Bourbon, from drinks to books, all over the map in Kentucky

jpatton1@herald-leader.comSeptember 28, 2013 

With 95 percent of the world's bourbon made in Kentucky, it is easy to have a "bourbon experience" in the Bluegrass.

But seeing it all will take more than one trip.

There's Kentucky Bourbon Trail, with seven distilleries across the state. It includes Four Roses and Wild Turkey in Lawrenceburg; Heaven Hill in Bardstown; Jim Beam in Clermont; Maker's Mark in Loretto; Town Branch in Lexington and Woodford Reserve in Versailles.

Touring all those distilleries is likely to take more than a day already, and new stops are being added.

In October, Evan Williams plans to open an eighth: the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience in downtown Louisville.

Most of the distilleries have new visitors center with tasting rooms: Evan Williams will have two — it already has the Bourbon Heritage Center in Bardstown.

As well, there are Buffalo Trace in Frankfort and its Sazerac sister, the Barton 1792 Distillery in Bardstown, both of which have tours and visitor experiences.

There are also the stops on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour, founded last year with seven micro-distilleries: Barrel House Distillery, Lexington; Corsair Artisan Distillery, Bowling Green; Limestone Branch Distillery, Lebanon; MB Roland Distillery, Pembroke; Old Pogue Distillery, Maysville; Silver Trail Distillery, Hardin; and Willett Distillery, Bardstown.

Angel's Envy also is building a new distillery on Main Street in Louisville, as is Michter's. And a newcomer, Peerless Distilling, will be coming soon as well.

And you still won't have covered all the bourbon bases: There's the annual Kentucky Bourbon Festival in Bardstown in September, the Bourbon Chase (a 100-mile run through bourbon country) in October, and the Bourbon Classic, a tasting event in Louisville in January.

If that whets your palate for bourbon sights, how about some history: the Oscar Getz Whiskey Museum in Bardstown has historical artifacts collected by the founder and wonderful old bourbon memorabilia on display.

For in-depth research on Louisville's Whiskey Row and on the origins of Kentucky bourbon, try the Filson Historical Society in Louisville.

While you're in Louisville, if you get thirsty, hop on the Urban Bourbon Trail. The 28 or so bars and restaurants on the trail each offer more than 50 bourbons you can taste.

But look around, there are bourbon bars and restaurants in Lexington, in Bardstown, in Northern Kentucky, and elsewhere.

If this is a driving tour and you're looking for something slightly less tipsy, check out the many places you can get bourbon ball chocolates, such as Rebecca Ruth's factory in Frankfort, Old Kentucky Chocolates in Lexington, or Art Eatables in Louisville.

Or check out the University Press of Kentucky's extensive collection of bourbon-relate publications, including Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey, An American Heritage by Michael R. Veach, The Kentucky Bourbon Cookbook by Albert W.A. Schmid, The Social History of Bourbon by Gerald Carson, The Kentucky Bourbon Cocktail Book by Joy Perrine and Susan Reigler, and coming in September the Kentucky Bourbon Country, The Essential Travel Guide by Susan Reigler.

Janet Patton is a business reporter. (859) 231-3264. Twitter: janetpattonhlJanet Patton is a business reporter. (859) 231-3264. Twitter: @janetpattonhl.

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