Ride the Kentucky River. Stroll among historic architecture. Experience genuine Southern hospitality. Sip bourbon straight from the barrel as well as shaken and stirred into amazing cocktails. Get inspired by visual arts. Tingle your taste buds with scrumptious cuisine. Discover how bourbon has seeped into local culture. Enjoy the great outdoors at any pace. Once you find Frankfort, Kentucky, you’ll want to linger.
Kentucky’s capital city sits on the shores of the Kentucky River between Covington and Bardstown and also midway between Lexington and Louisville. With its natural beauty, social charm, and spirited history, we like to say that Frankfort is “Kentucky Distilled.”
Frankfort offers easy access to eight distilleries plus an abundant array of other bourbon-centric venues. Whether you’ve got one night, three nights, or longer to stay, we’ll keep you busy enjoying authentic bourbon experiences.
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.
Frankfort is home to four distilleries:
Just a short drive from Frankfort are five more distilleries:
Bulleit Distilling Co., a new stop on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, offers several tours at its facility in Shelbyville. The one-hour Frontier Whiskey tour is a full tour and tasting for $22. Short on time? Opt for the 30-minute tasting that promises to unlock your senses. Compare three different single barrel samples in a private tasting room for $40. Learn how to make a smoked old fashioned at home for $40 or how to infuse bourbon for $45. You can also ‘whet your palette’ with a paint-n-sip workshop for $45. After the tour you can stay to sip cocktails, play board games, or even create a custom bottle label at the design kiosk.
Four Roses Distillery in Lawrenceburg, the only bourbon distillery that combines five proprietary yeast strains with two separate mash bills to produce ten distinct bourbons, welcomes visitors for tours Wednesdays through Sundays. A new one-hour single barrel flight tasting experience showcases four bourbons for $45; the 1.25-hour distillery legacy tour explores the distillery and grounds with a guided tasting flight for $22; a taste of history is a guided flight without a tour from $16. Special seasonal events are also sometimes offered.
Jeptha Creed in Shelbyville uses old fashioned methods to craft spirits for modern tastes using locally-grown and -sourced ingredients to the extent possible. The one-hour bourbon experience offers a look inside the barrel barns and includes a personalized tasting straight from the barrel for $45; tours are offered every two hours from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and Noon to 4 p.m. on Sundays. A mixology class offers instruction on how to make two cocktails for $35 with a souvenir rocks glass; on Fridays and Saturdays the vodka class is at 2 p.m. and the bourbon class is at 4 p.m. The free 30-minute spirits tasting features quarter-ounce pours of three different bourbons and original moonshine; it’s offered Thursdays through Saturdays on the hour from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from Noon to 4 p.m.
Wild Turkey in Lawrenceburg, where master distillers have stayed true to a tradition from before Prohibition, offers tours at the Wild Turkey Visitors Center that will resume once some renovations are complete. In the meantime, visit the historic Station Master’s House gift shop on Wednesdays through Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from Noon to 4 p.m. for tastings. To inquire about tours, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Woodford Reserve in Versailles, a National Historic Landmark where bourbon production began in 1812, runs a 70-minute ‘path to flavor’ tour and tasting for $32 that is currently taking reservations three months in advance. The ‘spectacle for the senses’ tasting is a 30-minute guided tasting for $25. The ‘VIP master distiller tour’ offers a behind-the-scenes two-hour experience for $500. The 70-minute ‘innovation inspired’ tour and tasting showcases four spirits for $125 and includes a branded rocks glass; it’s offered on Saturdays at 11 a.m. Reservations for all tours must be made online.
Beyond distilleries, tour options abound in Frankfort.
Frankfort offers two self-guided walking tour routes. The Historic Frankfort Walking Tour maps 40 noteworthy properties. Stop by the Visitor Center to pick up a free guide. The Frankfort Public Arts Tour showcases the capital city’s architecture, stained glass windows, murals, statues, and other eye-appealing works. Pick up a free guide at the Visitor Center or find it at FrankfortPublicArt.com.
Bourbon Paddle Tours in Frankfort navigate the Kentucky River through Lock and Dam No. 4 then dock at Buffalo Trace for a distillery tour and tasting. This four-hour guided adventure offers views that can only be seen from the river and special access to an area of Buffalo Trace typically off limits to the public. Book an available date on Canoe Kentucky’s calendar; additional trips for groups of eight can also be booked Fridays through Sundays from June through October by special request.
Kentucky Bourbon Insider Tours is one way to have a designated driver while touring Bardstown. Book a private tour day and ride between at least three distilleries of your choice. Prices vary based on tour route, day of week, number of passengers, and type of vehicle selected. Traveling solo? Treat yourself to a $1,000 ride in a Maserati.
Ride the nation’s only boat-based bourbon tour with Kentucky River Tours in Frankfort and discover the Kentucky River’s role on bourbon history. Among the tour options, the 50-minute Kentucky River Bourbon History Tour discusses six riverfront distilleries for $25. The four-hour Old Taylor tour, offered in partnership with Buffalo Trace, showcases the distillery’s archeological dig into bourbon history for $70. The 2.5-hour ‘river tour & taste’ combines history lessons with a private tasting at Buffalo Trace for $50. ‘Bourbon and boats’ is a 2.5-hour experience delving into the history of the Old Hermitage Distillery and includes a stop at Bourbon on Main in downtown Frankfort for $80. ‘Spirits of Frankfort’ is an after-dark ride into local legends and lore for $30. Custom private tours available, too. Book online or call 502-219-3318. Tours are offered April through October.
Rebecca Ruth Candy Factory Tours & Museum in Frankfort is the birthplace of the famed Kentucky Bourbon Balls. Delve into the story during a 20-minute production tour ($6/adult; $4/child) and then dive into sweet deliciousness at the retail counter, Tours are offered Mondays through Saturdays at 10:30 a.m., 11 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 2 p.m., and 2:30 p.m. Note that candy production runs Mondays through Thursdays. For tour inquiries, email email@example.com.
At Kentucky Gentlemen Cigars in historic downtown Frankfort you can customize your own blend of special cigar varieties all over the world and/or take your pick among cigars flavored with Blanton’s, Buffalo Trace, and other spirits.
Sip a flight of bourbons at Capital Cellars, which stocks an unparalleled selection of specialty, hard-to-find and unique bourbons in historic downtown Frankfort.
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.