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
URBAN BOURBON TRAIL
KENTUCKY BOURBON FESTIVAL: Sept. 11-16, 2012
Telephone: (800) 638-4877
OSCAR GETZ MUSEUM OF WHISKEY HISTORY
114 N. Fifth St., Bardstown, Ky.
Telephone: (502) 348-2999
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