We went to Louisville with the main goal of exploring bourbon country. As soon as we got in on Friday morning, we drove straight there! Just as a little FYI, the Kentucky Bourbon Trail features six Bourbon Distilleries. They are Woodford Reserve, Heaven Hill, Jim Beam, Wild Turkey, Four Roses, and Maker's Mark.
There are also many more distilleries to visit in the area – including Buffalo Trace Distillery and some smaller craft distilleries. We only had one weekend here to explore, so we didn’t have time to visit all of the ones above. I definitely wouldn't recommend trying to cram all into one weekend since some of the distilleries are a few hours apart. If you are planning a trip, I would suggest picking your favorite bourbons and going from there.
This stop was an absolute must for us, but is not technically on the “Bourbon Trail”. Buffalo Trace is my favorite bourbon. We even gave it out as Christmas gifts this past year! Many consider this the best bourbon in the world - everyone needs to try this stuff!
The tour was very informative, but the tasting is what we were really there for! They had the option to try 2 of the 4: white dog (distilled, but never placed into a barrel to age), their signature Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare (their single barrel bourbon), and a bourbon cream similar to Bailey's. We tried all but the white dog, but we should have tried that. All were extremely good!
Woodford Reserve is a premium, small-batch bourbon that is one of Jason’s favorites to drink. The distillery is located in Woodford County, Kentucky near the town of Versailles (pronounced vur-sales, not vair-sigh like in France). It is the oldest bourbon distillery in the state.
Woodford Reserve is, as far as I know, unique among mass-produced bourbons in that they exclusively use copper pot stills that you can see below. This tour was funny in that it was very commercial (we got headphones to listen) and took a shuttle bus to different areas on the grounds. We did get to learn a lot about bourbon production. We got to do a tasting at the end, but it was only their Distiller's Select that they sell internationally, so that was a little disappointing.
After taking tours all day and drinking bourbon, we drove back into Louisville. We ate at Hammerheads for dinner. This came recommended to us and we really enjoyed it! We stayed at the Brown Hotel in downtown Louisville. This is a crew hotel for Southwest, so we got a really good price as well.
Willett Family Distillery
This was a last minute addition to our trip, but I'm SO glad we stopped here (Thanks John!). The tour was small (there were only 10 other people with us) so much more intimate than the others we went to. It is a craft distillery, so they are able to experiment more with their bourbons. Also, we got to see the master taster at work here. When we were up looking at the fermenters, we even got to taste the sour mash right out of the tank! We tasted their Willett Pot Still Reserve, Noah's Mill and Rowan's Creek. We really loved the first 2 and might have found our new favorite bourbon in the Willett Pot Still Reserve. A cool tidbit - you can buy the used bourbon barrels for $75! Wish we had some way to get that back to Texas...
After this, we drove a few hours to Nashville to catch a flight. We had time to stop in for some amazing BBQ at Jack's and then went for a drink at a local country music bar along Broadway.
WOW, there were some crazy storms that caused some major flight delays, but we found a route that got us home. Our streak of never getting stuck is still going strong! It was a great little weekend and we really enjoyed learning more about bourbon.
Next up: We're heading to Kansas City, MO in 2 weeks for a wedding. We're looking forward to it!