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KY bourbon trip recommendations?

2,960 Views | 28 Replies | Last: 2 mo ago by Matsui
Schall 02
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AG
Booked tours at Buffalo Trace and Woodford Reserve already, but would appreciate any recommendations from folks who have been. Any exceptional private tours? Great places to eat in Louisville? Activities other than booze that are not to be missed?

TIA
Live_Flyway_Action
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Here's some tips from when I went(6 yrs ago):

Buffalo Trace- make plenty of time for this. Huge grounds and great tour.
Four roses- did the tasting skipped the tour
Woodford- same, did the tasting but no tour
Willett- great tour and tasting. Smaller place and cool to see the pot stills
Makers Mark- also a cool facility. It was raining while we were there but got to spend a decent amount of time there
Bulliet- in Louisville easy to go while in town


Pat's Steak House in Louisville was great.
Wagner's Pharmacy- diner/pharmacy across the street from Churchill Downs if y'all have time for a pony race
aggiesherpa
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AG
The VIP tour at Old Forester's is my favorite. I really enjoyed Angel's Envy's set up as well. When I visited Four Roses a couple years ago, they were under construction, so I would love to go back there.
Ronnie
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AG
It's been a long time, but I enjoyed Heaven Hill distillery tour/tasting. Elijah Craig, Evan Williams.
aggie7020
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AG
Really enjoy Bardstown Bourbon Company. The honey barrel thieving tour is cool.
LPHA
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AG
Go to Mammy's in Bardstown for lunch. Get the BLT.
austinag1997
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AG
So, I started basing out of Bardstown.

Easy to get to muliple distilleries from there.

Best tours:

Woodford Reserve
Makers Mark (did it in the rain once also, but it was cool)
Heaven Hill

The first 2 have awesome properties/facilities
Heaven Hill has great tastings.

Also, try to tour Kentucky Cooperage (now Independent Stave Company). They show you how they build and char barrels. Cool tour.

You will never forget the smell of a rickhouse!

Also, check the hours of each distillery... they are limited. We have done 13 distilleries in 3 days. 13 of 13 was Makers Mark. The guy was amazed and asked the mileage of our car over those 3 days!
agcrock2005
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AG
I second Maker's Mark. Although I don't really like their bourbon the facility is really cool and at the end of the tour you can buy a bottle and dip it in the red wax which is pretty neat. It's a very pretty area as well. Has the feel of a civil war battlefield.
Silver Arrows
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AG
Any particular time of the year you all recommend going?
Live_Flyway_Action
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First Saturday in may
cecil77
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Have only done it once, but we are really wine people.

And that's the difference. For Bourbon:

* Many places are a half hour to an hour apart - so lots more driving compared to a wine area.

* You're dinking Bourbon, not wine!~ Honestly 2 or 3 in a day is the most I'd ever want to do.

* Did Woodford, MM, Jim Beam and Wild Turkey. But it was all in one day and really was too much driving and maybe too much Bourbon as well.
LPHA
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AG
Peerless is an awesome distillery. Unbelievably clean, and their single barrel guy gives an awesome tour. The high price makes much more sense after seeing how they do things. Tasting the mash in the fermentation tanks was interesting
wadd96
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AG
Dang it... Now I want to go back... Guess I'll have to plan a 2022 trip....
"ISIS targeting the U.S. military is like a sheep targeting a lion." - Sgt. Dakota Meyer
DropDemNuggetz
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AG
cecil77 said:

Have only done it once, but we are really wine people.

And that's the difference. For Bourbon:

* Many places are a half hour to an hour apart - so lots more driving compared to a wine area.

* You're dinking Bourbon, not wine!~ Honestly 2 or 3 in a day is the most I'd ever want to do.

* Did Woodford, MM, Jim Beam and Wild Turkey. But it was all in one day and really was too much driving and maybe too much Bourbon as well.



Yeah sounds like you should have stuck to wine and skipped all together.
Snowball
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AG
Went to Louisville in 2017 and had an amazing trip based out of Louisville. We booked an Air BNB near Audubon Park and it was awesome. Some people do the trail based out of Lexington or Bardstown. Louisville with a rental car is manageable and fun.

If you're in Louisville, Many liquor stores do tastings and can open up bottles that you could never afford for per ounce drinks, Tried a PVW 23 for $40 as opposed to trying to find a bottle. Totally worth it if you want to try this way. The one store that had an amazing selection of options and barrel picks was "Westport Wine and Whiskey" in Louisville.

As far as the distillery tours go, your mileage may vary depending on your interests and preferences.

Buffalo Trace- Out of all the tours, this one is a "Must go". beautiful scenery, Book the "Hard Hat" tour for the full experience (book early, fills up fast. Ask for Freddie as your guide if possible). Don't even think about buying Blanton's or hard to find bottles. They only had Wheatley Vodka and Buffalo trace in their shop. They have a huge gift shop as well. The tasting was their "White Dog" Un-aged distillate, Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare, and then you could try their Bourbon Cream IIRC. Overall, if you only get to do one full tour/tasting experience, this should be it.

Woodford Reserve- Smaller grounds, nice tasting paired with chocolate in the tasting room. Bottling room access on tour was very interesting. Very loud too with the glass bottles. Very cleaned up tour and "higher end" it seemed like. Tasting was paired with chocolates and had notes and tasting wheels. They have a restaurant on site too.

Willett- Bardstown area distilleries are neat and less refined experiences than the bigger ones closer to the city. Willett had you tour the grounds and then gave you access to their gift shop. Willett has a whole experience now with a bed and breakfast/restaurant that wasn't there when I went. You can buy bottles in their shop that are harder to find and aren't as widely distributed. They also have a good tasting of all the different ones they make if you like their stuff.

Heaven Hill/Bourbon Heritage Center- Heaven Hill seems to dominate the Bardstown area. This was much more "museum-like" with a smaller tasting. Got to try the "Very Old Fitzgerald 12" in their tasting, just ask if they have it. Very good. They have a large gift shop with some rarer bottles of Elijah Craig if you're lucky.

Four Roses- We did the bottling plant tour which is much smaller than the main one. Very simple tasting of their yellow label, small batch and single barrel. Nothing too special on this one. Gift shop had a lot of options for gifts, tumblers, glasses, etc.

Makers Mark- The other "must visit" tour from our experience, the grounds are beautiful, the gift shop lets you dip your own bottle or anything you would like to dip in red wax, they also have a good tasting and selection. They've opened up their experimental lab and the Maker's 46 side of things. Cool to see how they warehouse it in a climate controlled environment. They have an amazing restaurant on the grounds too called "Star Hill" that was outstanding.

Jim Beam Urban Stillhouse- This was in Downtown Louisville and was a touristy place, but you can bottle your own custom bottle and have it engraved.

Angel's Envy- In the middle of downtown Louisville. This tour was great and had a great tasting with orange-chocolates.Their rye was one of the our favorites. All of the bourbon chocolates you sample at all the distilleries are made in Downtown Louisville not to far from there at Art Eatables. Pack a few for the trip home to have with whiskey later.

All the distillery tours are pretty similar, to be honest. A few really stand out to me, but overall its very similar.

We ate at some great restaurants, Doc Crows was great, Garage Bar was good too, especially their charcuterie. Haymarket was a cool dive bar with great bottles. The Eagle bar had great fried chicken and a cool beer hall atmosphere too. Feast BBQ had good BBQ and frozen whiskey and ginger ale.

Let me know if you want anymore recommendations.
austinag1997
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AG
That's a really good summary. I was at Willett in 2012 when they fired up their own distillery.

Also spelled the demise of some of their really good barrelled juice from years past.
Matsui
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AG
Heading there in 10 days!
Bluecat_Aggie94
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AG
I have enjoyed every tour I've done, with Maker's Mark as my favorite.

As for food in Louisville, Jack Fry's. It's small so make reservations.
Ducks4brkfast
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AG
austinag1997 said:

Also spelled the demise of some of their really good barrelled juice from years past.
Yes, I'll have to go back and check my notes, however I think the last of the bernheim barrels were bottled in 2015 for gift shop only.

I'm still waiting on you to make me a sweet deal on your Willets
Schall 02
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austinag1997
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AG
That aligns with my receipts. I purchased two 25-yr WFE bottles on 12/30/2015. Barrel #2876.
austinag1997
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Actually looks like they dropped bottles through winter 2018. In any event... looks like it is gone. One would think Drew could start dropping 9 yr WFE from their own distillate. No clue what that will taste like.
tremble
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AG
Buffalo Trace would be my pick. I'm currently at Fort Knox and have lived here for the past three years. My wife just finished law school at UofL and my whole family was in from Texas to celebrate. We went to Buffalo Trace and managed to go on a day they had both Blanton's and Eagle Rare for sale, 1 bottle per person. They even scanned IDs for the Blanton's: one every three months from the distillery.

Not surprisingly, we ended up with 10 bottles of each of Blanton's and Eagle Rare.
Bazooka Joe
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Took the Buffalo Trace tour last March. The guy giving the tour looked at my 10 year old daughter at the time and asked how she takes her bourbon. I piped up, over my dead body. Kinda went downhill from there.
DropDemNuggetz
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AG
"You have a baby in a bar"
Schall 02
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Really enjoyed the the trip.

Buffalo Trace is awesome. Maker's Mark is as good as advertised (great). And we may it to Heaven Hill early enough to get their release that morning (EC 18, EC toasted barrel, and a grenade.)

Definitely some I'd avoid. Woodford feels so corporate I'm less likely to buy their product moving forward.
austinag1997
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Good comments. I always liked Woodford Reserve just to sit on the front porch with a bottle of their bourbon. Just that.
OwlAg13
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AG
Do you need to have a tour/tasting booked to have a good time at all of the distilleries these days?
Buffalo Trace is pretty booked up, but I'd still like to swing by without a tour and see the visitors center.
Do they all have bars you can just grab a drink at?
Matsui
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Just got back and short answer is most of them yes you need reservations. For example Buffalo doesn't have a bar like that. Most do. You 100% need to make reservations at places.
Refresh
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