Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour Grows Up In A Big Way

Visitors to bourbon country in Kentucky have, for awhile now, had two official whiskey trail style options available to them based on materials provided by the Kentucky Distillers’ Association (KDA). There’s the ever popular Kentucky Bourbon Trail, which covers the big distilleries, and, slightly more in the Bourbon Trail’s shadow, the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour. The latter focuses on the craft distilleries in this whiskey producing state, and now that the number of craft distilleries is more dramatically increasing there, we are seeing the KDA pour some major new resources into making the craft option that much more enjoyable.

The expanded Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour, according to those behind it, now includes new spirits producers (20 all total, to be exact) and is said to be rewarding those who tour all of them “with an enhanced Passport (how you keep track of where you are visiting), regional itineraries and a ‘challenging’ finishing prize.”

Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour

Kentucky Peerless in Louisville is one of the 20 stops on the Craft Tour (image copyright The Whiskey Wash)

As to the specifics of this, here’s an outline based upon information provided by the KDA:

  • Regional breakdowns of the Bourbon Trail Craft Tour, including Northern, Central, Western and Bluegrass, with each region having “streamlined itineraries and suggested stops, with visitors earning a collectible challenge coin after completing each territory.”
    • Northern
      • New Riff, Newport
      • Second Sight, Ludlow
      • Old Pogue, Maysville
      • Boone County, Independence
      • Neeley Family, Sparta
    • Central
      • Kentucky Artisan, Crestwood
      • Kentucky Peerless, Louisville
      • Jeptha Creed, Shelbyville
      • Willett, Bardstown
      • Preservation, Bardstown
    • Western
      • Boundary Oak, Radcliffe
      • Casey Jones, Hopkinsville
      • MB Roland, Pembroke
      • Dueling Grounds, Franklin
    • Bluegrass
      • Limestone Branch, Lebanon
      • Wilderness Trail, Danville
      • Barrel House, Lexington
      • James E. Pepper, Lexington
      • Bluegrass Distillers, Lexington
      • Hartfield & Co., Paris
  • The Craft Tour Passport has been redesigned as a souvenir guidebook, with nearly 70 pages of distillery information, cocktail recipes, suggested travel routes, maps, events and more. Passports can be purchased at participating distilleries for $3, “with proceeds going to further the KDA’s responsibility efforts against drunk driving and environmental sustainability initiatives.”
  • Fans who tour all 20 KBTCT stops will earn a free, custom-designed barrel stave to display their coins. The showpiece stave also comes with an official KBT tasting glass “engineered by Kentucky’s legendary Master Distillers specifically to savor the complexities of Bourbon whiskey.”
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“The tremendous growth of Kentucky’s craft industry has spurred local tourism with visitors looking for homegrown, intimate experiences around all kinds of boutique spirits,” said KDA President Eric Gregory in a prepared statement. “The KBT Craft Tour now welcomes innovative micro distillers who are making everything from flavored moonshine using locally grown ingredients to barrel-aged rums and vodka, brandy, gin, and, of course, our state’s signature Kentucky Bourbon.”

Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour

The glass and custom-designed barrel stave for those who finish the Craft Trail (image via KDA)

“Kentucky’s distillers are a welcoming, inclusive group,” added Paul Tomaszewski, co-founder and head distiller at MB Roland Distillery, “and we love to share that feeling of brotherhood with our guests. They usually get a kick when we recommend that they visit our distilling friends nearby, even though they’re our competitors on the shelf.

“That’s what the Kentucky Bourbon Trail experiences are all about. No matter how large or small, we all understand that we’re part of a rich tradition, heritage and culture that makes Kentucky unique in all the world. We’re thrilled to be able to share that spirit.”

The KBT Craft Tour tallied 340,000 distillery stops last year, the most since its founding in 2012 as a complement to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail tour. The original tour logged more than one million visits last year for the first time since its creation by the KDA in 1999.

The Whisky Exchange


Nino Kilgore-Marchetti

Nino Kilgore-Marchetti is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Whiskey Wash, an award winning whiskey lifestyle website dedicated to informing and entertaining consumers about whisk(e)y on a global level. As a whisk(e)y journalist, expert and judge he has written about the subject extensively, been interviewed in various media outlets and...