Bardstown's Bourbon Bonanza
Bourbon Heritage Center at Heaven Hill
Heaven Hill and the Bourbon Heritage Center
Heaven Hill, adjacent to the grounds of My Old Kentucky Home State Park, has a truly impressive line of whiskeys. Not only do they produce Evan Williams, Elijah Craig, Old Fitgerald, Henry McHenna and Rittenhouse Rye, they also make the super premium Parker Beam Signiture Series line of bourbon that includes Parker's Heritage Collection.
Heaven Hill is also home to the Bourbon Heritage Center that's a natural gateway to the distillery and the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Along with an abundance of bourbon themed mementos, the gift shop is well stocked with some harder to find versions of Evan Williams and the Parker Heritage Collection.
Barton 1792 Distillery
For some time, the Barton 1792 distillery was a somewhat overlooked member of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, but since the introduction of the premium Ridgemont 1792 bourbon, Barton has come into its own as a bourbon destination. Their relatively new premium bourbon also helped expose the world to just how good their Very Old Barton line of bourbons really is.
Warehouse Z is a near mythical part of the distillery grounds too. All master distillers have their favorite aging warehouses that produce some of the most full flavored bourbon. It's a lot like the terrior of a certain vineyard that produces the best wine. The elements of light, shade, heat, cold and even wind can have a dramatic effect on the end product of both wine and bourbon. The location and even the angle of Warehouse Z makes it the go to warehouse for premium bourbon making at Barton.
Barton 1792 Aging Warehouses
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Willettis the epitome of what a boutique bourbon distillery is all about; a commitment to quality over quantity. Willett Pot Reserve, Noah's Mill, Rowan's Creek and Kentucky Vintage are evidence of that hands on craft of making exceptional whiskey. These award winning releases are now going to be joined by the new Exploratory Cask Collection that employs casks of other spirits is a finish to the whiskey aging process.
Old Talbott Tavern
Drinking and Eating in Bardstown
Bardstown is also a great place to sample the local product and get a bite to eat. The Old Talbott Tavern has been serving food and drink almost as long as America has been a country. The Rickhouse is a great place to pair a great steak with a great bourbon.
Just a few miles down Loretto Road from Bardstown is the tiny hamlet of Loretto and Maker's Mark, the distillery that turns out the bourbon with the red was seal on top of the bottle. The distillery grounds are in an isolated hollow complete with a creek derived from a limestone spring. The location harkens back to the days when whiskey was produced away from the prying eyes of government agents and temperance activists. It's a great place to get a feel for just how inspirational some rural parts of Kentucky can be.
The Jim Beam Stillhouse
In nearby Clermont, KY, Jim Beam produces their namesake bourbon that's also one of the world's most popular. They do make their Jim Beam line of bourbons on a a massive scale to meet global demand, but they also make some of the best premium small batch and single barrel bourbons as well. Baker's, Booker's and Knob Creek are among the premium bourbons produced at Jim Beam.
The distillery recently began their Signature Series of super-premium bourbon releases. Their Quarter Cask release is a bourbon aged in smaller barrels, and their 12 Year is a longer aged bourbon with a concentrated flavor profile. The recent addition of a Single Barrel series has been met with approval from bourbon enthusiasts. Around the world.
Bardstown is one of those quintessentially small town America places that are rapidly disappearing all over the country. There are several small shops that sell items unique to Kentucky. There are also several restaurants to choose from, and there's even Hurst Drugs, an old fashioned drug store with a soda fountain and lunch counter. Even if you're not hungry, it's a great place to walk around and soak up that small town vibe.