A Wild Ride in Kentucky

Out of all the places in the world, Kentucky holds a special place in my heart.  The horses at Keeneland, the Hot Browns, and the delicious beers have a bit to do with this obsession.  But… my husband’s proposal to marry me is the cherry on this cake!  I’ll share these lovey-dovey pictures and then I’ll get on with my top 3 Bourbon distilleries.



Now on to the Bourbon…


#3 – Woodford Reserve

My husband often says, “If a Colorado ski lodge and Apple had a baby, it would be Woodford Reserve.”  When you walk in, it feels warm and cozy, but also established and more technologically advanced than nearby distilleries.  The tour takes place partially on a charter bus and partially by foot.  Each person on the tour is given an individual set of headphones and speaker, so that you can hear the guide from wherever you are.  This was an educational tour from start to finish.  Speaking of finish, the tour concluded with a tasting lesson.  Each person went into their quaint tasting room and was given a few chocolates and a few Bourbon samples.  The chocolates were locally-made and assisted us with arriving to each specific note of the Bourbon.  My recommendation for Woodford is to go during an off-time so that it won’t be too crowded.
Tour cost: $14/person


#2 – Alltech Lexington Brewing and Distilling (Town Branch Distillery/Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale)

This was the smallest and least known of the distilleries that we had visited, although we had known about it for quite some time.  Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale has always been one of my favorite beers (my shameless plug: follow me on Untappd @maecassel).  Needless to say, my husband and I were very excited to find out that the tour included both the brewery and distillery.  This was a very fun and interactive tour.  The groups were small which allowed us to ask questions and chat with the employees.  The tasting was also plentiful, as we had 4 tokens that we could spend on sampling the beers or Bourbons.  The only downside is that they did not have a tasting room to continue our day-drinking.  😉
Tour cost: $10/person


#1 – Buffalo Trace

Yes, this is where I got engaged.  And yes, this makes me love it even more.  But… even if I hadn’t had a significant life event happen here, it would still be #1 on my list.  As you drive into Buffalo Trace, imagine being transported back to the 1800s.  Perhaps it’s because they claim to be the oldest operating distillery in America.  This was the most fun tour that we had on our trip!  Our tour guide, J.W., really made it!  He was animated and informative the entire time.  The tasting was great and was held in a beautiful bar atop their facility.  We also enjoyed that we were able to walk around the facility after the tour, which is not typical of other distilleries.  If you only get to visit a few distilleries while in Kentucky, I highly recommend visiting Buffalo Trace.
Tour cost: complimentary


Please feel free to comment below with Kentucky distilleries that you’ve enjoyed.  I’d love hearing about them and taking a visit next time we’re there!




9 thoughts on “A Wild Ride in Kentucky

    1. Hi Brian, good catch! I’ve changed it to show that Buffalo is definitely my #1. The amount of history that is embedded in their distillery is fascinating. I loved seeing the prescriptions for toothaches that prescribed Bourbon during Prohibition in their museum/gift shop. The whole place has a cool vibe to it, and it doesn’t hurt that their Bourbon is great too!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. First, as a Kentucky native, I love everything about this post. Second, the two distilleries I often recommend to out of staters and bourbon lovers alike is Woodford Reserve (it’s the most comprehensive and it’s in the middle of a beautiful horse farm) and Maker’s Mark (also beautiful, though somewhat in the middle of nowhere, AND you can dip your own bottle). Outside of those you’ve already mentioned, I’ve also been to Wild Turkey (they have a newish tasting room), Four Roses (they give FULL pours for their tasting), Jim Beam (probably my favorite tasting as they really let you try a bunch of different bourbons from their long line of options), and Heaven Hill (if you have time). I like to break up the tours between two days (if you can) and hit the Lexington/Frankfort area one day and the Louisville/Bardstown area the next. I’ve hit Four Roses, Woodford Reserve, Maker’s Mark, and Jim Beam all in one day, but it’s an early start and a lot of drive time.

    If you have the chance to go around Derby weekend, I recommend it. The lines are longer at all the spots, but there’s also (usually) more entertainment along the way (like a full bluegrass band at Maker’s Mark & food trucks). One year I went with some friends and there was a huge open bar party.

    Kentucky Bourbon Ale is one of my favorite beers (though I kinda prefer their stout). If you’re a ginger ale drinker, Ale 8 One is a must find. It’s, hands down, the best ginger ale out there (also highly caffeinated). If you’re lunching at Woodford Reserve, I recommend grabbing an Ale 8 One instead of a coke or with your water!


    1. Your comment just made my morning! I feel like I need to jump in the car and head to Kentucky to try out all of your recommendations! We have not been able to make it to Maker’s yet but are dying to go! Now it’s a must! We also haven’t been to Heaven Hill so I will definitely add that on our list! We usually visit Kentucky during Keeneland but we will definitely have to make a trip for Derby weekend! It sounds like a blast at the distilleries and the Kentucky Derby is on my bucket list! We will also make sure to try an Ale 8 ginger beer – it sounds great! We had the chance to stop by a few breweries on our last visit (Ethereal, Blue Stallion, Country Boy) – they were all great! Thank you again for taking the time to write out these suggestions! I really appreciate it and can’t wait to try it all out!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You bet. I’ve been to the Derby a number of times, and it’s a really great event. The whole week leading up to the Derby is also pretty great – there’s Thunder Over Louisville (the largest fireworks display in North America), a steamboat race, a hot air balloon race, etc. I’d actually recommend checking out the fireworks display if you can. And, if you go for the Derby…hotels are crazy expensive and get booked WAY in advance. So, it might be worthwhile to stay in a nearby city to save some money (especially if you have a car). From a food perspective – I’d also recommend some derby pie (it’s basically pecan pie but with bourbon & chocolate) and a hot brown (open faced turkey sandwich with bacon, tomatoes, and mornay sauce). Yum…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That all sounds wonderful! I’ve tried a derby pie and hot brown but I’m sure they taste THAT much better during the Derby! I will have to check all of that out when we visit next! Thank you again!!


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