The Kentucky Bourbon Trail

Michael Fraser

Publisher/Contributor

Pints, Forks & Friends Field Notes

My worlds aligned when I had the opportunity to help promote an upcoming Bourbon & Barbecue event in Louisville, Kentucky. A few months before the event, I met with my business partner, John Andrews, to scout the location and get a feel for the area. Naturally, the Bourbon Trail was the perfect path for us to explore. Since John was coming from Raleigh, North Carolina, and I was traveling from the Akron, Ohio area, we chose a small town called Hurricane, West Virginia, as our meeting point. We mingled with the locals, I even got John to do a chicken wing reivew with me over at Bubbarino’s Bites & Bubbles. Good stuff!

Pints, Forks & Friends Field Notes
castle key distillery

The next day was all about the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Using Google Maps, we found an entry point in Georgetown, Kentucky. Georgetown was perfect because of its convenient location near popular distilleries: Town Branch in Lexington, Woodford Reserve in Versailles, and Wild Turkey in Lawrenceburg.

We checked out a few local spots, including Slainte Public House, Broussard’s, and the Brown Barrel. It was a quick stop because we were eager to tour the Castle & Key Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky. Castle & Key is an impressive property dating back to 1887, built by Colonel Edmund Haynes Taylor. This historic site is considered the birthplace of bourbon hospitality and tourism.

As luck would have it, after tasting and enjoying everything Castle & Key had to offer, we stumbled upon a magnificent little Southern restaurant called The Stave. We pulled into their dusty parking lot and could smell the barbecue smoking in the back. They opened in 2018 and pride themselves on serving elevated authentic Kentucky cuisine, right in the heart of the Bourbon Trail.

Our last stop before Louisville was the iconic Sig Luscher Brewery. Dating back to the 1860s, a Swiss gentleman named Sigmund Luscher started brewing a crisp, light pilsner that became extremely popular. Fortitude runs deep in that family, with Luscher’s great-great-great-grandson Timothy Luscher and partner Nathan Cryder reopening the 8th oldest brewery in America. Everything we tried there was delicious. They simply call it “Sig.”

I think I’ll cut it off here and break out Louisville as a follow-up Field Notes post. We used Google Maps to navigate the Bourbon Trail and found some great activities on GetYourGuide, along with insights from local Uber drivers.

Get Your Guide Feature!

Louisville: Prohibition, Ghosts, Cocktails and Bites Tour

Louisville Prohibition Ghosts Cocktails

Explore the stories of Louisville’s haunted past on this guided nighttime tour. Meet spirits and drink spirits while learning about Prohibition, bourbon, and the ghosts of historic Louisville.

Highlights

  • Taste bourbon, craft beer, and Prohibition-era cocktails
  • Discover Louisville’s dark and haunted history
  • Meet the resident ghosts of downtown Louisville
  • See famous Prohibition hotspots, including Al Capone’s secret getaway
  • Enjoy delicious small bites along the way
the stave
sig luscher craft hot dog

Side Notes

  • Bubbarino’s Bubbles & Bites, Hurricane, WV (pronounced hurracin) chicken wing review scored a great 8.3 out of 10
  • Castle & Key hasphenomenal Bourbon, but also incredible Gin
  • Sig Luscher is known for their craft hot dogs, so be ready!
  • The Stave has a cool outdoor events area around the back, inside seating is limited
  • Country Boy Brewing’s Clif Jumper India Pale Ale is a great Kentucky brew
  • Once we hit Louisville, we stayed at The Seelbach Hilton – conveniently located, played host to US presidents, legendary artists, and Prohibition mobsters like Al Capone.
  • Mint Julep Experiences is a great resource for bourbon trail tours

More Notes…

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