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“nice tour, but it used to be free”

Kentucky Bourbon Trail
Ranked #66 of 1,019 things to do in Kentucky
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
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.
Reviewed March 13, 2014

I have been to Maker's Mark twice before this time, and my first surprise when we arrived is that the tour is no longer free. It now costs $9 per person. When I asked the sales clerk about this, she said that they started charging admission about 2 1/2 years ago, and she explained that the tour is now "enhanced." Apparently, the "enhancements" are the taste test near the end of the tour and the new, larger gift shop.

The tour gives the visitor a close, hands on look at a working distillery. Our tour guide, Courtney, was knowledgeable about the history of the distillery and about how Maker's Mark is made. The bottling line is usually at the end of the tour, but she explained that they sometimes shut it down for the day early, so she was taking us to the bottling line first. This was thoughtful and considerate of the 30 or so paying customers on the tour. We next went to the distilling area, where the unfinished product is stored in huge, silo-sized wooden vats while it ferments. We got to taste the fermenting product, which tasted a lot like watery oatmeal.

Next, we went to a warehouse where the oak barrels are stored for the aging process. Our guide, again, was knowledgeable and clearly explained to us how Makers Mark and Makers Mark 46 are aged. After that, we went to the tasting room, where our guide had us smell and taste 4 different samples and facilitated a discussion about each. She was a little bit rough on one hapless tour customer who dared to say that the Maker's Mark sample was "harsh." I know it caught her off guard and even ticked her off a little bit to have someone dis the product they sell, but gezz! It is a free country and the guy is entitled to his opinion. Especially after he paid $9 admission to the tour. I suspect that she made the guy wish he hadn't even come on the tour.

Finally, the tour came to an end as all tours do: in the gift shop. The merchandise in the shop, which includes Maker's Mark and all manner of products emblazoned with Maker's Mark logo, is a tad pricey.

It was a fun afternoon and my wife and I enjoyed the tour. But Loretto is off the beaten path, and with the tour no longer free, we won't be going there again soon.

6  Thank Tippecanoe1841
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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224 - 228 of 356 reviews

Reviewed February 19, 2014

We enjoyed five wonderful days tasting great bourbon. This was originally a special trip for
my husband. In fact, I brought along a few French language books, because I thought I would be bored. Was I in for a surprise! I really enjoyed our adventure! We visited some of the distilleries on the trail, and a few not featured. We began with Woodford Reserve, the tour was enjoyable and our guide very informative. The buildings are historical and the tasting was delicious. The company is still owned by a US concern. My husband liked the double oaked style the best. At the end of the tour we were offered some delicious Rebecca Ruth bourbon chocolates. Addicting!! There is a charge for this tour. The next day we toured Buffalo Trace, which covers and sells The Buffalo Trace, Pappy Van Winkle, and Blantons, along with Herbsaint. The Buffalo Trace enterprise is also US owned. The tour was well done, there is no charge. We were allowed a close up view of the bottling line. The Blanton line has special collectible cork stoppers which show race horses in sequence from start to finish, each one spelling out a letter of Blantons. Our guide was very helpful, and I liked that each tour and distillery offered a unique twist. Don't miss trying their Bourbon Cream. We returned the next day to buy another bottle. Allow extra room in your suitcase! Next stop Marker's Mark, where we thoroughly enjoyed the fact that they tried to keep everything as original as possible, even the old label printing press. It had been a true family operation. The distillery is off the beaten path, but the countryside is beautiful. The new tasting room was a great experience. We tried samples from start to finish. We also liked the sales room, which had the best items to take home. We were sorry that we didn't buy a bottle which we could have hand-dipped. Each bottle retailed is still hand-dipped. My husband really liked the Maker's 46. On our last day we visited Wild Turkey, where I enjoyed their video explanation, and began to really understand the process a little better. Again, our guide was friendly and knowledgeable. Last stop Four Roses, where our tour guide was engaging and we did learn some new facts, but I was sorry that they do not barrel on site. We did, however, meet an international visitor. For the most part, we had private tours, since we chose to travel during the quiet season. In fact, we experienced a small amount of snow during most of our visit. We stayed half between Louisville and Lexington, but I think we will base in Lexington on the next visit. We had dinner at Johnathan's, enjoying a wonderful meal. There may be a bit more to do in Lexington, rather than in the countryside. It is a bit odd, however, that 70% of the state is dry, while they produce 90% of the bourbon consumed in the US. Be sure you buy or bring in what you want to drink if you are staying in one of these counties. Some dining establishments do offer liquor, so you are not subjected to a complete prohibition, since the Bourbon Trail is what brought us here in the first place!

16  Thank southernbelle007
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 18, 2014

Beautiful views, Bourbon tasting, friendly people and history are all part of this great adventure! The ability to purchase unique Bourbons at each distillery that aren't available in your local store is a BIG plus. Pick up a Bourbon Trail Passport, get a stamp at each distillery, send it it when you've visited them all, and you get a t-shirt acknowledging your accomplishment. The visits don't have to be done in one trip, I used trips to drop my daughter off at Vanderbilt University to complete my passport. It took me two years, but I did it! Have fun!

2  Thank nugrape
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 25, 2014

The Kentucky Bourbon Trail is a Bucket List MUST. You begin your 'trek' at the Evan Williams Experience in Louisville (while enjoying some great bourbon infused food in the downtown eateries. After that, take to the country, Bourbon Country that is! Just 25 miles or so south of Louisville in Clermont is the Jim Beam American Stillhouse, a multi million dollar visitors center and the home of the Jim Beam brands. You're within sight of Bardstown and the Heaven Hill Bourbon Heritage Center. The long and winding road to Loretto (Burkes Springs) brings you to the most scenic of all the distilleries, Maker's Mark. Sample some sour mash straight out of the vats and then dip your own red wax bottle! When you get to Lawrenceburg, the Four Roses Distillery will surprise you with their South of the Border design exterior, but believe me the bourbon inside is pure Kentucky! Wild Turkey is just down the road, so Lawrenceburg is a distillery Daily Double!! As you near Lexington, the Woodford Reserve Distillery in Versailles (pronounced Vur-Sales) is home to not only some good sippin' but a fine on site restaurant as well. You will finish the journey in Lexington (Home of the Kentucky Wildcats!) with the latest addition to the trail, Town Branch Distillery. Make reservations to stay the night in Lexington and enjoy the downtown nightlife, Belles Cocktail House on Market would be a good choice, Once you discover the Bourbon Trail, you'll want to make this an annual journey with friends.

12  Thank Monica P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 9, 2014

I've been on the Bourbon Trail three times now, once in 2010, once in 2012, and then in January of 2014. A lot has changed in the last couple years. Nearly all the distilleries have added new guest centers and two stops have been added to the trail. The improvements are definitely a nice touch, but be advised: all the distilleries charge now. Not a big deal, but if you plan on hitting them all in a couple days, expect another $50 or $60 per person.
Woodford Reserve, $5
Town Branch, $7
Wild Turkey, $7
Four Roses, ? (We didn't tour or taste here; I don't like their bourbon)
Heaven Hill, $6 (I think it was $6...this one is my favorite because I love Elijah Craig)
Maker's Mark, $9 (this is definitely one you don't want to miss)
Jim Beam, $10
The Evan Williams Experience, $12 (brand new and super cool, but they taste the same as Heaven Hill)

21  Thank R_Hendo99
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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