“The Most Beautiful Small Town in America,” as declared by Rand McNally and USA Today, Bardstown, Kentucky is arguably also the nation’s best-smelling community. Heavenly bourbon aromas waft through the air thanks to the 11 unique distillery experiences within 16 miles of court square.
Come to the Bourbon Capital of the World and ride a bourbon train. Walk among historic architecture. Sip America’s native spirit while rubbing elbows with some of its most renowned producers. Belly up to a bar that’s been serving visitors since 1779. Treat your taste buds to delicious fare. Toast genuine Southern hospitality. Enjoy outdoor adventures, shopping sprees, educational opportunities, and entertaining surprises.
Bourbon comes from Bardstown. Whether you’ve got one night, three nights, or longer to stay, we’ll keep you busy enjoying authentic bourbon experiences. Dozens of intriguing tour options provide insights into bourbon’s backstory, greatest hits, and current playlists.
Here’s just a peek at the fun possibilities that await.
Kentucky Bourbon Distillery Tours
No matter your level of bourbon knowledge, you can learn a lot on a distillery tour. Most distilleries host tours and tastings; while themes vary, on most every tour you can expect to learn the history of the founding family and brand, glean insights into mash bill recipes and production techniques used, see the equipment that transforms grain to liquid, visit rickhouses to see aging barrels, and sip the results at a tasting bar. At key points, you’ll hear stills clanging and chugging, sniff sweet and sour mash, get a pleasant whiff of the evaporate known as the Angel’s Share, and taste America’s Native Spirit.
Reservations are recommended for distillery tours; typically, you can check available dates/times and book your reservation on the distillery’s website.
Bardstown offers easy access to 11 distillery experiences that offer public tours:
- Bardstown Bourbon Company, a modern distillery on 100 acres of farmland bringing a Napa Valley experience to Bardstown, hosts a compelling array of tours and experiences: The one-hour distillate to barrel tour and tasting follows the production process to a barrel tasting for $15. The rickhouse experience features barrel thieving for $30. Fill your own bottle during a VIP experience inside the Vintage Library for $295. Delve into product development with a component tasting for $225. The Shaken & Stirred cocktail class is a fun way to perfect the art of making two different cocktails for $55. Taste whiskey history with an exclusive flight in the vintage whiskey library for $250. Learn to blend bourbon for $55. Test your skills in a blind tasting for $55. Go behind the scenes with head distiller Nick Smith for $58.30. Bourbon & Bites takes a modern look at food and spirit pairing for $50. Enjoy an in-depth facility tour with Bourbon Hall of Fame Master Distiller Steve Nally for $95. Book your reservation online to choose among available dates on the calendar.
- Four Roses Warehouse & Bottling Facility, in nearby Cox’s Creek, invites visitors to tour the scenic facility nestled in the quiet countryside. See firsthand how Four Roses' award-winning bourbon is aged and bottled. Slow down with a guided tasting and take home a signature tasting glass as a memento. For up-to-date details, call 502.543.2264.
- Heaven Hill, the nation’s largest family-owned spirits producer, recently completed a massive $19-million expansion of its Visitor Center including a 90-minute interactive “You Do Bourbon” elevated tasting that includes personalizing a bottle that you can take home for $40 plus the cost of the personalized bottle. During the 45-minute mashbill experience learn about five acclaimed whiskeys for $18. The 45-minute whiskey connoisseur experience features at least four of Heaven Hill’s premium or limited release spirits for $25. Special events are also offered throughout the year; check the online calendar when booking your reservation. Short on time? Head straight to the Five Brothers Bar to sample single pour, a flight of American whiskeys, or a creative cocktail on Thursdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m.
- Jim Beam American Stillhouse in Clermont has been crafting bourbon since 1795 through eight generations. See how its bourbon is made on a guided 90-minute tour for $22. The ‘meet the family’ tasting is a 20-minute experience for $12. Learn to make bourbon cocktails in a 30-minute class for $30. The 45-minute ‘Basil Hayden Culinary Tasting Experience’ in the new Kitchen Table Restaurant pairs whiskey and small bites for $50. The ‘Behind the Beam’ four-hour experience includes a private distillery tour, tasting straight from the barrel, and the chance to sit down with Fred and Freddie Noe for a premium bourbon tasting in the historic Beam home for $250.
- Limestone Branch, a seventh-generation Beam craft distillery, welcomes visitors daily. A 30-minute tasting is $10. The one-hour distillery tour and tasting is $12. The one-hour Yellowstone Select experience shares history, the distillery production floor, and an educational tasting for $25. On select Friday and Saturday evenings live musical entertainment is staged for 1.5 hours.
- Log Still, a 300-acre campus with an amphitheater, event space, cottages, and tasting room that’s open Mondays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. One-hour distillery tours and tastings of core products are offered for $15. Want to linger? The on-site bar is open Thursdays through Saturdays from 5 to 11 p.m.
- Lux Row Distillers boasts six-barrel warehouses, a visitor center, and tasting room anchored by an impressive 43-foot custom copper still. The one-hour production tour offers a behind-the-scenes look at the bourbon-making process from start to finish for $15. The 45-minute premium tasting includes some barrel thieving for $25. The 1.5-hour immersive cocktail making course and tour teaches how to make two cocktails from scratch with fresh ingredients for $50.
- Maker’s Mark, where bottles have been hand-dipped since 1953, hosts 1.25-hour distillery tours for $22, a one-hour cocktail workshop for $75, a behind-the-scenes two-hour immersion for $55, a 2.5-hour deep dive into the American oak tree and its crucial role in bourbon-making for $220, plus periodic seasonal workshops like the one-hour mulled wine and wreath-making experience for $110 or 90-minute holiday toast for $40.
- Preservation Distillery + Farm, Nelson County’s first official craft bourbon operation and only 100-percent pot still distillery, offers an educational distillery tour that lasts about an hour for $24. The Overproof Tour & Tasting Experience for $45 includes a full distillery tour and tasting flight of five products, all from the vintage barrel collection and all cask strength over 100 proof. The gift shop typically stocks at least one bourbon so rare it’s not available for tasting.
- Willett, makers of bourbons and ryes and operating since 1937, invites visitors to make tour reservations up to 90 days in advance. A 30-minute sensory whiskey education and tasting experience is $18. A one-hour guided walking tour of the distilling process from grains to barrels is $25. The visitor center is open Mondays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The Bar at Willett is open Wednesdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. for cocktails and creative bites; reservations are required.
Bardstown Digital Walking Tours present themed self-guided routes via a smartphone app. Tour themes include historic architecture, the Civil War, crime, and the one-mile Whiskey Walks & Bourbon Talks (which offers both detailed and abbreviated options).
The self-guided Historic Walking Tour of Downtown Bardstown features 48 sites of interest, including Old Talbott Tavern, a local “watering hole” that first opened in 1779! Pick up a map at the Welcome Center or download the pdf.
Ride a horse-drawn carriage through the back streets of Bardstown with Around The Town Carriage as a guide offers insights into local history with peeks at bourbon taverns and other sites of interest. $50 per couple, $20 each additional person.
My Old Kentucky Dinner Train departs Bardstown and operates year-round on varied schedules. The 2.5-hour bourbon excursions include a four-course meal, bourbon tasting hosted by a master distiller, and souvenir rocks glass for $127. Lunch and dinner excursions, murder mystery dinners, and seasonal themes are also offered.
WhiskMe Transportation (aka Bourbon City Taxi) is Bardstown’s premier taxi service. Whether you need a ride to/from one stop or a driver to escort you to multiple distilleries, call 502.331.2704 for reservations or book online so you can just sit back and enjoy the ride.
Ride between distilleries with Bourbontown Tours, which specializes in custom, private tours for small groups, or CopperTop Tours, which aims for lighthearted private tours. Demand for these tours is high, so we recommend that you book at least three months in advance.
My Old Kentucky Home State Park offers a 1792 Guided Bourbon Tasting. See why Jim Murray’s Whiskey Bible named Barton 1792 the “2020 World Whiskey of the Year.” Explore the tastes of four rare selections plus enjoy a cocktail made with 1792 Single Barrel Bourbon.
Head to the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History at Spalding Hall to dig into the history of American whiskey from pre-colonial days through the 1960s. Among the items on display see Abraham Lincoln’s liquor license, unique advertising posters, prescriptions used to purchase bourbon and other spirits during Prohibition, moonshine stills, novelty whiskey containers, rare antiques, and more.
All tour prices are per adult age 21+ and do not include taxes, fees, or gratuities. Availability may vary and prices may change at vendor’s discretion. Whenever available, advance reservations are recommended.