Wanderings: Kentucky Bourbon Trail

At Jim Beam

At Jim Beam

As I mentioned yesterday, the Mister is a bourbon man.  Years ago, when we were first dating, he asked me to go away with him for a long weekend to explore the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.  I wasn’t much of a bourbon drinker, but I love going anywhere new and Kentucky sounded like as good as any place.

Woodford Reserve

Woodford Reserve

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Maker's Mark

Maker’s Mark

It was breezy and overcast, and as we drove along winding gravel roads and grassy green hills, the countryside felt moody and romantic.  We spent that Saturday hopping from distillery to distillery, learning about bourbon making and sampling batches.  Most of the distilleries are closed on Sunday, so we spent that day exploring Kentucky wine country, which was amazingly fun.  My favorite winery had a tasting menu with 23 wines and for just $3 you got to try them all(!) and keep the glass.

Sampling the mash at Maker's

Sampling the mash at Maker’s

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Sealing his own bottle at Maker's

Sealing his own bottle at Maker’s

Wild Turkey store house

Wild Turkey store house

Corn and rye at Woodford Reserve

Corn and rye at Woodford Reserve

Wild Turkey distillery

Wild Turkey distillery

When we weren’t sampling Kentucky wines and bourbons, we indulged in amazing barbeque for lunch, and went for dinner at a restaurant in Louisville that was attached to an art gallery.

Kentucky BBQ

Kentucky BBQ

Dinner out in Louisville

Dinner out in Louisville

We rented rooms in a couple of little B&Bs in Bardstown, Kentucky.  My favorite was Springhill Plantation and Winery.  The rooms were beautiful, the wine was plentiful, and we really enjoyed having breakfast with the owner, who entertained us with Civil War and ghost stories about the area over spicy grits and coffee.  In our downtime it was lovely to wander around vineyards and act like the goopy young lovebirds we were.

If I’m being honest, I can’t say I had the highest expectations for this trip, figuring at the least it would be a few days off of work and some quality time with my guy.  To my surprise, it turned out to be an incredibly fun time, and we both loved how unpretentious and friendly everyone was.  We chatted with bourbon makers, vintners, and plantation owners just as easily as fellow travelers and bar tenders.  Of all the domestic trips I’ve taken, this is probably the one I recommend most often, at least to friends who have any interest in bourbon.

Springhill Winery and B&B

Springhill Winery and B&B

Wandering the vineyards.  Who wouldn't fall in love with this guy?

Wandering the vineyards. Who wouldn’t fall in love with this guy?

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6 Comments on “Wanderings: Kentucky Bourbon Trail

    • Definitely hit the bourbon trail if you can. I didn’t have high expectations and it ended up being one of my favorite stateside trips.

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  1. He looks so excited! How did you guys plan the itinerary–or did you just show up to the factory and wander around the town? I have a friend whose boyfriend would be into this type of tour.

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    • The Mister did all the planning for this trip since he was the one that wanted to go. I think he used this site (http://kybourbontrail.com/) for a lot of the info, plus a fair bit of googling. I would say the best tour of all the tours was Wild Turkey, which really surprised us. If your friend goes, don’t skip that one. It felt like a real tour, while some of the fancier distiller tours felt like theme park rides.

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      • But boozy theme park rides!

        Thank you for the link; I will definitely let them know! Was the Maker’s Mark one ok? I like the idea of making your own custom bottle. Although if all it means is picking one off the shelf and dipping the end in red wax then that’s another story.

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      • Makers was fun and very interesting. Definitely worth going, plus the tour is free. Wild Turkey was just a bit more gritty and authentic, which we found appealing.

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