Kentucky’s Louisville is one of the great sporting centers of the American South. The Kentucky Derby, the Louisville Cardinals and Muhammad Ali are widely recognized names from the city. But so too are some of the city’s great food and beverage offerings, not least of all is The Colonel’s famous fried chicken. Meanwhile Bardstown, just outside of Louisville, is home to the yearly Kentucky Bourbon Festival because around a quarter to a third of all bourbon whiskey is made in Louisville and its environs. Which is why Louisville’s Bourbon Trail tours are extremely popular with visitors to the ‘Ville’.
Most of the bourbon distillery tours in Louisville depart from the city center and offer the opportunity to learn about the whiskey making process. And of course, it’d be no fun if there weren’t plenty of opportunities to sample the end product along the way. Which really is the only reason one needs to let somebody else take care of the guiding and driving on a tour. The following list offers a broad overview of the best bourbon tours available from Louisville in terms of the price, itinerary, uniqueness of the experience and the reviews of previous participants.
FROM: $67/per person
When in Kentucky, two things stand out more than anything else for visitors: bourbon whiskey and horses. This tour is designed to ensure you’ll get to learn all about both. First your guide will lead you to two distilleries, choosing from among a plethora of household names like Wild Turkey and Woodford Reserve. Learn about the history and production of the hallowed liquor and taste a few of the distillery’s finest tipples. Finally, head to a horse farm where thoroughbreds are raised, many of which will go on to race at the Kentucky Derby or further afield.
From $97/ per person
The Spirit of Kentucky is a must-see permanent exhibition at the Frazier History Museum in Louisville. Not only is entry to the Smithsonian-affiliate included in the price, but this tour also includes a trip to a distillery along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail where you can have three tastings. Transport between the two is provided by coach, where the driver will provide a sightseeing tour of Louisville along the way. As with all tours on this list, the minimum drinking age is 21. It is also worth spending time at the Frazier Museum after your tour ends to explore the other excellent exhibitions, including one dedicated to the Lewis and Clark expedition. This tour does not run on Thursday or Saturday.
From $530/ per group
For smaller groups of up to six people who would prefer to focus more on the sampling of bourbon whiskey, then this tour might be the most fun way to do it. The three-hour bar crawl, with transport in between provided by motorized tuk-tuk, follows Louisville’s Urban Bourbon Trail in search of the city’s finest bourbon and the best bars specializing in its mixology. You’ll also find out about the best nightlife spots in the city, so that there’s somewhere good to head once the tour is over. This tour runs from Wednesday to Sunday each week.