What is the recipe for a perfect Kentucky Bourbon whiskey? Family tradition, limestone and a little bit of magic! Even though Bourbon has been produced anywhere in the United States, it is strongly associated with the American South, and especially Kentucky where 97 percent of the world’s Bourbon is created, following a 200-year tradition. Inhale the mellow caramel and oaky aroma, and observe how countless barrels age to liquid perfection. “So many Bourbons, so little time!” is a sigh often heard around here, so come along and help untangle the recipe, sip by sip. But no tour of Kentucky can be complete without horses and horse racing! Tour amazing, multi-million dollar horse farms, and meet retired champions and the best of the breed.
Slightly Active. May involve some walking and climbing.
Kentucky experiences all four distinct seasons. The daytime temperature during the summer averages 87 degrees; the winter lows average 23 degrees. Consequently, Spring and Fall are Kentucky’s most popular seasons. In the Spring, Kentucky comes to life with a blaze of color. The bluegrass fields glow brightly and spring foals can be seen making their first runs in Kentucky’s Horse Country. During the Fall, the weather in Kentucky brings even more color. Shades of yellow, red, and orange foliage can be spotted as early as mid-September, with a statewide peak somewhere around mid-October.
Arrive Louisville and transfer to your hotel, where a welcome dinner awaits you. Next morning, head to the Kentucky Derby Museum, dedicated to American Thoroughbred horse racing, and to preserving the history of the Kentucky Derby. On two floors of exhibit space, including a 360-degree theater that shows the video The Greatest Race, learn about the painstaking procedure of breeding and training of young foals, and the long arduous path it takes to win the Run for the Roses and get to the Kentucky Derby’s winner circle. Enjoy lunch at the café which serves traditional Kentucky food – burgoo, hot brown and derby pie, and wash it down with an iconic ‘mint julep!’ Afterwards, embark on a guided tour of the Thoroughbred racetrack, Churchill Downs, a place most famous for hosting the annual Kentucky Derby which officially opened in 1875. Return to Louisville for a free afternoon to explore this beautiful city. Since its grand opening in 1835, your hotel has hosted a long list of dignitaries, including Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt and is the official hotel of the Kentucky Derby. GALT HOUSE HOTEL & SUITES. (D; B,L)
After breakfast, hit the Bourbon Trail. Visit the Jim Beam Distillery, produced in Clermont, globally one of the bestselling brands. Since 1795, only interrupted by Prohibition, seven generations of the same dynasty have been involved in whiskey production. Follow the trail to Bardstown. After lunch (on own) visit the Barton 1792 Distillery which produces several distilled spirits and liquors, including the renowned 1792 Ridgemont Reserve, a Kentucky straight Bourbon whiskey aged for eight years. There’s still time to visit the Heaven Hill Distilleries Bourbon Heritage Center for a hosted tour through the history, heritage and lore of Bourbon making and tasting at the multi-generational family owned and operated distillery. In the evening, settle into your Bardstown hotel. HAMPTON INN & SUITES. (B)
Take a walking tour of Bardstown, one of the first cities in Kentucky. Established in 1788, the downtown is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The regional production of Bourbon is celebrated by the annual Kentucky Bourbon Festival, whose promoters have trademarked the phrase, “Bourbon Capital of the World,” to apply exclusively to Bardstown. See the rustic Old Talbott Tavern, built in 1779, which served Bourbon to several notable Americans, including Abraham Lincoln and Daniel Boone. Bullet holes in an upstairs wall are reputed to have been shot by the outlaw Jesse James. Visit the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey, showcasing the history of the production of the spirit, and the Civil War Museum, one of the most important of its kind in the country. Continuing on the Bourbon Trail you reach the pristine, old-fashioned Maker’s Mark Distillery in Loretto, where Bourbon is still made by hand. Last, visit The Four Roses Bourbon Distillery in Lawrenceburg, established in 1888 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, known for its mellow Bourbon and Spanish Mission-style architecture. Conclude the day in Lexington. HYATT REGENCY. (B)
Catch your breath before your 11:00 a.m. drive down rural country roads to visit a National Historic Landmark, the Woodford Reserve Distillery in Versailles, the oldest and smallest working bourbon distillery and a National Historic Landmark, surrounded by deep green fields, endless white plank fences, and well-kept horse farms. Enjoy a picnic lunch, followed by a tour and tasting at the distillery, an assembly of several buildings made of wood, tile and stone, of which the oldest one dates back to 1838. If you still have the energy in the afternoon (and feel sober enough,) join a tour and tasting at the Alltech Lexington Brewing & Distilling Company. The distillery hand-bottles all of their Town Branch Bourbon, and is the home brewery of Kentucky Ale and Lyons Spirits, as well as two awardwinning beers, Kentucky Light and Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale. HYATT REGENCY. (B,L)
Your day starts at the Kentucky Horse Park, with the 2-3 hour Horse Farm Tour, a rare opportunity to see some of the most important horses to ever set foot on a racetrack and visit with the Thoroughbred celebrities at some of the most beautiful horse farms in the world. Tour the grounds of historic estates of the Bluegrass Region as well as impeccably-maintained, multi-million dollar farms of international movers and shakers. Hear behind-the-scenes stories about the individuals and horses that make Lexington ‘the Horse Capital of the World.’ Visit the International Museum of the Horse and the grounds to see the parade of breeds where 40 different breeds of horses are raised, and retired horse champions are given their well-deserved final home. Visit the farrier’s and harness maker’s shop, the Breeds Barn, the draft horse and carriage horse barns and the American Saddle Horse Museum, which exhibits the history of horse racing and breeding. Late afternoon head back to Lexington to enjoy a farewell dinner. HYATT REGENCY. (B,D)
It’s time to say good-bye to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, its green pastures, and champion horses. Transfer to the airport, not without packing one or two bottles of your favorite Bourbon, to be opened at home in a circle of friends.
Hit the road to Berea, Kentucky, home to a thriving population of weavers, instrument makers, furniture artisans, jewelry designers, glass workers, potters, painters, sculptors, and musicians, and have a chance to take a class at Weston Glass Studio. Next, head to Mammoth Caves National Park, the world’s longest known cave system with over 400 miles explored, but vast passages yet unexplored. Visit the Kentucky Down Under Animal Park and Zoo and National Corvette Museum en route to Nashville, Music City USA, and “Athens of the South.” Flavored with historic neighborhoods, abundant culture, and architectural beauty, and echoing an earlier American way of life, experience how days were spent in antebellum mansions and colonial estates on your visit to the Belle Meade Plantation house, and enjoy a visit to the Grand Ole Opry.
Does not include international or domestic flights. Prices are based on 10 or more travelers, and are subject to change.
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