Bourbon in the Bluegrass State
In Kentucky, bourbon is a way of life. From distillery tours and classes, restaurants cleverly infusing bourbon into their dishes, festivals and events, to hitting the Kentucky Bourbon Trail™, whether you’re new to bourbon or an aficionado, there’s an experience for everyone to enjoy.
What is Bourbon?
We’d best just check that you know the difference between whiskey and bourbon, as they are easily confused! For the unassuming eye, you may not think the two are very different. And just to add to the matter, if you just refer to bourbon as whiskey, you wouldn’t be wrong – bourbon is a class of whiskey, similar to how champagne is a class of wine. Therefore all bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon. Is it time for bourbon yet?
What makes bourbon different from other whiskeys is the way it is aged and manufactured. Whiskey is a spirit made from fermented grain that is then aged in barrels. To be classified as bourbon, a whiskey needs to be distilled from a mixture of grains that is at least 51% corn. This is what makes bourbon taste sweet. A staggering 95% of the world’s bourbon is made in Kentucky. On its way to becoming bourbon, Kentucky’s water flows through limestone reserves. Along with fertile soil for growing corn and other ingredients, plus an ideal climate, Kentucky is the perfect destination for bourbon-making.
To buff up further ahead of your trip to Kentucky, visit the ‘Bourbon 101’ section at KentuckyTourism.com, here: https://www.kentuckytourism.com/bourbon/kentucky-bourbon-facts.
Distilleries and Attractions
Many of Kentucky’s nearly 70 distilleries offer tours and tastings, each one of them a unique experience that will stay with you forever. Take a hard hat tour at Buffalo Trace to see everything from cooking and fermentation to distilling up close. Hand-dip your own bottle of Maker’s Mark in the distillery’s famous red wax. Or taste bourbon straight from the barrel and partake in a curated cocktail class at Bardstown Bourbon Company, one of Kentucky’s latest and most technologically advanced distilleries. In fact, Bardstown is home to many of the distinguished world-famous distilleries in Kentucky, with many offering complimentary tours, allowing you to discover the craftsmanship behind the state’s signature spirit.
Kentucky Bourbon Trail™
Of course, you can’t come to Kentucky and not hit the Kentucky Bourbon Trail™. Four trails, in particular, take travellers on their merry way to the most hallowed distilleries and bourbon bars in the nation. On these tours, you will meet master distillers, share a glass with fellow bourbon lovers, and learn the stories behind your favourite bottles. Excitingly, visitors can have their ‘passport’ stamped and stamps redeemed for swag.
Also, know that you can cycle the Kentucky Bourbon Trail™! Nine distilleries have teamed up with the Kentucky Distillers’ Association to create the Kentucky Bourbon Trail™. Considering central Kentucky’s offering of rolling green hills and scenic views of Thoroughbred horse farms, the bike is a great way to explore, and you’re certainly not going to forget this trip in a hurry (or perhaps you will, depending on how much bourbon you drink!).