kentucky's bourbon distilleries

Planning A Visit To Kentucky’s Bourbon Distilleries

Planning a trip to visit to one of Kentucky’s Bourbon Distilleries or Bardstown, Kentucky? There are so many neat attractions in the Bardstown area and plenty of distilleries to visit, planning a trip might seem a little daunting. I’m sharing a few tips for planning a visit to Kentucky’s Bourbon Distilleries and answering questions such has, “How many distilleries can you visit in a day?”

kentucky's bourbon distilleries

Inside a rickhouse at Barton’s 1792

Kentucky's Bourbon Distilleries

Planning a visit to Kentucky’s Bourbon Distilleries:

How many distilleries can you visit in a day? 

On my most recent visit on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, we left our hotel near Harrodsburg, Kentucky around 8:15am and arrived back at 4:30pm; we visited one cooperage and three distilleries in roughly eight hours. Our day was meticulously planned and we had appointments at each distillery, so we didn’t waste any time waiting on a tour to begin. I would estimate that you could visit five distilleries in a day, but it would be tough to do a tasting at each distillery. You need to plan out your driving route (or better yet hire a tour or driver) to maximize time, otherwise you could spend a large portion of your day driving.

The Kentucky Bourbon Trail® is actually a trademark program through the distiller’s association. Their list is not quite comprehensive because they don’t include all distilleries in Kentucky. I’ve created the list below which includes a few distilleries not on their list. There are several distilleries that are under construction around the state, I’ll try to update the list as they open.

Bardstown Area Distilleries:

Louisville Area Distilleries:

Lexington area:

Lawrenceburg area:

Danville area:

Northern Kentucky:

 

kentucky's bourbon distilleries

The grounds at Maker’s Mark

 

Kentucky's Bourbon Distilleries

Limestone Branch Distillery

Kentucky's Bourbon Distilleries

A must have for any bourbon lover’s bookshelf

How long do distillery tours last?

The length of the distillery tour varies according to the distillery. I’ve seen that some were as short as 30 minutes and as long as 2.5 hours. You’ll want to wear comfortable shoes because many of them require lots of walking and occasionally climbing stairs. It’s best to check with the individual distillery when scheduling your tour and ask about the tour length.

Do I need to schedule my tour with the distillery?

Technically no, but my answer is yes. You can occasionally get in as a walk-in or wait for a later tour, but I saw signs during our last visit about some tours being full for the day. If you book a tour that covers distilleries, they generally book your tours for the group; it’s one of the many advantages of booking a tour or a driver. Central Kentucky Tours has a great Barrel to Bottle Tour which includes 3 distilleries and a cooperage.

 

Kentucky's Bourbon distilleries

Another view into Barton’s 1792 Rickhouse

Bourbon Heritage Center

A display inside the Bourbon Heritage Center at Heaven Hill

dipping Maker's Mark Bottes

These Maker’s Mark employees are dipping the iconic red wax topped bottles.

Can someone under the age of 21 take a distillery tour?

Individuals under the age of 21 can tour a distillery but they will not be allowed to participate in any included tasting. We took our son on our tour of Barton 1792 and to the Bourbon Heritage Center, and he is only 7 years old.  Our visit to the Bourbon Heritage Center included the Bourbon Connoisseur Tasting, so he played on the iPad during the tasting. He walked around with us on the Barton 1792 tour and our tour guide was kind enough to let him “help”. He certainly couldn’t understand the distillery process, but he enjoyed all the equipment and buildings. On our last visit I was pregnant, so I couldn’t participate in any of the tastings; I still enjoyed the tours.

spring at barton's distillery

My son “catching” a drink from the limestone spring at Barton’s Distillery.

limestone branch distillery

The award for most animated storyteller at any of the distilleries was our guide at Limestone Branch.

What do distillery tours cost?

Tour prices begin as low as $5 at some distilleries, but they average from $10-15. Some distilleries offer extensive tours and tastings, and those are generally more expensive than the entry tours. Many distilleries don’t charge for individuals  under the age of 21 (because their tour doesn’t include a tasting).

 

Limestone Branch Distillery

Limestone Bourbon being bottled at Limestone Branch Distillery

Limestone Branch Distillery

Moon Pie Moonshine is available from Limestone Branch Distillery.

Maker's Mark Distillery

A vat of “mash” at Maker’s Mark Distillery

 

Maker's Mark Distillery

It’s Mint Julep season in Kentucky. Aren’t these julep cups adorable?

Wilderness Trace Distllery

One of the stills from Wilderness Trace Distillery.

Bourbon Heritage Center

My husband said the tasting at Heaven Hill’s Bourbon Heritage Center was as informative as it was delicious.

What should I wear on a distillery tour? 

If you’re touring multiple distilleries, you’ll want to wear comfortable shoes. The tours often require quite a bit of walking and some occasional stairs, even with really good shoes my feet were tired at the end of the day. I would advise to wear clothing that can easily transition from cold to warm environments if you visit during the winter; you’ll have to walk from building to building, and parts of a tour can be outside. If you’re visiting in the summer, just plan on wearing something light and cool. The rickhouses (where the barrels are stored) can get hot.

It would take several days to visit all of the distilleries on this list and lots of planning, but I imagine it would be quite fun. I’ve only visited 8 on the list, but I hope to visit the rest eventually. Have you visited any bourbon distilleries in Kentucky? If so, do you have any tips that you think I should have included? I hope this article is helpful in planning a visit to one of Kentucky’s Bourbon Distilleries and shoot me an email or leave a comment if you have any questions.

 

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