Making the Rounds: 9 Distilleries within a 45 minute drive of Lexington
Written by Tim Knittel
The Bluegrass boasts an embarrassment of riches as far as places to appropriately celebrate bourbon culture. Below, we’ve identified 9 great distilleries within a 45-minute drive of Lexington. Most distillery tours leave on the hour every hour from the time the Visitors Center opens until one hour before close; it’s always a good idea to check with the distillery before heading out.
Tips for Getting the Most from Your Distillery Visits
• Always double-check hours and tour timing with the distilleries you’re planning to visit –some distilleries have seasonal hours and most are closed on major holidays. Craft distilleries are especially likely to change their hours.
• If possible, secure your tour tickets in advance either through the distillery’s website or by calling.
• Be sure to pad your timing for early arrival and for some gift shop time after the tour – plan to arrive at least 15 minutes ahead and stay up to 30 minutes after.
• If you want to leave the details to someone else, consider traveling with a professional tour company. Mint Julep Tours offers public, private and custom guided Kentucky Bourbon Trail trips.
• Dress appropriately – you’ll likely be walking a lot, so comfortable shoes are a must. Some distilleries require close-toed shoes for certain tours. And you’ll be switching between inside and out frequently so consider layering.
• Ask questions! The tour guides love to talk about their bourbon (and sometimes other topics like history or cocktails), and they appreciate guests who are interested in the intricacies of the products they represent. Remember, if they didn’t like talking about bourbon, they wouldn’t be working as bourbon tour guides!
• Take your best camera. Many of the distilleries have stunning architecture and grounds and inside the buildings there are many opportunities for unique shots of fermenters, stills, barrels and of course
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Located in the heart of Lexington’s Distillery District, Barrel House produces a variety of products, including vodka, moonshine, bourbon barrel aged rum and RockCastle bourbon.
Bluegrass Distillers is the only Kentucky distillery using blue corn (go Big Blue!), which is currently available as a moonshine spirit. Specialty tours are available on request.
Located in downtown Lexington, Town Branch offers the only local combination brewery and distillery tour. Pearse Lyons Reserve malt whiskey was the first malt whiskey to be made in Lexington since prohibition.
Hartfield & Co. distills to incredibly low proof, around just 55-60 percent alcohol by volume, then matures in micro barrels at just 5.8 gallons. This produces a rich, full-flavored bourbon in only three and a half months.
The oldest operating distillery in Kentucky, dating back to 1838, Woodford Reserve’s grounds and buildings are visually stunning and are an amazing example of the Scotch-Irish influenced limestone distillery architecture.
Buffalo Trace is the most complex of the bourbon distilleries, producing bourbon, rye, vodka, liqueurs and even bitters; it also has the distinction of being the oldest continuously operating bourbon distillery, due to receiving one of the few operat
A true farm-to-bottle to distillery, Three Boys grows its own corn right on the property next to the pastures where its Angus cattle graze.
Of those listed here, Wild Turkey has the newest, most modern major distillery and visitors centers, completed in 2014 at a cost of more than $100 million.
Four Roses is the only bourbon distillery to use more than one yeast strain – and they use five! With its Spanish Mission-Style architecture, it is also among the most visually striking of all the bourbon distilleries.
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