If you don't know Kentucky for horses, you probably know it for bourbon.  We like to think that we know it for both.  Kentucky, specifically Lexington is proudly known as horse country.  The long tradition of horse racing is something that is pretty special to true Kentuckians.

Kentucky's popularity around the world has been growing, but for another reason than horses. Bourbon is the new thing, and you can find all kinds of it all across the state.  With Dave's love for bourbon and Jessica's love for planning a new adventure, we decided to take a couple days and cross four more distilleries off our list.  To take a look at Bourbon Country Part One that includes Maker's Mark, Buffalo Trace, Town Branch and Woodford Reserve, click HERE

In this post, we're going to share our visits to Willett, Four Roses, Wild Turkey and Barton.  Two of these are in Bardstown and the other two are in Lawrenceburg.  This made it easy to make the most of our time and head from one to the next.  If you're headed to a certain distillery, we always recommend checking out if there are any others close.  There always seems to be at least one!

1869 Loretto Road
Bardstown, KY 40004
(502) 348-0899

Tour Information:
$12 for Adults 21 and Over
Duration is Between 45 Minutes to an Hour
Reservations for Tours are Recommended    
Monday – Saturday: 10:00am – 4:00pm, on the hour
Sunday: 12:30pm
3:30pm, on the hour (April – December)
Tour Includes Souvenir Willett Distillery Glass 

Willett is an independent and family-owned distillery that dates back to 1936.  It sits just on the outskirts of Bardstown, Kentucky.  Once you're in the town, it's a short drive to the distillery.  

We've been to a handful of distilleries and each are so different and unique.  We loved Willett.  It is a smaller operation and the appearance of everything is old.  We really appreciated this about the distillery.  It would be a beautiful background for special photos.  

It's literally like a dream when you pull up to the grounds.  You're stepping back into the 1930's... at least until you reach the newly renovated Visitor Center.

Willett is working hard to restore the main distillery building, aging warehouses and several other aspects of the grounds.  There is something special about keeping these things they way they've always been in such a booming industry.  

You'll see the newness at the Visitor Center and the soon-to-be bed and breakfast... because who wouldn't want to stay at a bed and breakfast at a bourbon distillery?  Sign us up!  With lots of construction happening at Willett, we'd recommend even more so than normal to touch base with the distillery before you visit to ensure that tours (and tastings) are taking place. 

Willett bourbon comes in an iconic Pot Still bottle.  You actually get to see the Pot Still on the tour and learn about its history of how it became the bottle design.  We are always so fascinated about things we learn on the tours and it's exciting when you have noticed something about a particular bourbon, brand or bottle and then hear about the story behind it while you're there. 

Unlike most distillery tours, Willett is a little different when it comes to the tasting at the end.  Everyone is able to taste a couple of the bourbons under the Willett brand and then they pull out a whole slew of additional bourbons under the brand and you get to choose the last one that you try.

1224 Bonds Mill Road
Lawrenceburg, KY 40342
(502) 839-3436

Four Roses was our first distillery stop in Lawrenceburg.  This is another distillery that has lots of construction taking place.  The day we visited they had a huge crane on property.  With all of the construction, it wasn't the ideal time to visit.  However, we still learned a lot about their brand and its history.  Plus, the one thing that the construction doesn't interfere with is the tasting!

The tours at Four Roses are currently modified to accommodate the growth... like doubling their production kind of growth.  It's a crazy exciting time in the bourbon industry, and the growth is really unbelievable.  Construction was a big bummer when it came to the tour, but Four Roses made a peace offering with a complimentary tasting glass for all guests over the age of 21.

From the moment you spot the distillery, you notice a unique difference between it and several others.  Four Roses was built in 1910 with Spanish mission-style architecture and is even listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  It operates continuously, minus a couple of summer months, which is typical with most bourbon distilleries.

While we were walking around the grounds, our tour guide spotted the CEO and pointed HER out to us.  Women working in the bourbon industry are much harder to come by than men.  So, when we learned that the CEO of Four Roses was a women and we actually got to see her it was pretty cool.
It made Jessica like Four Roses even more.  #girlboss

Even though we didn't get to see a lot on our tour at Four Roses due to construction, we learned a lot of neat things like the meaning of the name Four Roses, that their CEO is a woman and that if you take a closer look (it's cut out of most) at the iconic WWII Kissing Photo you'll see an advertisement for Four Roses at the top.  Seriously, google it!

Tour Information:
$5 per Visitor
Monday – Saturday: 9:00am – 3:00pm, on the hour
Sunday: 12:00pm – 3:00pm, on the hour
Reservations for Tours are Recommended (Especially for Groups) 
Within 60 Days of Tour, Visit the Warehouse & Bottling Facility at No Extra Charge
Their Motto (which we love): Be Mellow.  Be Responsible.

1417 Versailles Road
Lawrenceburg, KY 40342
(502) 839-2182

So here's the thing about Wild Turkey, we aren't all that crazy about their bourbon.  Wild Turkey 101 gives you what they call a "Kentucky hug."  You'll feel it in your chest going down and it's certainly not a bourbon that we'd pull out to sip on, in fact it isn't even in our collection.  Or maybe it was, and we let a few guests (who really did love it) finish it off... whoops! 

We do however enjoy some other bourbons that are under the Wild Turkey brand like Russell's (6 year, 10 year and single barrel) and, just because we don't love 101 doesn't mean we'd count Wild Turkey out.  Plus, we found a Wild Turkey bourbon during the tasting that now is part of our collection: Wild Turkey Rare Breed.  Hey you've gotta get a souvenir, right?

Wild Turkey likes to say that their bourbon comes in many breeds, discover them all.  We would agree that all bourbon comes in breeds and you really should try a few before counting out bourbon altogether.  You'll be amazed at the differences and may actually find one that you really like.

If you're into bourbon, you know that a lot of what makes it special is the history and the aging.  Wild Turkey is rare when it comes to its master distillers.  Jimmy Russell is the world's longest-tenured master distiller.  For more than 60 years he has preserved a tradition that dates back generations.  

In 2015 his son, Eddie Russell, was promoted to master distiller alongside his dad after 35 years with the brand.  It's truly a family affair and to have TWO master distillers in one family is pretty cool, not to mention the father/son relationship.

Credit: Wild Turkey

If you're not into bourbon then you might be into Matthew McConaughey, or you probably at least know who he is.  In 2016, Wild Turkey named Matthew McConaughey the brand's creative director.  The gig was designed for McConaughey to serve as the chief storyteller for Wild Turkey both behind the camera and in front of it.  Smart move by Wild Turkey?  We think so! 

Tour Information:
Tours Start at $10 per Person
Monday – Saturday: Tours leave on the hour from 9am – 4pm
Sunday: Tours leave on the hour from 11am – 3pm
Open Sundays from March through December
For Groups 15 of Larger, Make a Reservation
Tour Includes Bus Rides to Access Various Areas of the Property 

Our final stop of the day was Barton Distillery which is literally in the town of Bardstown.  Barton 1792 was established in 1879 and prides itself on being the oldest fully-operating Distillery in Bardstown.  It is located in the heart of bourbon country on 196 acres.  We didn't know anyone who had visited this distillery (and Dave doesn't love the bourbon), so we weren't sure what to expect.  

Before heading to Barton, we decided we'd stop in Bardstown for lunch.  Lunch is important when you start bourbon tours at 9am.  We parked downtown and ventured to find a lunch spot we hadn't visited before.  We settled on Pat's Place.  Dave grabbed a burger and Jessica had a BLT.  The restaurant was a mom and pop style cafe and was packed - you can't go wrong with either of those.
300 Barton Road
Bardstown, KY 40004
(866) 239-4690

Tour Information:
All Tours are Complimentary 
Tours take off from the Gift Shop on the Hour
Monday – Saturday: 9am – 3pm
Walk Ins are Welcome, but Make Reservations for Groups
This is an Hour Long Tour

When you visit distilleries, you'll notice that several of them have outdoor spaces.  We love these!  They provide a great area for people to hang out and enjoy the grounds while waiting on a tour.  Barton had some unique features to their additional outdoor space that is actually open to the public to picnics, or whatever else.  Lunch break would certainly come with a view!

We must admit, our tour at Barton ended up being our favorite.  There are a couple of reasons for this that were completely out of our control and maybe we just got a little lucky but none the less, we loved the Barton tour.

For starters, our guide was amazing!  We've been on several tours, you name it - distillery, winery, brewery, we've probably done it.  Needless to say, with having been on a lot of tours you interact with a lot of tour guides.  

If we're being honest, some just aren't that great at their job (sorry!) and they really have the ability to make or break your experience.  A major bonus was that she offered to take all kinds of pictures of us together.  That isn't something you get often, so we took her up on it and are thankful to have so many pictures together form the day.  Our tour wasn't big which made this easier for her to do.

There was a group of four who toured with us that was from another spirits company in California.  About half way through the tour someone who worked at Barton pulled them away to show them some stuff that wasn't included on the typical visitors tour.  

With that, our awesome tour guide wasn't about to be showed up... so we ended up getting a look at a handful of things that the normal tour doesn't cover either.  It was the best!  

We jumped on a golf cart and she showed us around the grounds, took us into the biggest warehouse and gave us a taste from the spring fountain.  The spring fountain is something that you'd have access to even if it isn't on your tour.  

All you have to do is drive up the large hill on the property to find it.  That's also where the great picnic area is tucked away.  The water was seriously soooo good. Our tour guide told us that's where she refills her water bottle from throughout the entire day.  She was a hoot!

The greatest part of the tasting (remember, Dave isn't a huge fan of Barton bourbon) was the Chocolate Bourbon Ball Cream Liqueur followed by the very best bourbon balls we've EVER had, and we've had a lot of bourbon balls.  

Muth's Candies in Louisville, Kentucky make Barton's bourbon balls.  Muth's (Louisville's oldest & finest) is run by a fourth generation German family.  They are seriously the best bourbon balls! 

Since our visit to Barton, we have actually made a pit stop in Louisville just for these babies.  Yes they really are that good and yes, you can order them online. #yourewelcome

We love checking out distilleries.  Even if we aren't huge fans of the actual bourbon, we still enjoy learning about the process and learning about all of the differences from distillery to distillery.  We've crossed several off our list and only have one more to visit on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.  

It didn't take long for a Kentucky Bourbon Craft Trail to develop.  We've still got quite a handful left on that list, as they are spread out all over the state.  One by one we'll continue to check them off.  

We won't stop loving bourbon anytime soon, and we don't see the world dropping the trend either.  Bourbon is booming and although it makes it awfully tricky to get your hands on some of the best bottles now, we are proud of the growth it has created for our Old Kentucky Home. 

If you missed our Bourbon Country posts that feature visits to other distilleries on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail and Craft Trail you can find them here:

BOURBON COUNTRY PART ONE - Maker's Mark, Buffalo Trace, Town Branch and Woodford Reserve
BOURBON COUNTRY PART THREE - Old Forrester and Angel's Envy

We also shared a few recommendations HERE that apply no matter which distillery you are visiting. 

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