Which distilleries are the best in Kentucky? And who offers the best tours on the bourbon trail? Here are the three best (major) bourbon distilleries; they are absolutely worth your time!
Not too long ago my best friend and I did a trip where we visited every stop on the official Kentucky Bourbon Trail. It is not too difficult to do every stop. But instead of writing about all of them, I really want to help you narrow down the best of the Kentucky bourbon distilleries, the ones you absolutely do not want to miss!
So…Here are the 3 Best Distilleries on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail:
Picking number 1 and 2 was a no brainer but number three was tricky. I chose Bulleit as the third best distillery on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail because I legitimately enjoyed the tour. I thought the rickhouses were cool and it was fun being shown the process of making barrels. However, they don't actually make the bourbon at their facility (it is shipped in from Indiana and then aged at Bulleit) so I struggled with whether or not to put it on the list. But clearly I did, and here it sits at number 3.
2. Woodford Reserve
I put Woodford Reserve at number two but it easily could have been number one (you will have to keep reading/scrolling to see the actual number one!) The facilities of this distillery are stunning! Woodford Reserve has gorgeous stone work and lovely grounds; it actually feels a bit like you are on a tour in Scotland. The tour begins with a comprehensive walk through their distillation process (and each stage is done in such lovely facilities....especially the copper stills they use!). One of my favorite parts was seeing the barrels being rolled along a little trackway from filling to the rickhouse for aging. After the tour you are taken to the visitor center where you receive a solid lesson in tasting, complete with a bourbon ball...and hopefully a song if you happen to get the same guide I did! It really was a lovely experience and I for sure recommend doing this tour!
1. Makers Mark
Makers Mark and Woodford Reserve are almost interchangeable as the top two. Makers Mark edged out Woodford Reserve by just a little bit because it's location is absolutely stunning (though Woodford Reserve is very beautiful as well). To get to Makers Mark you have to drive a bit out of the way (in comparison to the rest of the trail) but as you approach you will drop down into a lovely valley which leads you to the visitors center. I was there in the fall and the leaves were turning...it was stunning! The tour is comprehensive and you see the actual distilling process (unlike some of the other distilleries). Makers Mark keeps their product numbers low which allows them to really focus on just doing a few things well. And they do. The tour guide I had was funny and engaging. The ability to watch them dip the bottles into the signature red wax was mesmerizing, and having the Chihuly glass on exhibit only added to the magic of the experience. As part of the highly recommended tour they offer a solid tasting complete with a bourbon ball before sending you into the gift shop. Plus, in the gift shop they allow you to dip your own bottle (if you purchase one there), which as someone who really likes Makers Mark it felt like a super fun win!
Have you been to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail? What were your favorite distilleries? And which tours were your favorite? Let me know in the comments section!