Travel

Trails across the States

Your guide to some of the best American whiskey trails
By Maggie Kimberl
Tourism at Bourbon distilleries has been around for a long time. Colonel E.H Taylor built the Old Taylor Distillery, now Castle & Key, to be a showplace where people could come and spend the day, and later Julian P. Van Winkle, along with his business partners Alex Farnsley and Arthur Stitzel built Stitzel–Weller in a similar fashion. While this is an industry that has thrived on partnership between what would be rival businesses in any other industry, it wasn’t until 1999 that the Kentucky Distillers’ Association finally launched The Kentucky Bourbon Trail in an effort to encourage tourists to visit more than one distillery and to actually plan entire trips around distillery tourism.

Since then, distillery tourism has grown exponentially. Between 2015 and 2018 alone, tourism numbers spiked more than 1.6 times from one million people a year to 1.65 million people a year. Louisville launched The Urban Bourbon Trail and the KDA launched the Craft Distillers’ Trail, the former to give Bourbon Trail tourists something to do at night when they stayed in Louisville, and the latter as a small distillery alternative for those who wanted to see more than the big guys.

Later came The B Line in Northern Kentucky, a combination of distilleries, bars, and restaurants in the Southern suburbs of Cincinnati, Ohio, the Wine and Whiskey Trail in Bullitt County, and many more, and that’s just those in Kentucky. What about the rest of the United States?

Now, thanks to the craft whiskey boom, most people in the United States are just a few hours drive from a distillery that gives tours. There may even be a distillery trail of some sort near you in areas where the craft distillery movement was adopted early on. Many states produce a wide variety of spirits, including rum, gin, vodka, and more, but there’s always a whiskey distillery in the mix.

Check out these whiskey trails across the United States for more distillery tour options after you’ve completed the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.

Whiskey Trails Across The USA

Virginia Spirits Trail
There are more than just whiskey distilleries on offer, but that doesn’t mean you can’t spend an entire long weekend visiting places like George Washington’s Mount Vernon Distillery and Gristmill, The Virginia Distillery Co., Catoctin Creek, Copper Fox, KO Distilling, A. Smith Bowman, and more. This trail also has suggestions for attractions and food and drink along the way. virginiaspirits.org/trail

Whiskey Rebellion Trail
In the Northeastern United States, an area known for its many styles of rye whiskey, this whiskey trail memorialises one of the most misunderstood pieces of American history. The Whiskey Rebellion is often hailed as the time whiskey makers had enough and refused to pay their taxes, but the fact that George Washington himself led 13,000 troops to enforce the nation’s first tax is often conveniently forgotten. This guided trail spans from Philadelphia to Washington DC and Baltimore and it includes history and distillery stops with tour options from $17–$359. whiskeyrebelliontrail.com

American Whiskey Trail
This whiskey trail is supported by the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) and includes distilleries and historic sites spanning multiple states, several of which are in Kentucky and also part of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. americanwhiskeytrail.com

Tennessee Whiskey Trail
Jack Daniel’s is the best selling American whiskey in the world, but for the longest time this and George Dickel were the only distilleries to speak of in the state. Now, thanks to the craft boom, there are more than two dozen distilleries to visit across The Volunteer State. tnwhiskeytrail.com
Come Find Bourbon. The CFB Trail encompasses Kentucky’s smaller Bourbon towns, Frankfort, Covington, and Bardstown, where Bourbon plays a central role in daily life. comefindbourbon.com

Texas Whiskey Trail
Everything's bigger in Texas, and the whiskey trail is so expansive it’s broken up into three regions. In the North Texas Trail you can visit distilleries such as Ironroot Republic and Balcones. In Hill Country you can visit Treaty Oak and Garrison Brothers among others, and on the Gulf Coast there are just two distilleries: Gulf Coast and MKT. texaswhiskeytrail.com

Colorado Spirits Trail
This trail is more than just whiskey, though you can visit big craft whiskey names like Stranahan’s, Breckenridge Distillery, Leopold Brothers, Old Elk, and more – 62 distilleries in total! coloradospiritstrail.com

The Darke County Whiskey, Wine and Ale Trail
Some trails combine spirits, wine, and beer to capture tourists from all three. The only distillery on this trail is Indian Creek Distillery, but in this county alone you can also visit three breweries and four wineries as well. whiskeywineandaletrail.com

Washington Distillery Trail
The interactive map for this distillery trail is broken up into nine spirits categories from Agave to brandy and gin to whiskey. The map markers state clearly which category each stop falls under, allowing users to plan the best route to see the more than two dozen whiskey stops and more across the state, including Westland, Dry Fly, and Bainbridge. washingtondistillerytrail.com

New York State Distillery Trails
You can choose to visit 10 distilleries in the New York City metro area to see Widow Jane and Kings County distilleries or visit one of the other two regions in the state. In the Hudson Valley section visit Coppersea, Hillrock Estate, and more, or check out the Western trail. nydistilled.com/trails

Drink Michigan
There are more distilleries in Michigan than the two dozen on this trail, so if you want to stick to whiskey distilleries exclusively you’ll have to do your homework. That said, there are plenty of stops to choose from across the state.
drinkmichigan.org/spirits

Philly Distillery Trail
In the City of Brotherly Love you’ll find 11 spirits distilleries, including Dad’s Hat, makers of several award–winning rye whiskeys. phillydistillerytrail.com

Whiskey Row Portland
A dozen distilleries in this hip town mean something for everyone, but if you want to stick to whiskey you still have plenty of options, from Westward Whiskey to a whiskey-making class at the New Deal Distillery.
distilleryrowpdx.com
American whiskey trails
American whiskey trails