A whopping 95 percent of all bourbon is made in Kentucky, but its appeal goes well beyond the Commonwealth’s borders. Over the past decade, high-end and super premium brands have driven huge growth in sales in America and given rise to the bourbon bar in cities across the country. There’s also been a major boost in international sales, with bourbon regularly at the top of the list of U.S. liquor exports. It’s no surprise that people want to come see the top distilleries where bourbon is produced and learn about its history and culture in Kentucky.
With more than 1.2 million visits last year, the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® and Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour® are already popular with bourbon lovers from around the world, because the full adventure covers hundreds of miles, it can be hard to know where to begin even if you’re a Kentucky native.
By the end of August 2018, through a partnership with the Kentucky Distillers’ Association, bourbon lovers get the guidance and information they need at the Frazier History Museum in Louisville, Kentucky. The popular downtown attraction at 829 W. Main Street has been undergoing a major renovation that includes the new Kentucky Bourbon Trail® Welcome Center on the first floor of the museum and a rooftop garden and park by Kentucky-born landscape artist Jon Carloftis.
“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 KDA President Eric Gregory. “Now, we’ll have the perfect answer: the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® Welcome Center at the Frazier History Museum.”
The KBT Welcome Center, which offers free admission to the general public, will serve as the official starting point for visitors who want help planning their trips around Kentucky to visit one or all of the 14 distilleries on the KBT tour or the 14 distilleries on the KBTCT. A concierge at the center’s front desk will help guests in planning their adventure and in guiding people to the best of Louisville for food, drink and fun.
The opening of the welcome center also marks the launch of the Spirit of Kentucky®, a permanent exhibit showcasing Kentucky-made bourbon that visitors can experience with the regular price of museum admission. Located on the third floor of the museum, the exhibition includes three rooms, each one dedicated to a different aspect of the industry. “Enchanted” will highlight the natural resources that make Kentucky the perfect place to make Bourbon, and display replicas of river paddle boats, vintage plows and other farm equipment, and, of course, the fabled oak barrels used for aging bourbon.
“Refined” will bring to light the impact of bourbon on pop culture and explore the craft of making the perfect cocktail (known to highbrow drinkers as mixology). “Gracious” opens a window into the culture of the people who own and operate Kentucky’s distilleries and comes complete with a touch screen display offering information about all things bourbon. And Be sure to bring your selfie stick to grab a pic of you and your friends in front of the enormous bottle collection that includes every single brand of bourbon currently being produced in Kentucky.
Whether visitors explore the rich history of distilleries on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail®, some dating back more than 200 years, or discover the innovative, artisan approach found in the micro distilleries of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour®, the Kentucky Bourbon Trail®, Welcome Center and the Spirit of Kentucky® exhibition promises to enhance the experience, providing guests with the best experience from start to finish.
“With the launch of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® Welcome Center and Spirit of Kentucky exhibition, we at the Frazier want to spotlight Kentucky as the one, true home of bourbon whiskey — America’s only native spirit,” notes Frazier President Penny Peavler.
The KBT® tour includes:
Angel’s Envy, Louisville — Bardstown Bourbon Company, Bardstown — Bulleit’s Stitzel-Weller Distillery, Louisville — Four Roses, Lawrenceburg and Cox’s Creek — Heaven Hill Bourbon Heritage Center in Bardstown — Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, Louisville — Jim Beam in Clermont and Louisville — Lux Row, Bardstown — Maker’s Mark, Loretto — Old Forester, Louisville — O.Z. Tyler, Owensboro — Town Branch, Lexington — Wild Turkey, Lawrenceburg — Woodford Reserve, Versailles
KBTCT members are:
Barrel House and Bluegrass Distillers in Lexington — Boone County Distilling, Richwood — Corsair, Bowling Green — Hartfield & Co., Paris — Jeptha Creed, Shelbyville — Kentucky Artisan, Crestwood — Kentucky Peerless, Louisville — Limestone Branch, Lebanon — MB Roland, Pembroke — New Riff, Newport — Old Pogue, Maysville — Wilderness Trail, Danville — Willett, Bardstown
Visit the Frazier History Museum at 829 W. Main St., Louisville, Kentucky 40202, or find out more about the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Welcome Center and Spirit of Kentucky exhibition at FRAZIERMUSEUM.ORG