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Kentucky Bourbon Trail: Part Two

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Continuing along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, one thing is clear: It’s all about bourbon, barrels . . .  and more bourbon.

Kentucky Bourbon Trail: Part Two

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Continuing along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, one thing is clear: It’s all about bourbon, barrels . . .  and more bourbon.


Lebanon, KY 


Two words: red wax. Pretty much everybody who tours the hallowed grounds of Maker’s Mark Distillery wants to dip a bottle into the signature molten red wax. It is a coveted part of going behind-the-scenes to see what makes this legendary distillery tick.


A new attraction is The Cellar, carved from a natural limestone shelf on distillery grounds to provide a place to finish Marker’s 46. Beloved among bourbon enthusiasts everywhere, this particular bourbon is made by placing seared French oak staves into a barrel of fully aged Maker’s Mark for about nine weeks. The result? Satisfyingly complex flavors – not to mention a tour showing off the finishing process and one seriously cool tasting room.


Lebanon is famous as the only place on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail to witness both bourbon and bourbon barrel making. Watch the barrels get charred at Kentucky Cooperage and learn how this adds an exquisite depth to bourbon. Limestone Branch Distillery gained fame for distilling the original recipe for Yellowstone Bourbon – a brand that dates back to 1872. It’s also known for having the best selfie stop ever, at the Maker’s Mark Water Tower.


Beyond bourbon: The 3.2-mile Gorley Naturalist Trail (www.visitlebanonky.com) encircles Fagan Branch Reservoir, its beautiful wooded backdrop made even more scenic by 47 bridges.


One shop stop: Girlie-girls won’t want to miss That Cute Little Shop (www.thatcutelittleshop.co). It’s all that, and a monogrammed bag.


Louisville, KY 


The first distillery to open since Prohibition in Kentucky’s largest city was the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience. Located on Whiskey Row on Louisville’s beautiful waterfront, the immersive experience sweeps visitors into 1783 and the world of Kentucky’s first commercial distiller, Evan Williams.


Whiskey Row’s newest distillery is Angel’s Envy. Master Distiller Lincoln Henderson, who created the Woodford Reserve and Gentleman Jack brands among others, came out of retirement to work with his son Wes on an idea he’d had for years: finishing bourbon in Port barrels.


Calling the historic Stitzel-Weller Distillery “one of the true cathedrals of the American whiskey industry,” the Bulleit Frontier Whiskey Experience at Stitzel-Weller Distillery pays tribute to this distillery which opened originally on Derby Day in 1935.


Louisville is also the home of the Urban Bourbon Trail, with dozens of stops – each carrying a minimum of 50 bourbons – showcasing its standing as one of America’s “10 Best New Food Cities” and its bourbon heritage, which dates to the 18th century when frontier farmers first discovered the benefits of Kentucky’s limestone-filtered water in the whiskey distillation process.


Beyond bourbon: Magnificent art. Beautiful setting. The Speed Museum (www.speedmuseum.org) has just emerged from a 3-year renovation.


One shop stop: Familiar with the Kentucky Derby? Then you know about Kentucky’s obsession with the bourbon-soaked mint julep. Find Mint Julep Cups at Louisville Stoneware, www.louisvillestoneware.com.


Bourbon or bust


Although Harrodsburg is surrounded by Kentucky Bourbon Country, it just got a distillery last year when Olde Towne opened as the country’s first distillery to produce moonshine from hemp. But it already had a reputation for pouring fine Kentucky bourbon. Dixon Dedman, fifth generation innkeeper at the James Beard America’s Classic award-winning Beaumont Inn, takes visitors on a journey of premium bourbons during the Innkeeper’s Personalized Bourbon Tastings.


In the past couple years, 16 distilleries have opened or are in the process of opening in Kentucky, including Pikeville’s Dueling Barrels Distillery – an homage to the Hatfields and McCoys – and Jeptha Creed in Shelbyville. Bloody Butcher corn anyone? This heirloom corn is what gives the distillery’s spirits their bold, takes-no-prisoners profiles.


Kathy Witt


 July 15, 2017




Barton 1792 Distillery has 29 barrel aging warehouses and 22 other buildings including a still house on its 196 acres.

Photo: Visit Bardstown


Earlier in 2017, Willett Distillery celebrated the 80-year anniversary of when Thompson Willett and his family put their first barrels into storage.

Photo: Visit Bardstown


Bourbon Manor’s bourbon and bacon flapjacks are decadent deliciousness.

Photo: Bourbon Manor Bed and Breakfast


See the ruins of “Buffalo Trace Pompeii” along with the renovated Old Taylor House, circa 1700, on the distillery’s new Taylor Tour.

Photo: Kathy Witt


At Josephine Sculpture Park , stroll along the mowed paths and touch, photograph – even climb on – the sculptures.

Photo: Kathy Witt


Everyone’s favorite redhead: a bottle of Maker’s Mark dipped in red wax.

Photo: Visit Lebanon KY


Rising more than 135 feet above Lebanon, KY, the Maker’s Mark Water Tower is visible for miles.

Photo: Visit Lebanon KY


Tom Bulleit (Bulleit Frontier Whiskey Experience at Stitzel-Weller Distillery) was inspired to revive an old family bourbon recipe by his great-great-grandfather, Augustus Bulleit, who had crafted a high-rye whiskey in the mid-1800s.

Photo: Greater Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau 


Olde Towne Distillery moonshine and bourbon

Photo: Olde Towne Distillery


The family behind Jeptha Creed Distillery: (L to R): Autumn, Joyce, Bruce and Hunter Nethery.

Photo: Jeptha Creed Distillery


Lebanon's Gorley Trail is noted for the 47 bridges hikers and bikers cross while traversing the trail.

Photo: Visit Lebanon KY


Journey through the flavor profiles of some of Kentucky's finest bourbons with Beaumont Inn innkeeper Dixon Dedman.

Photo: Harrodsburg/Mercer County Tourist Commission


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