Culture / Travel

On The Kentucky Bourbon Trail — This Drinker’s Dream Trip Gives New Meaning to the Bucket List

Historic Distilleries Beckon in Louisville

photography Stitzel-Weller Distillery

Although many Texans love their tequila, you’ll find many a Texan who also enjoys sipping on bourbon. 

And believe it or not, National Bourbon Heritage Month is a thing. In 2007, the U.S. Senate declared September “National Bourbon Heritage Month,” recognizing the family heritage, tradition and deep-rooted legacy that the bourbon industry has contributed to the United States.

So you can feel a bit patriotic amidst gulps of bourbon this month.

And of course we can’t think of bourbon without Kentucky coming to mind. After all, it’s the birthplace of bourbon and crafts 95 percent of the world’s supply.

It’s a safe bet to presume you’ll get a solid swill in the Bluegrass State. To test this out, I visited one of the most historical sites of bourbon history, Stitzel-Weller Distillery, which is part of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.

Thousands of travelers venture to Kentucky each September, in timely celebration of the nationally recognized month, to sample a variety of America’s native spirit.

Another fun fact: Congress declared bourbon as the country’s official distilled spirit in 1964.

Along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail

With so many distilleries and nods to tradition, the Kentucky Bourbon Trail continues to gain notoriety internationally and is on many bucket lists, whether the trip takes place in September or even in May for the time-honored Kentucky Derby.

The trail is comprised of 17 signature distilleries at the epicenter of Louisville’s bourbon culture, with an additional 20 craft distilleries.

Coined the “Cathedral of Bourbon,” Stitzel-Weller Distillery is one of the most famous stops along the trail. With its rich history and proximity to downtown Louisville, many visitors launch libation exploration at this historic spot. Dating back to 1935, Stitzel-Weller first opened its doors on Derby Day.

Decades later, you can literally step into a flash of history and experience the distilling process, right up until it’s bottled.

Distillers are happy to indulge tasters and visitors in the industry lingo. On a visit, you can thread your way through warehouse rows and learn terms like cooper — a craftsman of casks and barrels — and rickhouse — a whisky aging warehouse. Tours and tastings — and surely Insta-worthy moments — are open to the public six days a week.

If you visit the bourbon mecca, be sure to request a tasting of one of the most sought-after bourbons along the trail: the distillery’s signature Blade and Bow Kentucky Straight Bourbon.

Stitzel-Weller Distillery barrel (Photo by Stitzel-Weller Distillery)
Blade and Bow Kentucky Straight Bourbon is first-in-class. (Photo by Stitzel-Weller Distillery)

Here’s a little bourbon wisdom you can impart at your next dinner party: to be classified as bourbon, it needs to be made in the United States. And to be classified as straight bourbon, it must be stored in a brand new, charred white oak barrel.

There are many stipulations to preserve the integrity of America’s native spirit. Along with being a straight bourbon, Blade and Bow offers hints of dried apricot and ripe pear, and pays homage to the artful passion and renowned craftsmanship of its home distillery.

Since 2015, this particular bourbon has pioneered the distillery’s direction for the new millennium.

Cheers to the future of this age-old spirit.

When others see a home,
We see a Work of Art
View Properties

Featured Properties


Like PaperCity Dallas on Facebook

Beyond the magazine. Get more of Dallas’ top restaurant, real estate, society, fashion and art in your news feed.