it would be interesting even if you don't care much.

The best tours, after seeing most of them, were at Maker's Mark (a must), Four Roses, Jim Beam and Woodford Reserve. Wild Turkey was OK -- didn't tour there due to some other needs (may or may not have included Keeneland's post time...). Of these, my favorites were Maker's and Four Roses. Beam has put a lot of money into their grounds and we didn't do their tour -- so hard to judge fully. They do have a cool tasting room that is free, so definitely do that.

There are other distilleries and tours that aren't on the tour officially ... haven't checked those out yet.

I will say this -- all of the tours will tell you what it takes to be a bourbon, what the process is and most show you the process. A few tips: Call ahead to see if there's a best time to visit -- for example, we visited Maker's on Saturday and the bottling line only runs Monday-Friday ... so we didn't get to see that in operation. Guess that means we'll have to go back. Also, most distilleries will go dark at some point during the year for maintenence/cleaning -- good idea to make sure you know what kind of tour will be available.

We did talk to a group that tried to do all of the tours in one day ... it seemed like it was way too much, especially if you want to do all of tours. We did the tours around Frankford/Lexington, went to Keeneland and then drove to Bardstown and stayed there. Then did the Bardstown-Makers tours and it was great.

3 Thank tyhalpin
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cincinnati, Ohio
Level Contributor
20 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
“Good experience”
Reviewed October 20, 2012 via mobile

The bourbon trail is an awesome experience. I have lived in the Cincinnati region for about three years and I've been to the Bourbon Trail at least once a year. The only drawback is that every distillery has a different characteristic and provide for a different experience. My favorite distillery is Woodford Reserve. It is nestled in the middle of lush sprawling horse farms.
The tour here is a paid tour. The premises are beautiful and very well maintained, much better than most of the other distilleries on the trail. The tour is also one of the most detailed tours in the entire Bourbon Trail. All in all, a trip to Woodford Reserve is well worth it.

My next favorite distillery is Makers Mark. It also has a very well maintained campus. Truly a sight for sore eyes. I like their gift shops the most as well. One distillery I would completely away from is Wild Turkey. It is Unimaginative and lack luster. I don't think there were any trees on the premises. It reminded me of a mirthless army barrack.

A lot of people talked about Buffalo Trace distillery. I have been there but there is nothing great about the place. It's not bad, but its not something to go out of your way over. I think the other distilleries do a better job of presenting their history and heritage to you.

But as far as show stealers are concerned, you NEED to visit the ruins of the Old Taylor Distillery. It is near Woodford. It is simply breathtaking. Eerie and enigmatic , the magnificent architecture tells a story of better days that have gone by, and the dilapidated buildings leave you with a haunting feeling. A must see before they tear the place down!

4 Thank Kaushik G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
122 reviews
23 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 68 helpful votes
“Fun tour even for non-Bourbon drinkers!”
Reviewed October 11, 2012

I can highly recommend taking the tours of the distilleries on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Every distillery was educational and fun, as well as historical. I am not a bourbon drinker, but I did try a sip or two at each distillery, and even found a couple that I enjoyed! Some tours are basic, some offer a more enhanced tour (which I would also recommend, if you have the time/interest).
The only negative is that the trail has recently added a seventh distillery in Lexington called Bourbon Town Branch. This was a waste of time and money - it is a brand new facility, and wasn't even operational when we went in early Oct.
My advice is to get one of the "passports" (which you get stamped at each distillery, and then mail in later for a free t-shirt) that has only the six historical distilleries in it, and excludes Bourbon Town Branch.
As others have mentioned, I would also highly recommend adding Buffalo Trace, in Frankfort, to the distilleries you visit. It's not on the "trail" (I understand it used to be, a couple of years ago, and then decided to withdraw from the program), but it was one of the best tours we did - well worth the trip.
Either way, plan on a very short trip to Lexington for Town Branch. Save your time and money for the professional distillery tours.

Visited October 2012
3 Thank nfall2010
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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