There are a lot of predictable American vacations you can plan. They include trips to the beach, lake, or mountains. Or maybe a thriving urban spot like New York City or San Francisco is more your jam. And though there’s nothing wrong with any of these trips, there is something to be said for planning a vacation that’s a tad bit more unique – like the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.
What is the Kentucky Bourbon Trail?
In order to understand the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, you have to first understand bourbon.
And while it would be preferable to reach through the screen and offer you a taste test, the next best thing is to tell you a bit about the history (and its relationship with the Bluegrass State).
The first thing to know is that in 1964, a Congressional Resolution declared Bourbon an “indigenous product” of the United States. That means that no other country can legally make a product and call it bourbon.
In order for whiskey to be labeled bourbon, it has to meet four specific requirements: It must be (1) made with at least 51 percent corn, (2) aged in new, charred oak containers, (3) stored at no more than 125 proof, and (4) bottled at a minimum of 80 proof. And while bourbon doesn’t technically have to be made in the state of Kentucky, 95 percent of the world’s bourbon is produced there.
So now that we have the proper context, let’s move back to the topic of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.
According to the official website, the trail – which was established by the Kentucky Distiller’s Association in 1999 – is “a road trip-style experience for bourbon lovers to visit the Bluegrass State’s signature distilleries.” It features 38 distilleries that stretch as far as 70 miles apart. Each one offers its own unique experience, including tastings, tours, activities, bed and breakfast accommodations, and entertainment.
Over the last five years, the Kentucky Bourbon Trail has attracted more than 2.5 million visitors from 50 states and 25 different countries – and there’s always room for one more visitor!
Reasons to Visit the Kentucky Bourbon Trail
Whether you’re a bourbon connoisseur or simply an avid traveler, the Kentucky Bourbon Trail is worth adding to your bucket list. Here are a few suggestions to ensure you have the best experience possible:
1. Don’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew
As mentioned, the there are more than three-dozen distilleries on the trail – with some located as much as 70 miles apart. So it’s important to pace yourself.
This isn’t a trip you’re going to do in three or four days. It would take weeks of travel to soak up everything this rich stretch of land has to offer.
The last thing you want to do is feel like you have to rush from one distillery to the next. That’s why we recommend only scheduling one to three distilleries per day. Furthermore, you should give yourself at least a couple of hours at each stop.
2. Travel in Style
There are plenty of ways to travel the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, but you should consider renting an RV. In fact, this has quickly become one of the favorite methods of transportation for families and groups. It allows you to travel in comfort and style – making the transportation part of the experience!
3. Do Some Research on the Front End
You’ll get plenty of history at each distillery, but it’s helpful to do some research on the front end of your travels. If nothing else, this gives you some context for your travels. (It’ll also get you more excited about the various stops you’re making along the way.)
4. Go Easy on the Drinks
It’s very important to be conscious of your health and safety on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Drinking and driving never mix, which is why you’ll want to plan your day carefully.
Anyone who will be driving should not drink at the distillery. The best option is to alternate drivers so that each traveler can enjoy tastings along the way. (Don’t worry if you miss out on indulging at a specific distillery. You can always buy a bottle and enjoy it after your last stop of the day.)
Enjoy an Amazing Experience
The beauty of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail is that you can keep returning for years and never see the same thing twice. With 38 different distilleries stretching across dozens of miles of gorgeous Bluegrass State landscape, you can take your time and enjoy a unique experience each time you come.
What are you waiting for? Start planning your trip today!