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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Exploring Kentucky Bourbon Trail: A Family Perspective

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Mayor Greg Fischer recently declared he wanted Louisville to become the bourbon tourism capital of the world. Bourbon is Kentucky’s native spirit and our bourbon heritage is rich, but is it family-friendly? Can you really take your kids to a distillery?

 photo d30c6980-e721-47db-b05d-03e577a10476_zpsa14564ec.jpg photo 2df96100-056b-44b0-9237-c744456ee1b4_zpsd74991b8.jpgThe answer is absolutely yes. There is so much more to Kentucky’s Native spirit than Manhattans and Mint Juleps. For starters, early settlers started making bourbon so their crops wouldn’t spoil during the long and arduous transport through the mountains of Appalachia. It was a way to preserve the harvest more than anything. And Kentucky’s natural limestone deposits, also responsible for our world-famous bluegrass, are the main reason Kentucky bourbon is the gold standard.

 photo a5255c2d-026f-4285-9dcd-0d842a62858b_zpsdc83ed87.jpgBardstown, KY is a great place to start learning about Kentucky’s history, both bourbon and non-bourbon related. In addition to Bardstown’s historic Main Street and My Old Kentucky Home State Park, Bardstown is also home to a high concentration of bourbon heritage. Visit Heaven Hill’s Bourbon Heritage Center and take your kids on a trolley ride tour of the distillery and downtown Bardstown while you learn about local history. Visit the Oscar Getz Whiskey Museum and view bourbon artifacts and historic documents such as Abraham Lincoln’s liquor license.

Another great destination for families is Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort. At only an hour from Louisville this is a totally easy day trip for most of us. Their Trace Tour lasts an hour and is open to all ages. In addition to these awesome tours, Buffalo Trace also hosts numerous family-friendly events throughout the year.  There’s an Easter Egg Hunt, a 5k, and Disturbia at the Distillery for Halloween, among many others.

 photo 259957ad-3a33-4927-9e00-40af33311f51_zps1d5687ee.jpgI recently attended a panel discussion in which Freddie Johnson of Buffalo Trace talked about taking groups of 4H kids on distillery tours.  They get to see the crops their parents grow turned into a premium product, while learning about the science and business that go into bourbon.

 photo IMG_2321_zps8f15bc2e.jpg photo IMG_2317_zps9f99c189.jpgDistillery tours are fun for all ages. I’ve taken kids in strollers to the Maker’s Mark Distillery, where we learned about bourbon production from start to finish, visited a rack house full of bourbon barrels, and learned about the angel’s share. Check the Kentucky Bourbon Trail’s website for all eight member distilleries. Each distillery may have different rules about kids, so be sure to check before you plan your visit.

By guest contributor: Maggie

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