Fine Kentucky Bourbon is found everywhere when visiting charming Bardstown, KY. It’s steeped in the town’s history and infused in the cuisine at the many great restaurants. Bardstown, known as the “Bourbon Capital of the World,” is also the official trailhead of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. And as the second oldest city in Kentucky, its picturesque downtown includes beautiful historic buildings housing pubs, shops and restaurants.
But where did it all begin? The local lore credits a Baptist minister, Elijah Craig, as the inventor of Kentucky Bourbon in the 1800’s. However there’s still some debate over this theory. Also the origin of the name “Bourbon” for whiskey distilled in Kentucky, is still unknown. However we do know that Bourbon is a uniquely American spirit. We also know that settlers from Ireland, Scotland and other european countries came to the Bardstown area over 200 years ago. They brought with them a knowledge of distilling and recipes from their homelands. In Kentucky they found corn abundant, so it was used in producing the mash for distilling whiskey. In fact today Kentucky Bourbon is created using mostly corn mash with barley, rye, or wheat mixed in, then aged in oak barrels.
The Bourbon Manor Bed and Breakfast, at the center of beautiful downtown Bardstown, is the place for a perfect Kentucky Bourbon getaway. With 10 elegant guest suites in two beautifully restored pre-Civil War plantation homes, the B&B is full of historic charm. The serene, parklike setting also includes and on-site day spa and its own bourbon lounge to enjoy an evening cocktail. Reserve your Kentucky Bourbon escape to lovely Bardstown in the new year!
7 Fascinating Kentucky Bourbon Distilleries and Museums
Bardstown is the perfect place to stay while exploring Kentucky Bourbon distilleries and history. The walkable, lively town center offers great dining, Bourbon tastings and history not found anywhere else in Kentucky. Pick up the Kentucky Bourbon Trail here and visit surrounding distilleries and museums in the area.
- Maker’s Mark® – Bill Samuels, Sr. began this distillery with his family’s 170-year-old recipe and it’s still the oldest bourbon family today. Informative tours include the history and process of making their great bourbon.
- Bardstown Bourbon Company – Here visitors get a hands-on experience during the distillery tours with a tasting at the end. They also offer cocktail creating classes and special limited release tours. Their Bottle & Bond Kitchen Restaurant and bar offers gourmet comfort food and great cocktails.
- Barton 1792 Distillery – The name honors the year Kentucky became a state, however the name Barton still remains a mystery. No one with the surname Barton has ever own the distillery. It was established in 1879 by the Moore family and remains the oldest fully-operating Distillery in Bardstown. Learn about the history and operations on the fun informative tours.
- Four Roses Bourbon – The visitors center here is a mini bourbon history museum, with antique bottles, vintage advertising and other memorabilia. Learn more about the founder Paul Jone Jr and when he began the distillery in 1884. Tours also highlight the process all the way to barreling and bottling. Then relax in the Bourbon tasting bar and sample Four Roses products.
- Heaven Hill Distillery – The Bourbon Heritage Center is also housed at this distillery. So tours include not only the history of Heaven Hill but all of Kentucky Bourbon. All tours also include a bourbon tasting where you can sip one named for the “inventor” of bourbon, Elijah Craig.
- Willett Distillery – Here they create small batch, craft bourbons at this renovated historic distillery (circa 1937). They also recently opened The Bar at Willet that serves vintage whiskey, classic cocktails and small plates.
- The Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History – Located in the heart of Bardstown at historic Spalding Hall. Displays include artifacts, old bourbon bottles, and documents. Special exhibits focus on the evolution of distilling equipment and the bourbon industry during Prohibition.
After your Kentucky Bourbon adventures return to your perfectly appointed guest suite at the historic Bourbon Manor. Relax in a whirlpool tub or by the fireplace before a serene night’s sleep in a luxurious king-size bed. Then wake each morning to a bourbon-inspired gourmet country breakfast. Plan a fun-filled adult vacation in charming Bardstown, Kentucky.