Louisville, Kentucky – Bourbon Trail
- More about your oliver guide: Dan Woodhead
- Trip type: Adult, Group getaway
- Activity level: easy
- Ideal length of trip: 3 Days
to & from
Having a driver will make the distillery tour much more relaxing for all. Many of the distilleries are off the beaten path and cell coverage can get spotty. Plus, a lot of the drivers/companies have insider knowledge. i.e – knowing when is the best time to show up at certain distilleries, who to book as your tour guide at the distillery, etc. We went with BlueGrass Transportation and they were excellent. For our size group (6 adults) we were in a mini-van.
Where to Stay
We did an Airbnb in the Highlands/Bardstown Road neighborhood in Louisville. Plenty of coffee, food and beverage options within a short walk, scooter or Uber .
Where to Eat and Drink
- Butchertown Grocery
- Lola- Speak Easy type lounge upstairs of Butchertown Grocery
- Holy Grale/Grale Haus - Old church converted into a craft beer bar with outdoor beer garden. Gralehaus, which is behind Holy Grale and shares the beer garden has a great, casual brunch with a full bar (order at the counter, they bring it to your table.)
- Hop Cat - 2 Story Sports Bar with Corn hole, Shuffle Board, Pop-a-Shot and 90
What to Do
I suggest not doing an official Bourbon Trail tour, as that will be limited to larger distilleries that pay a yearly fee to be an official Bourbon Trail Distillery. Some of my favorite distilleries/tours are listed below. Visiting a variety of distilleries (big, small, old, new) kept it interesting.
- Buffalo Trace Distillery - We did the Hard Hat tour which includes a tasting at the end. Our tour guide was Freddie Johnson, who is kind of famous in the bourbon world https://www.state-journal.com/2018/09/15/buffalo-traces-freddie-johnson-inducted-into-bourbon-hall-of-fame/ This was my favorite tour by far. Book a tour with Freddie if you can.
- Peerless Distillery - This is a small distillery with an interesting history and unique distilling method. They just re-opened in a brand new facility in downtown Louisville. We did this tour/tasting on the day we arrived. About a hour tour/tasting.
- Woodford Reserve - Beautifully kept grounds. Had more of a winery feel than any of the other distilleries we visited.
- Glenn Creek Distillery - Our driver described these guys as mad scientist. The description fit after meeting the distillers and walking around the former Old Crow Distilllery that they purchased and are currently only using a couple of the buildings. The rest are abandoned with plenty of ghost rumors. This place was a complete 180 from Woodford, but just as enjoyable.
- Three Boys Farm Distillery - This was my personal favorite. The entire distilling and bottling operation is inside a barn sized building (2 pictures, red roof and guide pouring my bottle out of barrel). The tastings were pulled directly from 3 separate barrels and you can buy a bottle that will be poured, caped and labeled right in front of you. Very small operation, you can only purchase their bourbon onsite. My favorite bourbon of all the tastings.
- Bring a bag you can check for your return flight in case you want to bring any bourbon home. Some of the smaller distilleries only sell in Kentucky.
- Our transportation was BYOB, they provided a cooler and ice. They also provided a padded cooler for any bourbon bottles that you may purchase along the way.
- 4 distilleries in 1 day was plenty, with a nice lunch in the middle. We left Louisville at 8am and returned at around 5:30, ordering pizza once we got back to the house.
- There are some beautiful thoroughbred horse farms located around some of the distilleries. Some of them also do tours if you want mix up your day.
- Four Roses Distillery - We just did a tasting here, but of all the distilleries we visited, this one felt the most generic. Not a bad experience, but if we had to drop one from our list this would be it.
What to Pack
Pack for the weather. You’ll be spending time indoors and out, so layers are good.