A couple of weeks ago I got to live the dream. Long story short, I found myself driving across country and decided to veer a little off course and hit the Bourbon Trail. There are 11 “big” or signature distilleries to hit with the added value of 14 craft distilleries along the way. Of the 25 in the passport I was able to hit the 11 signature and 7 of the craft. In 3 days. It was awesome. My buddy Mike joined me just for the Bourbon Trail which set it over the top!
Now, just a few caveats about my 18 distilleries in 3 days:
- The only tour I actually wanted to take was Buffalo Trace, however the day I was able to visit the tour wasn’t an option so I settled for a tasting. I get how the sausage is made so wasn’t interested in walking through all that at each place. What I did find interesting was asking “so what makes your stuff different?” It usually boiled down to variations on percentage of corn versus other and how they rotate their barrels, etc.
- I didn’t taste at each one, calm down mom. My main objectives were to check the place out, take some pictures, get my “passport” stamped and buy something that I couldn’t find at my local shop. I found I mainly did the tastings at the craft distilleries since they had such a different spirit compared to the behemoth “signature” ones (think Jim Beam, Wild Turkey, etc.) I’m a sucker for the craft spirit and it’s awesome no matter where I go.
- I really only had 2 1/2 days to get through it so I was on the move. I had to be back in San Diego by a certain day and to get through it all and home on time I couldn’t delay. So at many of the big guys I visited I would just come in, snag something special from the store, get a stamp on my Bourbon Trail Passport, take some pictures, then on my way.
As a side note, the Google Maps functionality of “Add Stop” is amazing. It allowed me to load up the 8-10 spots I wanted to hit each day and organize them in a way that is the most efficient. Was really cool and made for the most optimal driving experience so we never spent more than 35 minutes in the car along the way.
I’ll be posting over the next few weeks about the stops that I took, but here are the distilleries I was able to visit and above is the map showing the route I took. Black = Signature, Purple = Craft.
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- Woodford Reserve*
- Wild Turkey*
- Four Roses*
- Limestone Distillery
- Maker’s Mark*
- Willett Distillery
- Heaven Hill*
- Barton’s 1792
- Jim Beam*
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*Signature Distillery = have to visit to complete the “Bourbon Trail”
Not sure I would have done it any differently except to maybe take a week to do it and possibly start in Louisville and work backwards as the cooler properties were definitely more towards the East…was a pretty amazing few days and I highly recommend!