Due to high demand, advanced reservations at bourbon distilleries, area attractions and restaurants are highly recommended. Luckily, we’ve got you covered if you didn’t plan in advance with these ‘mostly’ walk-right-in Bourbon experiences:
Since many of Louisville’s Bourbon distilleries have reduced tour capacities, make sure you snag a tour reservation in advance. Though if you don't score a spot or are gearing up for a last-minute Bourbon City weekend visit, here are some other sipping options outside of the traditional distillery tours.
This museum encourages guests to explore 1,000 years of history with the ‘Tiny Tours & Tastings’ program. Guests have access to all the exhibits throughout the museum, including learning the history of Bourbon in the official Kentucky Bourbon Trail Welcome Center and The Spirit of Kentucky exhibition. Plus, there is an option to add on a guided Bourbon tasting for patrons that are over 21. Their gift shop is also a treasure trove of specialty Bourbon bottles for sale, often offering those hard-to-find collector bottles.
A second tour options is the Ready, Set Go! Bourbon experience, offering first & second day admission to the museum and a spot in one of their guided, multi-brand Bourbon tastings conducted in the Order of the Writ Room. Offered Thursday-Saturday only.
Kentucky Derby Museum, Bourbon & Bridles Tour
Combine two of Kentucky’s most treasured icons: bourbon and Thoroughbreds. This hour-long experience starts with an exciting tour at Churchill Downs, intertwining the history of bourbon and horse racing in Kentucky. At the end, learn how to make a mint julep, and of course, sip one! The tour ends inside the Derby Cafe Express at the Museum, an official stop on Louisville’s Urban Bourbon Trail where guests can get their Urban Bourbon Trail passport stamped. There, guests will enjoy a bourbon tasting along with an interactive lesson on how to make the famous Mint Julep, and then taste one. Offered Thursdays & Fridays, 2:00 pm.
Justins’ House of Bourbon
Owned by two Justins – Justin Sloan and Justin Thompson, who began collecting Bourbon 10 years ago, with Thompson also starting the well-known Bourbon magazine, “The Bourbon Review” in 2008. You know they mean business with a whiskey historian on staff. Not only does Justins’ House of Bourbon have a bar to belly up to, but also offers a cozy tasting room along with the ability to sell bottles from their two walls worth of bottled Bourbon. If you contact them in advance, they will put a tasting flight customized to your budget –including rare sips. They also double as a Bourbon museum as they have quite the collection of hard-to-find and antique bottles along with memorabilia on display, with everything for sale for the right price. If you are looking to scour the shelf for specialty Bourbon, you’re bound to be able to find something here.
Owned by Nicole Stipp and Kaitlyn Soligan Owen, two women who delight patrons with flights, fancies and events designed for whiskey enthusiasts and the Bourbon curious – with beer, wine and margaritas for everyone else. The dynamic duo refer to the bar as the “Rainbow Palace of Whiskey Dreams.” And you really can dream, not only do these two ladies offer Bourbon tastings and event space, but they also want to serve tourists by booking trips through their travel company, Matson & Gilman.
Urban Bourbon Trail
Save time to traverse Louisville’s Urban Bourbon Trail®️, a mouthwatering cocktail and culinary experience highlighting the city’s best Bourbon bars and restaurants. This elevated “pub crawl” will have you sipping Kentucky’s finest at more than 40 local establishments, each stocked with at least 60 different Bourbons. Don’t forget to bring your appetite as you can savor Bourbon-infused food dishes from appetizers to desserts. Check-in from at least six different locations to receive a coveted UBT t-shirt and become an official Urban Bourbon trailblazer. Call ahead as some establishments may be closed or have alternate hours. Kentucky currently allows 50% capacity indoors, but that is subject to change.
Westport Whiskey and Wine
This is another place to discover Bourbons that are hard-to-find and those you’ll come to appreciate as day-to-day favorites. Stop by their tasting room and chat with co-owner Chris Zaborowski, noted whiskey authority and Executive Bourbon Steward. They offer special classes with tastings led by Master Distillers. Be sure to check their calendar for ‘Thursday Night Socials’ where they offer a special cocktail and promote flights of the week. This has a maximum capacity of 15 people, with mask requirements and proper social distancing. Pro tip: Sign up for their emails at the bottom of their website to be in the know on upcoming events.
Oak and Smoke
For centuries, whiskey connoisseurs have known the pleasure of sipping a barrel aged spirit while enjoying a fine cigar. Have local cigar expert J. Shepherd guide you through a pairing combination based on your unique flavor profiles. A visit to J. Shepherd Cigar Boutique on Bardstown Road in the eclectic Highlands neighborhood is a fun way to stock up on the cigars you’ll want to add to your humidor. Just tell Jason your favorite whiskeys and he will perfectly pair them with personally selected cigars based on the nuances of taste and aroma in both. You’ll also get the tasting notes to share with your smoking buddies. Or stick around and join the regular crew that are typically puffing away the afternoon on the porch.
Taste Fine Wines & Bourbons
Located in the vibrant NuLu neighborhood, Taste looks for Kentucky distillers who produce in smaller batches, controlling quality and creating bourbons with smooth, rich flavors. The wine and bourbon tasting menu changes weekly and they have more than 290 bourbons and whiskeys open to taste, along with charcuterie boards and cheese plates.
Just 20 minutes from downtown Louisville awaits a 19th-century estate, working thoroughbred farm and farm-to-table restaurant reimagined through 21st-century eyes. Join their tasting guides in learning about Kentucky’s rich bourbon heritage while enjoying flights of select bourbons. Guided tastings are enjoyable for bourbon connoisseurs and novices alike. Online reservations required 24 hours in advance.
The Bourbon Bar & Lounge is located inside Barn8 Restaurant and offers bourbons from every distillery on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, plus exceptional small-batch selections and an assortment of unique craft distilleries.
From a foal’s first steps to the final turn of the track at Churchill Downs, you’ll be able to explore every facet of a Thoroughbred’s life on the Hermitage Farm / Derby Museum Tour. Guests will start at the Museum and watch Thoroughbreds thundering down the stretch at Churchill Downs during their morning workouts, and then view the Museum’s epic 18-minute film “The Greatest Race” which immerses you in the Kentucky Derby. A shuttle then takes you through beautiful farmland to Hermitage Farm. Here you will experience its renowned Thoroughbred operations, sustainable, organic farm-to-table lunch, a bourbon cocktail class, and contemporary art.
Bourbon themed Lodging
Why not make your stay soaked in a Bourbon experience from sunrise to sundown by staying in one of these themed accommodations:
Experience this magnificent Victorian Mansion in Louisville’s classic Old Louisville neighborhood, restored with all modern amenities. A stay at the Bourbon Inn offers a look at the genuine Bourbon heritage of Kentucky including the Bourbon themed décor, Bourbon infused breakfasts, desserts and gift shop offerings. Plus, overnight guests may also purchase and enjoy Bourbon cocktails on site. Old Louisville has the largest collection of restored Victorian homes in the country and is the third largest Historical Preservation District in the U.S.
Chateau Bourbon B&B
A great choice for travelers seeking comfort with a splash of Bourbon in a down-home atmosphere from the welcoming front porch to the comfortable backyard swings. Located in the heart of Norton Commons, a unique and vibrant walkable community just 10 miles from downtown Louisville. Whether you’re a Bourbon newbie or a self-proclaimed Bourbon nerd, they have the ‘spirited’ experience you’re looking for.
Newly opened on Louisville’s Whiskey Row in October 2019, Hotel Distil is a Marriott Autograph Collection boutique hotel celebrating Louisville’s Bourbon heritage. Hotel Distil incorporates an original 1860’s era façade, which was saved following a fire in 2015, and was the original location and barrel house for J.T.S. Brown and Sons. The hotel’s décor pays homage to the Bourbon culture, along with offering a unique guest cocktail experience with a nightly toast to celebrate the repeal of Prohibition. The hotel’s three dining options include Repeal, an oak-fired steakhouse, Bitters End, an open-air rooftop bar, complete with a retractable glass roof and The Barrel Room, a private 15-person space with a separate bar.
Louisville Marriott East
Settle in for some serious southern hospitality in the heart of the East End. Drink your way through the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® and find sanctuary in their Bourbon-inspired rooms. Dine at Charr’d Bourbon Kitchen and Lounge, a stop on Urban Bourbon Trail®, where you can sample some of their 200 Bourbon varieties and indulge in Bourbon-centric dishes.
For dining options (reservations suggested), use check out our Louisville Eats page.
For more things to do in Louisville be sure to check out our calendar of events.