95% of all the bourbon in the world is distilled in Kentucky. The distillers banded together back in 1999 to create the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, which has grown to include 18 Kentucky distilleries located within a 40 mile radius.
The number of visitors to those distilleries is exploding. In 2014, more than 725,000 made the journey, up 10% from 2013, according to ABC News. They came from every state in the nation and from 50 foreign countries to see how bourbon is made and sample the spirits produced by all the distilleries of the Trail. Kentucky Distillers Association officials expect that number to grow to over a million by 2018.
Experts recommend that visitors allow at least three days to complete the tour, taking in all the sights along the way — from horse farms to quaint villages. Or if you prefer the bright lights and music of city life, center your journey around Louisville or Lexington. For a list of events coming up during the time you plan on visiting, check out the Trail’s website.
You don’t even have to drive if you prefer not to. Mint Julep Tours has a large assortment of tour options to fit every budget, including tours of area horse farms and historic Louisville.
New to the list of options is a carefully planned Bike The Kentucky Bourbon Trail option, complete with detailed route instructions and suggestions depending on your level of fitness. Some routes are more challenging while others offer sedate pedaling along Kentucky’s back roads. Please note that clip on bicycle shoes are not permitted inside any of the distilleries, so be sure to bring alternate footware.
The larger distilleries on the Bourbon Trail include Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, Wild Turkey, Town Branch, Evan Williams, Woodford Reserve and Four Roses. There is also a Craft Tour of smaller, specialty distillers such as Barrel House Distilling Co., Corsair Artisan Distillery, Limestone Branch, MB Roland, New Riff, The Old Pogue Distillery, Silver Trail, Wilderness Trail, and Danville Willett Distillery.
Surely between them all, one will stand out as your favorite.