It’s always great when friends and family gather for the holidays, but sometimes you need to get out of the house and find something to do. Louisville has a wealth of tourist attractions, from the Muhammad Ali Center to the Louisville Slugger Museum. It’s also a great place to learn about bourbon. In the years since I started my career as a whiskey writer, Louisville has grown to include multiple distilleries, but that’s not even all the bourbon tourism Louisville has to offer. Here are some places to check out and things to do while you have out of town guests this winter:
- The Frazier History Museum. It’s the new official welcome center for the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, and there’s a great exhibit upstairs all about the historical and agricultural side of the bourbon industry. Don’t forget to take a photo in the bourbon room!
- The Evan Williams Bourbon Experience. This was the first of the distillery tour experiences to open along Whiskey Row, and the tour mixes Louisville history with bourbon history in a way that is entertaining for even those who aren’t that into bourbon.
- Old Forester at Whiskey Row. It took years of setbacks, but Old Forester is finally home in Louisville’s historic Whiskey Row, what was once the “Wall Street of Bourbon” as Fred Minnick once put it. This is the only distillery in the United States where you can see barrels being charred on site!
- Mint Julep Tours. If you want to spend a day on the bourbon trail, Mint Julep Tours will pick you up at The Galt House and do all the driving. You can even throw a cooperage or a Thoroughbred horse farm into the mix!
- Copper & Kings. It’s a brandy distillery right in the heart of bourbon country, but they are making brandy for bourbon lovers. Take a tour and fill your own bottle from their “Single Barrel Socialism” project. Stop by the gorgeous rooftop bar ALEX&DER for a cocktail and take in the best view of Louisville anywhere.
- Kentucky Peerless. Shortly after retiring, Corky Taylor decided he wanted to go back to work and resurrect his family’s bourbon business. A few short years later Kentucky Peerless is making some of the best rye whiskey on the market. Take a tour of this gorgeous facility in an old tobacco warehouse and pick up a bottle of their latest release, a 3-year-old small batch.
- Art Eatables. This is one of my favorite places in town because they combine two of my favorite things – bourbon and chocolate. Pick up some handcrafted bourbon truffles or any of the other local wares they sell in their two shops, one right next door to The Frazier Museum and the other on Fourth Street.
- The Urban Bourbon Trail. You can get a passport, stop by a few places for a cocktail or a bite, and then send in your passport for a commemorative t-shirt.
- Angel’s Envy Distillery. Lincoln Henderson was best known for being the father of Woodford Reserve prior to retirement, but after retirement he founded Angel’s Envy along with his son and grandsons, who run the family business today.
- Rabbit Hole Distillery. Named for founder Kaveh Zamanian’s foray down the rabbit hole and into the bourbon industry, this beautifully designed distillery is a must-see.
- The Jim Beam Urban Stillhouse. Stop by and take a cocktail class with your group and learn all about classics like the whiskey sour.
- Stitzel-Weller Distillery. Now the homeplace of brands like Blade&Bow and I.W. Harper, this iconic distillery was originally opened by Julian P. “Pappy” Van Winkle shortly after the end of Prohibition.
- Locust Grove. This historic home has hosted dignitaries from all over the world. It’s also a great place to learn about historic distillation methods that would have been used on the frontier days of Kentucky.
- Kentucky Artisan Distillery. Close to the folks in the East End, this distillery is home to numerous brands including Jefferson’s Reserve. Stop by and see the original Old Forester still from just after Prohibition.
- Bourbon Barrel Foods. This is a one-stop shop for all things bourbon barrel aged and smoked, from salt to soy sauce.
Photos Courtesy of Maggie Kimberl