Bourbon is America’s only native spirit. And almost all bourbon- 95% according to the Kentucky Distillers Association – is produced in Kentucky. Kentucky Bourbon is the largest export category of all U.S. spirits, shipping more than 28 million proof gallons to 126 countries in 2010.(Source)
By definition, bourbon is a whiskey made from a mash containing at least 51 percent corn.
In the early American colonies whiskey was made with rye and used as a medicine and a general aid to well-being. Kentucky settlers gave whiskey several new twists, beginning with corn, which was abundant since settlers could claim 400 acres if they built a cabin and grew a patch of corn.
Here are our top 6 picks for touring bourbon distilleries in Lexington, Kentucky :
- The Woodford Reserve. This restored historic distillery in Woodford County, is a showplace of the distiller’s art and Kentucky bourbon heritage.
- Wild Turkey Distillery. Although the Wild Turkey brand of bourbon wasn’t introduced until 1952 (supposedly named because the hunting partners of then- company president Thomas McCarthy loved the bourbon he always brought along on their annual turkey shoot), the lineage of bourbon and bourbon making at this site at the Kentucky River near Lawrenceburg goes back to the mid 19th-century.
- Buffalo Trace Chicken isn’t the only Kentucky product that has resulted from a Colonel’s secret recipe. At Buffalo Trace distillery, north of Frankfort, you’ll see a statue of Albert Bacon Blanton. The son of Benjamin Blanton, who began making whiskey at this location along the Kentucky River in the late 1860s.
- Four Roses Distilling Company. Four Roses near Lawrenceburg, gives tours to individuals and small groups Mondays through Saturdays.
- Town Branch Distillery. Alltech’s distillery is right downtown, steps away from Rupp Arena and the Lexington Center. It is the first distillery to be built in Lexington in nearly 100 years.
- James E. Pepper Distilling Co. In Lexington’s popular Distillery District, this distillery occupies the same building as the one built in 1879. Flamboyant entrepreneur Colonel James E. Pepper (1850-1906) was a third generation distiller from a family that began producing Bourbon during the American Revolution.