With Bardstown, Ky being the Bourbon Capital of the World, and also voted as The Most Beautiful Small Town in America, it's definitely worth visiting. I'm not a big Bourbon drinker but absolutely loved learning about the history and watching Bourbon being made in front of my very own eyes. My husband and I stayed over for the night, visited 3 Bourbon Distilleries, which we toured, tasted, and learned the new term "Kentucky hug". We also enjoyed the fresh country air, rolling hills, friendly locals, and able to simply decompress from the Cincinnati life.
Bardstown is home to 6 distilleries in town and 7 other distilleries are just a short drive away. This is why it's the perfect place to start your Bourbon trail journey. After listening to others on the tour, they stated that doing 2-3 a day is the perfect amount, so keep that in mind- you don't want to overdo it. Make sure to also book in advance- especially now with COVID, most of the tour's capacity is limited to 6 people per tour. We booked our tours about a week in advance and barely made the cut. A lot of places were already sold out, but we were lucky enough to book some great ones. The tour prices vary from free to $25 a person and what tour you plan on doing. A lot of the tours are mostly outside now, so dress appropriately!
Barton 1792 Distillery
Barton is the oldest fully-operating distillery in Bardstown. We started this tour at 9 am- where we met and were greeted by the friendliest people in the gift shop area. After everyone on the tour arrived, we then got in our cars and followed the tour guide through the secured gates of the distillery. This was one of my favorite tours because you really get to see how a distillery is run and works. We saw the semi-trucks delivering endless amounts of corn- the #1 ingredient in Bourbon. We went inside and got to see some of the machinery working its magic. At the end of the tour, we tasted Very Old Barton,1792 Small Batch, and finished with a chocolate Bourbon ball. This tour is free and I highly recommend making it your first tour of the day.
Willett Distillery is a family-owned and operated distillery. The grounds and buildings of Willett are absolutely beautiful and different from other distilleries we've visited. The walking tour is $12 per person and includes a signature glass with a pour of Willett Whiskey- which is how you start your tour. While you sip on your whiskey- you learn about the history and what makes Willett Distillery unique. I loved walking through the barrel storage warehouse with one of the friendly outdoor cats following us around. At the end of the tour, you get your pick of 4 different Bourbons or Whiskeys to taste in the tasting room. We then had lunch upstairs at the Bar at Willett- which serves amazing small plates and traditional Bourbon cocktails. They also have a little cafe by the gift shop where we got lattes to go. This is the perfect tour do around lunchtime!
Makers Mark Distillery is located in Loretto, Kentucky, on Star Hill Farm. We didn't do an official guided tour, but was free to explore and walk the beautiful grounds. With a beautiful creek winding in alongside gorgeous buildings, it's truly is enchanting. Take a trip to the gift shop where you can purchase a bottle and dip it in the signature red wax.
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Bardstown is such a charming town full of small businesses and friendly people. It's a place where you can stay in a former jail from the 18th century that has been turned into a cozy bed and breakfast- some people say it's haunted, but I'll let you decide. You can also dine or stay at the old Talbott Tavern. It was built in the late 1700s and is named as one of the oldest hotels in Kentucky. If you can imagine- some of its first customers arrived on horseback or buggies!
Where we stayed
I decided not to take my chances on haunted places- even though it would make a good story to tell and picked out a charming new bed and breakfast in New Haven, KY. I loved this spot so much because the new Log Still distillery is being built right next to it and I wanted to share this beautiful place! It was the peaceful and quiet getaway I really wanted.
More Places to Explore
New Haven is really close to the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park. If you have time, I highly recommend visiting this park. It's free, beautiful, and full of history. Don't forget to walk around the trails and stop at the Sinking Spring!
Have you done any of the Bourbon Trail or plan to? Let me know in the comments. If you have any questions feel free to ask!
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Happy Travels <3!