Kentucky is a great place to warm up in the cold of winter...! They call it Bourbons of the Bluegrass...this is a fun, interesting "thing to do" even if you are not a fan of the drink! The bluegrass area of Kentucky is known for its bourbon distilleries. Actually, 95 percent of the world's supply of bourbon comes from Kentucky, but why? The four seasons of the state make it perfect for the process of making bourbon. The cold winter air forces the barrels to constrict pushing the bourbon that seeped into the wood over the summer back into the belly of the barrel. As it is pushed out of the wood, it brings with it wonderful flavors and that amber color bourbon is known for.
According to the native Kentuckians...they don't claim that the Bourbon was invented in the bluegrass region, however they do claim the first registered distillery was in central Kentucky. That would be the Ashland Distillery that was later known as "Old Tarr". It was built in the mid 1800's and today is the home to Buster's, a popular venue for live music concerts.
Initiatives are underway to develop a distillery district in which the historic buildings would be used for shopping, restaurants, housing and entertainment venues. Located in the heart of the proposed Distillery District, visitors will find Barrel House Distilling Company. Here crafters are making small batch Bourbon, that won't be ready for consumption until 2014.
In Kentucky they call it "America's Official native Spirit" and traveling the Kentucky Bourbon Trail includes not only the spirit of the drink, but the spirit of the area, bluegrass, beautiful scenery, friendly people and, of course horses.
Within 25 miles of Lexington there are four other distilleries. A great way to learn about the process that goes into every bottle of the bourbon is on a tour of one of the five working distilleries, like that of Buffalo Trace. The tour takes you through the process of making the warming spirits, gives you a taste of the amber bourbon and even a taste of their famed bourbon ball candy.
These distilleries have been crafting the finest bourbons for over 200 years, with secret recipes and generations of methods.
The Bourbon Trail was formed in 1999 to give visitors a first hand look at the science and the art of crafting the Bourbon. Also, with a purpose, to educate about the rich history and proud traditions of the spirit. Millions of visitors from all 50 states and 25 countries have traveled the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.
Buffalo Trace Distillery 502-696-5926 Open year round 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays. Tours on the hour.
Four Roses Distillery 502-839-3436 24 miles west of Lexington. Tours given Monday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The distillery stops Bourbon production in the summer months.
Town Branch Distillery 859-255-2337 Alltech's new $9.2 million distillery on the edge of the Distillery District is the first to be built in Lexington in nearly 100 years. This new Kentucky bourbon is called Town Branch Bourbon. Open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and Noon to 4 p.m. on Sundays.
Wild Turkey Distillery 502-839-4544 23 miles west of Lexington. Tours given at 9 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Open year-round, except for holidays, the first week of January and the last two weeks of July.
Woodford Reserve Distillery 859-879-1812 21 miles from Lexington. Open year-round Monday through Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Open Sundays 12:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m. April through October. Tour times 10 a.m.,11a.m., noon, 1 p.m., 2 p.m., and 3 p.m. Tours on Sundays at 1, 2 and 3 p.m. April through October only. By reservation only: "Corn to Cork" tour at 9:30 a.m. or the "National Landmark" tour at 11:30 am. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.