Here’s what to expect on a tour of Bardstown Bourbon Company, one of the newest additions to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail!
By: Alisha Trenalone
What makes the Kentucky Bourbon Trail so exciting as a destination?
For starters, it’s never going to be just one experience. A few years ago, you could visit nine distilleries, but as of 2022 there are eighteen! A number of them, including the nearby Lux Row, are centered around Bardstown, Kentucky.
Each distillery has its own unique personality.
The Bardstown Bourbon Company, one of the newer additions to the list, checks out as a modern, shiny new experience with huge ambitions for the future. I visited one afternoon on my way to Mammoth Cave National Park a little further south.
Interested in touring the distillery? Here’s what you can expect at the Bardstown Bourbon Company.
How Much Does a Tour Cost at the Bardstown Bourbon Company?
As of fall 2022, the “From Distillate to Barrel” tour costs $15. This is the basic one-hour tour and tasting experience.
If you want to go beyond the basics, there’s a ton of other in-depth tours and tastings, ranging anywhere from $30 into the hundreds of dollars.
Do I Need to Reserve a Tour in Advance?
All the tours on the Bourbon Trail are best booked in advance, because they definitely have their busy times.
It’s easy to reserve a spot online at the Bardstown Bourbon Company.
That said, the day I went (on a weekday after Labor Day), I was the only person on the tour! It occasionally happens on a Wednesday or a Thursday, I was told.
So if you’d like a small, personal experience, bear that in mind!
What Will I Get to See on the Tour?
The tour starts with tastings!
In a classroom on the second floor, with huge windows looking out towards the rickhouses, you’ll hear from your tour guide about the story of the distillery.
You’ll also get to watch a video that’s great for explaining the bourbon-making process to newbies.
Want to dig in to more bourbon facts? Try the book Bourbon Curious by Fred Minnick.
On my tour, I was given samples of a distillate (yes, unaged bourbon straight from the still – it’s mostly all about the burn!) as well as a somewhat more mature bourbon, and then a smooth blended bourbon.
Because Bardstown Bourbon Company is a fairly young operation, for now they blend their bourbon with older varieties sourced from outside.
But, as I learned, they’re poised for a wide-ranging future, with dozens of mash bills and a program of customization for clients and brands that want to work with them.
The tour moves on to let you see the actual process, as you walk past cookers, fermenters, stills, and barrels.
The fermentation vats were especially fun the day I visited. The mash was bubbling away like crazy!
Lastly, you’ll visit the rickhouses, one of which is designed with photo ops in mind.
Here you’ll learn a little about the science of aging bourbon, which was pretty interesting!
Then it’s time to sample some bourbon straight from the barrel, as the guide “thieves” it for you.
You might even get a little char in the glass.
Back at the visitors center, you’ll pick up your souvenir bourbon glass and have a chance to browse the gift shop.
What If I Want to Try Other Bourbons?
You can order pours or flights of bourbon in the lobby.
They also offer an old-fashioned, which you can even get to go.
Even more cocktails, as well as wine, beer and cider are available at the bar next to the restaurant.
What Else Should I Check Out at the Bardstown Bourbon Company?
The restaurant to the left of the lobby is a super inviting, very open space perfect for relaxing over lunch or dinner.
I didn’t get to have a meal here on this visit, but the menu looked amazing, with lots of locally sourced ingredients.
There’s a lot of outdoor seating, perfect for hanging out with friends or family.
It’s really a beautiful setting, with a lot of attention given to design. Everything feels really spacious and modern.
I ended the day a little further south at Elizabethtown, a great home base for exploring this area. (Dessert at Dewster’s was something special!)
If you’re thinking about visiting in September, you might also get to check out the Kentucky Bourbon Festival in Bardstown. Distilleries in the area host special activities, besides the events held in the downtown area.
Bardstown Bourbon Company was a fun afternoon out! Have you been yet? Let us know in the comments.
About Alisha Trenalone
I’m Alisha and I live in eastern Kentucky. Discovering good food is one of my joys in life, but you will also find me doing lots of reading and dreaming of travel. Having worked at a local newspaper for several years, I’m avidly interested in the written word and the art of sharing stories. Now I help Sarah out in various ways here at Champagne Tastes!