SPRINGFIELD, Ky. -- Kentucky's Bourbon Trail welcomes visitors from
around the world each year to sample a tradition.
The Rev. Elijah Craig has been credited with developing bourbon
whiskey in Georgetown, Ky., in 1789.
The tradition lives on in a collection of seven distilleries in
the region between Lexington and Louisville, in the mid-section of
the state called the Bourbon Trail.
During the past three decades, while consumption of distilled
spirits in general has declined, according to the Kentucky
Distillers' Association, the demand for Kentucky bourbon has
In order to be called bourbon, the whiskey must contain at least
51% corn and be stored two years in new, white oak barrels with a
The distilleries along the Bourbon Trail follow these rules to
produce premium bourbon.
The distilleries are Heaven Hill Distilleries, Jim Beam American
Outpost, Maker's Mark Distillery, Seagram's Four Roses Distillery,
Buffalo Trace Distillery, Labrot & Graham and Wild Turkey.
Following is a sampling of what visitors might expect to find at
each of the venues:Heaven Hill was founded shortly after Prohibition and today is
the second-largest supplier of bourbon in the world.
Tours include visiting the warehouse, where about 600,000
barrels of bourbon are aging, and the "dump room," where the aged
bourbon bottles are opened and emptied.Jim Beam offers exhibits of the bourbon-making process from
start to finish. Visitors to the grounds are invited to view the T.
Jeremiah Beam home, restored to its 1911 originality, and learn the
art of barrel-making.
The distillery also shows a film, "The American Spirit," which
details the history of the Beam family and the essence of making
bourbon.Maker's Mark was established in 1805 as a gristmill and
distillery. It is the nation's oldest working distillery on its
original site and the only distillery to be named a National
Visitors get to hand-dip their own bottle of bourbon in warm red
wax, a Maker's Mark trademark, when making a purchase at the gift
shop.Tours at Four Roses are given by appointment only and start in
the grain silo, where visitors are introduced to the various grains
used in making bourbon.
The master distiller, who uses up to 10 different recipes to
make the bourbon, shows guests the entire process.At Buffalo Trace, visitors are introduced to the original
procedure for producing single-barrel bourbon, which began in 1983
and continues today.
Guests also can take in lunch at the clubhouse and walk the
grounds of the distillery.Labrot & Graham has been restored to its former 1800s glory
and reopened to the public with a new visitors center and a gift
Guests will see bourbon being distilled in old-fashioned
copper-pot stills at the only distillery in the U.S. still using
this method.Kentucky Bourbon has been distilled, aged and bottled at Wild
Turkey for generations.
The tours follow the grain on its course from inspection to
Kentucky Distillers' Association
Phone: (606) 336-9612
Fax: (606) 336-9613
E-mail: [email protected]