In 1999, the Kentucky Distillers’ Association developed a tourism-driven experience that would highlight the many bourbon distilleries that dot the Kentucky landscape.

The official Kentucky Bourbon Trail was formed, and now millions of people from near and far flock to the bluegrass state for a taste of history, tradition and innovation. 

In fact, in the last few years, more than 2.5 million visitors from all over the world have traveled to Kentucky to step foot on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail and experience America’s only native spirit

Kentucky Bourbon Trail map
The Kentucky Bourbon Trail map | Courtesy of Kentucky Distillers’ Association

As you visit each distillery, you can pick up a Kentucky Bourbon Trail Passport and collect stamps as you go. The handy booklet also provides some info about each place. There’s also a Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour, which features some of the smaller distilleries in the state. 

As someone who has spent a fair share of her time on the trail — as a bourbon writer and tour guide — I have a few helpful hints to share if you’re planning a future visit. I also will include a list here of some of the bigger distilleries in the state and what brands each makes. 

Tips

The most important thing to realize is you can’t do it all in one day. Some of these distilleries are hours apart, and booking a tour at your desired timeslot is hard to do. It’s best to pick and choose a handful of must-see places, and then go from there. 

There are several options if you’d rather go through a designated tour company, and most of those are based in Louisville, which is also home to more than eight distilleries alone. The company I work for, which has been in business 12 years, is Mint Julep Experiences, and there are a handful of others in town as well. 

Most of these will customize your itinerary to your liking and even book the tours for you. Plus, you don’t have to worry about driving, parking or getting lost on the long and winding Kentucky backroads. 

Jeptha Creed Distillery
You’ll find this cozy room at Jeptha Creed Distillery. | Photo by Sara Havens

Some distilleries have a bar where you can enjoy samples or cocktails while you wait, and all distilleries have giftshops where you can purchase bottles, T-shirts and other memorabilia. In fact, most bourbon tours include a few product samples, so plan accordingly if you choose to drive on your own. 

Sometimes dogs are allowed and sometimes not. The same goes for children. So it’s best to check before showing up with either.

Sips

Here is a list of most of the distilleries on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail and the brands each produces. With all the bourbons out there, it’s sometimes difficult to figure out who makes what, so hopefully this simplified list will help.

Also, it’s worth noting that the Sazerac-owned Buffalo Trace Distillery and Barton 1792 Distillery are not technically an official part of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail — which is why you won’t find them on the passport — but since they’re a huge part of bourbon tourism, they are included here. 

BARDSTOWN/SOUTH

Bardstown Bourbon Co. 

  • Fusion Series
  • Discovery Series
  • Collaborative Series

Barton 1792

  • 1792
  • Thomas S. Moore
  • Kentucky Tavern
  • Kentucky Gentleman 
  • Very Old Barton

Heaven Hill

  • Larceny
  • Elijah Craig
  • Pikesville Rye
  • Bernheim Wheat
  • Rittenhouse Rye
  • Parker’s Heritage
  • Old Fitzgerald
  • Henry McKenna
  • Mellow Corn
  • JTS Brown

Jim Beam

  • Jim Beam
  • Booker’s
  • Baker’s
  • Knob Creek
  • Basil Hayden
  • Little Book
  • Old Grand-Dad
  • Old Overholt

Limestone Branch

  • Yellowstone
  • Minor Case Rye

Maker’s Mark

  • Maker’s Mark
  • Maker’s 46

Preservation 

  • Very Olde St. Nick
  • Wattie Boone & Sons 
  • Cowboy Little Barrel

Wilderness Trail

  • Wilderness Trail

Willett

  • Willett
  • Willett Family Estate
  • Old Bardstown
  • Noah’s Mill
  • Rowan’s Creek
  • Johnny Drum
  • Pure Kentucky

SHELBYVILLE/FRANKFORT/LAWRENCEBURG

Buffalo Trace

  • Buffalo Trace
  • Blanton’s
  • Elmer T. Lee
  • E.H. Taylor
  • Eagle Rare
  • Pappy Van Winkle
  • W.L. Weller
  • Sazerac
  • George T. Stagg
  • Stagg Jr.
  • Thomas H. Handy
  • Rock Hill Farms
  • Hancock’s Reserve
  • Early Times
  • Benchmark

Bulleit

  • Bulleit
  • Blade & Bow

Four Roses

  • Four Roses

Jeptha Creed

  • Jeptha Creed
  • Bloody Butcher’s Creed

Wild Turkey

  • Wild Turkey
  • Russell’s Reserve
  • Rare Breed
  • Kentucky Spirit
  • Long Branch
  • Legent

LEXINGTON/VERSAILLES 

Castle & Key

  • Restoration Rye 

James E. Pepper

  • James E. Pepper

Lexington Brewing & Distilling Co. 

  • Town Branch 
  • Pearse Lyons Reserve

Woodford Reserve

  • Woodford Reserve

LOUISVILLE

Angel’s Envy

  • Angel’s Envy Bourbon
  • Angel’s Envy Cellar Collection

Evan Williams

  • Evan Williams

Kentucky Artisan Distillery

  • Jefferson’s
  • Billy Goat Strut
  • Whiskey Row

Kentucky Peerless

  • Peerless

Michter’s

  • Michter’s
  • Bomberger’s
  • Shenk’s

Old Forester

  • Old Forester

Rabbit Hole

  • Rabbit Hole

Stitzel-Weller

  • Blade & Bow

NORTHERN KENTUCKY

Boone County Distilling

  • Boone County
  • Eighteen 33 Bourbon

New Riff

  • New Riff

Old Pogue

  • Old Pogue 

OWENSBORO/ETC.

Green River

  • Green River

M.B. Roland

  • M.B. Roland

2 thoughts on “A journey along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail: Who makes what?

  1. Avatar
    Kristofer Van Wagner says:

    Hey Sara, I appreciate that this post mentioned that it is important for us to plan our trips properly to prevent hiccups. My wife and I are looking to go on a trip to celebrate our anniversary. I will definitely look at planning the trip with a tour guide to ensure we never miss anything out.

  2. Sara Havens
    Sara Havens says:

    You’ll have a much better time planning ahead. I can’t tell you how many distilleries sell out of tour tickets weeks in advance. It’s crazy! Going through a tour company — like Mint Julep Tours or any others — ensures your tickets will be booked.

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