I get a lot of questions about bourbon at work. In the hopes of saving myself some effort, I am putting some answers to common questions up here on the blog. That way, if you have been referred to here from my work, you can get a more in-depth answer than I could likely give you at the bar.
WHERE ARE THE BOURBON DISTILLERIES?
There have been a couple of people, over the last 3 months, who have asked me where to visit during a quick stop in Kentucky. Basically, if you're travelling to Kentucky, you're probably going to Northern Kentucky (near Cincinatti), Louisville, or my old hometown of Lexington. For Northern Kentucky, you're about equidistant from Lexington. Here are some good places to check out.
WOODFORD RESERVE -- only about 20 minutes from Lexington, in scenic Woodford County, is Woodford Reserve. They don't actually make a lot of whiskey here; it's really more a tourist destination. They tour is pretty great and they have lengthier tours in certain months you can reserve. Definitely a great introduction to bourbon, just like the whiskey itself.
LAWRENCEBURG - about 40 minutes west of Lexington, Lawrenceburg is home to both Four Roses and Wild Turkey. I haven't been back to Wild Turkey since they opened their newly renovated distillery, but I hear it is great. Four Roses has a very nice tour during the on-season, but is nothing special during the summer.
BUFFALO TRACE -- The Buffalo Trace distillery in Frankfort is probably the best distillery overall to visit; they give you a very thorough tour even off-season, and their hard hat tour (which requires calling ahead for reservations) is fantastic. Plus they experiment a lot, which gives you the chance to see some interesting upcoming products, and they let you try both their standard whiskies and their white dog, which is pretty educational. It's halfway between Lexington and Louisville, too.
BARDSTOWN -- Bardstown gives you access to the Bardstown Bourbon Cultural Something or Other (really the Heaven Hill bottling plant and warehouses, which have a great behind the scenes reservation-requiring tour that shows you a lot of the bottling and production end you don't see elsewhere). Bardstown is also the home of Barton distilleries, which only recently has started running tours. Right next to Bardstown is Loretto, home of Maker's Mark and one of the nicest-looking distilleries.
LOUISVILLE -- Go a bit south of Louisville and you can visit Jim Beam's big operation. I haven't been there for years, so I'm not sure what they offer for premium tours.