We’ve known for some time that the Frazier History Museum was to become the home base of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, but Wednesday morning at a press conference, plans and partnerships were revealed that spelled out exactly what that means for tourists and residents alike.
Staff from the museum, Kentucky Distillers’ Association (KDA) and Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau, the mayor, some of the bourbon industry’s top distillers and representatives, and the media gathered in front of the West Main Street museum as plans for the official “Kentucky Bourbon Trail Welcome Center & Exhibit” were revealed on large cardboard renderings.
An interactive, state-of-the-art bourbon exhibition is in the works, and an open space between the Frazier Museum and its new adjoining building will become the museum’s new entrance and serve as a sort of “bourbon concierge” for tourists looking for KBT passports, information and advice.
The entrance will have two levels, with a park on the upper level, and open to both West Main and Washington streets. Frazier sits in the center of the city’s Bourbon District.
“The popularity of bourbon is a big reason our economy is experiencing such tremendous growth right now,” said Mayor Greg Fischer. “This Kentucky Bourbon Trail Welcome Center will help us keep that momentum going by bringing even more people to Louisville and beyond. And I think we’re just getting started.”
To help with the exhibit and Welcome Center, Frazier is partnering with the KDA, which created the Kentucky Bourbon Trail and Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour. KDA president Eric Gregory said the partnership would help tourists.
“We get dozens of calls every day from visitors around the world who are planning their Kentucky Bourbon Trail journey and asking where to start,” said Gregory. “Now, we’ll have the perfect answer. It’s been two years in the making, and we’re proud and honored to be part of this historic partnership with the Frazier.”
So why Louisville and not other cities known for bourbon distilleries, like Bardstown or Frankfort? Because when all the construction dust settles in a year or two, there will be 11 distillery experiences open in Louisville — the most of any city in Kentucky.
Last year, visitors made more than one million stops to Bourbon Trail distilleries, which is an all-time high for the experience since its founding in 1999.
It was quite a thrill (especially for a bourbon nerd like me) to walk up to a press conference and see Bill Samuels of Maker’s Mark chatting with Joyce Nethery of the new Jeptha Creed Distillery, or Corky Taylor of Peerless Distilling standing next to Kyle Henderson of Angel’s Envy.
Because, as anyone in the bourbon industry can tell you, it’s more about camaraderie than competition.
“A rising tide lifts all boats,” noted Gregory.
At the end of the conference, a new banner was revealed that touts the Frazier Museum’s new motto: Where the world meets Kentucky.
The new Welcome Center and exhibit are scheduled to be open in August of 2018.
Here’s a look at more photos from the press conference: