A state of mind

A state of mind

The state of Kentucky offers the whiskey lover a great deal of choice. But there's plenty for the non bourbon drinker too.

Travel | 05 Jun 2009 | Issue 80 | By Rob Allanson

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You don’t have to come from Kentucky to make bourbon, but it sure helps.Nearly all the great bourbons are produced in the state and if you base yourself in the state’s largest city, Louisville, you’re well placed to visit them all.Until recently Kentucky didn’t make as much of its whiskey heritage as it could have done, but with several distilleries now investing heavily in visitor facilities the local tourist authorities have begun to get their act together.The Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau in particular has in recent months has been doing outstanding work in providing bourbon with a proper place at the heart of the region’s tourism.Kentucky isn’t all about whiskey though. It is a fascinating state rich in history and culture and with a varied and stimulating geography and there is plenty for the non whiskey lover to enjoy.If you do enjoy a bourbon or two, there are two trails to pursue.One takes you round the state to the distilleries themselves, the other is an urban trail round the best bourbon-influenced bars and restaurants in Louisville itself. The cuisine in the city is outstanding.For more information on Kentucky and its tourism, visit www.gotolouisville.com HOW TO GET THERE The main city of Kentucky is Louisville and it has its own international airport. To fly there, however, requires flying with one of the major airlines to another hub, with New York, Chicago, Detroit, and Memphis offering several flights to Louisville each day. Most European airlines have an American partner.Alternatively, there are direct flights from Europe to North Kentucky Airport though this doesn’t necessarily make the journey quicker. The airport is actually on the outskirts of Cincinnati about 100 miles away from Louisville and requires a short internal flight or a lengthy cab ride.Once in Louisville there are a large number of accommodation options and all the main international hotel groups are here, as well as the cheaper Days Inn and other motel options.Travelling in Kentucky is not easy without hiring a car, but Mint Julep Tours offers a variety of exploration opportunities in Kentucky including historic Louisville tours, visits to bourbon distilleries and horse country, and custom tours. There are half day and day tours to distilleries and you can speak to the company about working to an itinerary to suit you.www.mintjuleptours.com.Car hire will cost you from $50 to $100 a day.BOURBON TRAIL Most distilleries offer tourism facilities of one kind or other and the distilleries vary considerably so viewing a few is a worthwhile experience for the bourbon lover. Here is a guide to the principal ones BUFFALO TRACE Franklin County Large and impressive distillery and home to George T Stagg, Eagle Rare and the Van Winkle range as well as Buffalo Trace itself.The hard hat tour offered is one of the best tours you’ll find anywhere in the world.Tel: +1 502 696 5926 FOUR ROSES Lawrenceburg Very pretty distillery with new visitor facilities.Tel: +1 502 839 3436 HEAVEN HILL Bardstown The newish visitor center offers the best introduction to bourbon and the chance to taste some fabulous bourbon. Home to Elijah Craig and Evan Williams.Tel: +1 502 337 1000 JIM BEAM Clermont The large production facilities aren’t open to the public, but the quaint tourist attraction at the site called the Jim Beam American Outpost is worth a visit.Tel: +1 502 543 9877 MAKER’S MARK Loretto Idyllic picture postcard distillery with a great new visitor center and bar. A must-see attraction.Tel: +1 270 865 2881 WILD TURKEY Lawrenceburg Buried in the heart of Kentucky among great scenery and with a solid and informative tour offering.Tel: +1 502 839 4544 WOODFORD RESERVE Versailles Another pretty boutique distillery set in horse breeding country and with an unusual production process featuring copper pot stills.Tel: +1 859 879 1812 LOUISVILLE URBAN BOURBON TRAIL Kentucky isn’t all about deep fried chicken and nor is it about grits and gravy. These days the state, and particularly Louisville can boast some excellent cuisine.Kentucky food isn’t chloresterolshy, however, and rich cheeses and healthy servings of meat are both common-place. The state is known for its homely cooking style,best experienced at Kurtz Restaurant at Bardstown. In Louisville itself the urban bourbon trail offers a delightful mix of meat and fish dishes and a diverse array of international cuisine. Crab, shrimp, scallop and sea bass are all readily available and for the finest cuisine head down to the Galt House, where Revue offers superb salads and delightful seafood.THE BAR AT BLU WJefferson Street Tel: +1 502 627 5045 BOURBONS BISTRO Frankfort Avenue Tel: +1 502 894 8838 THE BROWNS HOTEL BAR WBroadway Tel: +1 502 324 1389 JOCKEY SILKS BOURBON BAR N 4th Street Tel: +1 502 589 5200 MAKER’S MARK BOURBON HOUSE S 4th Street Tel: +1 502 568 9009 THE OLD SEELBACH BAR S 4th Street Tel: +1 502 585 3200 PARK PLACE ON MAIN EMain Street Tel: +1 502 515 0172 PROOF ON MAIN WMain Street Tel: +1 502 217 6360 FIVE ATTRACTIONS FOR THE NON-WHISKEY TRAVELLER MUHAMMED ALI CENTER Louisville Very interesting and informative place to visit.www.alicenter.org Tel +1 502 584 9254 INTERNATIONAL BLUEGRASS MUSIC MUSEUM Owensboro Covers everything about this unique music style from the history and the story of pioneers such as Bill Monroe, through to modern and changing exhibits and demonstrations, concerts and festivals.Tel: +1 270 926 7891 CHEROKEE TRAIL OF TEARS COMMEMORATIVE PARK Hopkinsville The park recognises the history of the forced journey made by many Cherokee and the suffering they endured. It’s also the burial place for two Cherokee chiefs and includes an original log cabin as a heritage centre.CHURCHILL DOWNS AND KENTUCKY DERBY MUSEUM Louisville The complete history of what has been described as ‘the greatest two minutes in sport’.Set overt two floors in contains a large number of horse racing related interactive exhibits and a 360 degree high definition video presentation.www.derbymuseum.org Tel: +1 502 637 7097 ABRAHAM LINCOLN’S BIRTHPLACE NATIONAL HERITAGE SITE Lawrenceburg The cabin in which the great president was born is housed in a marble monument on the site and there is a visitor centre with video presentation.Tel: +1 270 538 3137
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