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Travel Tip: Visiting Bourbon Country

A guide to seeing, smelling, tasting and learning about American whiskey in Kentucky and Tennessee

Lew Bryson
Posted: February 21, 2012

Note: This is an excerpt from "Visiting Bourbon Country," by Lew Bryson, which originally appeared in the Jan. 31, 2012 - Feb. 29, 2012 issue of Wine Spectator.

If you'd like to learn more about American whiskey, there are few better ways than visiting a distillery. Smelling the sour mash, seeing and hearing a column still and experiencing the heavy redolence of aging Bourbon and oak in a warehouse take your exploration to a whole new level. Add to that the beauty of the rolling bluegrass country, the jazzy fun of Louisville, Ky., and the eye-popping selection of seldom-seen Bourbons at local bars and liquor stores, and you've got a great vacation.

Below you'll find some resources to get you started. Note that several producers (including Buffalo Trace, Jack Daniel's, George A. Dickel, Heaven Hill, Maker's Mark, Wild Turkey and Woodford Reserve) offer individual tours. Also bear in mind that some distilleries don't make Bourbon in the heat of summer—an industry tradition—so plan accordingly if you want to see the full operation. Similarly, most distilleries are closed on major U.S. holidays, and some are closed on Sundays; again, confirm before you go.


TRAILS & EVENTS

KENTUCKY DISTILLERS ASSOCIATION'S KENTUCKY BOURBON TRAIL
Telephone: (502) 875-9351
Website: www.kybourbontrail.com

URBAN BOURBON TRAIL
Telephone: 888-LOUISVILLE
Website: www.bourboncountry.com

KENTUCKY BOURBON FESTIVAL: Sept. 11-16, 2012
Telephone: (800) 638-4877
Website: www.kybourbonfestival.com

OSCAR GETZ MUSEUM OF WHISKEY HISTORY
114 N. Fifth St., Bardstown, Ky.
Telephone: (502) 348-2999
Website: www.whiskeymuseum.com
Open: Nov. 1 to April 30, Tuesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday, noon to 4 p.m.; May 1 to Oct. 31, Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday, noon to 4 p.m.; call for holiday closings
Cost: Free


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