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The Finest Discovery: Best Bourbon Distilleries in Louisville

Last Updated on August 21, 2023 by Lydia Martin

Step into the spirited world of Louisville, where the Kentucky Bourbon Trail comes alive. Embark on a captivating journey as we uncover the hidden gems, the crème de la crème, the absolute best Louisville distilleries.

From historical landmarks to innovative craft distilleries, join me as we raise our glasses and delve into the rich tapestry of flavors, craftsmanship, and hospitality that make these distilleries the pinnacle of bourbon excellence in the heart of downtown Louisville. 

So, tighten your taste buds and prepare for an unforgettable adventure through the bourbon country.

Introduction

The overview of the bourbon industry in Louisville

The bourbon industry in Louisville has a rich history and plays a significant role in the city’s culture and economy. Louisville, located in the heart of Kentucky, is often referred to as the “Bourbon Capital of the World.” [1]

The city is home to numerous bourbon distilleries that have contributed to the industry’s growth and reputation. 

These distilleries produce exceptional bourbon and offer immersive visitor experiences, showcasing the craftsmanship and heritage associated with this beloved spirit.

The impact of bourbon distilleries in Louisville

The impact of bourbon distilleries in Louisville extends beyond the production of whiskey. These distilleries attract tourists from around the world, generating tourism revenue and boosting the local economy. 

They also contribute to the preservation of bourbon-making traditions, supporting the heritage and cultural identity of Louisville.

Criteria for Selection

When determining the best bourbon distilleries in Louisville, several criteria were considered to ensure a comprehensive evaluation of each distillery’s merits:

Historical significance

Distilleries with a rich history and heritage were given preference. The historical significance of a distillery reflects its contribution to the bourbon industry and its connection to the traditions and legacy of Louisville.

Bourbon quality and craftsmanship

The quality of bourbon produced by each distillery was a key factor in the selection process. Attention was given to the distilleries that consistently produce high-quality bourbon, showcasing their expertise in the art of distillation and aging.

Visitor experience and tours

The distilleries that provide exceptional visitor experiences and engaging tours were prioritized. This includes factors such as the depth of information provided during the tours, the opportunities for hands-on experiences, and the overall hospitality and ambiance offered to visitors.

Distillery reputation and awards

The reputation of a distillery and its recognition within the industry were taken into account. Distilleries that have received prestigious awards and accolades for their bourbon were considered as they demonstrate a consistent commitment to excellence and craftsmanship.

a bottle and two glasses of half-filled, half-empty bourbon

The Best Bourbon Distilleries in Louisville

Evan Williams Bourbon Experience

Location: 528 W Main St, Louisville, KY 40202 | Telephone: +1 (502) 272-2611 | Website: www.evanwilliams.com

Historical background

Named after Evan Williams, a Welsh immigrant who established one of Kentucky’s first commercial distilleries in 1783. The Evan Williams Bourbon Experience pays tribute to his legacy.

Signature bourbons

  • Evan Williams Black Label: This is the distillery’s flagship bourbon, known for its smoothness and balanced flavors of caramel, vanilla, and oak.
  • Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintage: A premium offering, each bottle is selected from a single barrel, showcasing unique characteristics and a rich, full-bodied profile.
  • Evan Williams Bottled-in-Bond: Bottled at 100 proof, this bourbon follows the strict guidelines of the Bottled-in-Bond Act, ensuring high quality and consistency.
  • Evan Williams 1783 Small Batch: A small batch of bourbon with a higher corn content, offering a sweet and approachable flavor profile.

Tour details

Visitors can take guided tours to search the distillery’s history, see the working artisanal distillery, and participate in bourbon tasting. The experience includes interactive exhibits and a gift shop.

Distillery reputation

Evan Williams Bourbon Experience is highly regarded for its immersive and informative tours, showcasing the history and craftsmanship of Evan Williams Bourbon.

Awards

The distillery has received various accolades and awards for its bourbon, including medals from prestigious competitions such as the San Francisco World Spirits and International Wine & Spirits Competition.

Bulleit Frontier Whiskey Experience

Location: 3860 Fitzgerald Rd, Louisville, KY 40216 | Telephone: +1 (502) 822-4383 | Website: www.bulleit.com

Historical background

Bulleit is a well-known bourbon brand established by Tom Bulleit. The Bulleit Frontier Whiskey Experience offers insights into the brand’s history and distillation process.

Signature bourbons

  • Bulleit Bourbon: This high-rye bourbon is known for its bold and spicy character, featuring flavors of maple, vanilla, and a hint of dried fruit.
  • Bulleit Rye: A straight rye whiskey with a mash bill of 95% rye, delivering a robust and peppery profile with notes of cinnamon, mint, and caramel.
  • Bulleit Barrel Strength: This limited-edition bourbon is bottled at a higher proof, offering an intense and rich flavor experience with enhanced complexity.
  • Bulleit 10-Year-Old: A matured expression, aged for a decade, showcasing deeper flavors of toffee, dark chocolate, and toasted oak.

Tour details

The experience provides guided tours showcasing whiskey-making, barrel warehouses, and a tasting room. Visitors can learn about the brand’s heritage and enjoy tastings of Bulleit’s range of whiskeys.

Distillery reputation

Bulleit Frontier Whiskey Experience is well-known for its commitment to quality and its distinct flavor profile, appealing to bourbon enthusiasts worldwide.

Awards

Bulleit bourbons have garnered numerous awards, including recognition coming from the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, the World Whiskies Awards, and also the International Spirits Challenge.

Angel’s Envy Distillery

Location: 500 E Main St, Louisville, KY 40202 | Telephone: +1 (502) 890-6300 | Website: www.angelsenvy.com

Historical background

Angel’s Envy Distillery, located on Louisville’s Whiskey Rowis a craft distillery known for its unique bourbon-making approach. It was founded by Lincoln Henderson and later acquired by Bacardi. [2]

Signature bourbons

  • Angel’s Envy Kentucky Straight Bourbon: This small-batch bourbon undergoes additional aging in port wine barrels, imparting unique fruit and spice notes.
  • Angel’s Envy Rye: A rye whiskey finished in Caribbean rum casks, resulting in a complex flavor profile with hints of tropical fruits, caramel, and spice.
  • Angel’s Envy Cask Strength: A limited-edition release of their bourbon at cask strength, offering a higher proof and intensified flavors.
  • Angel’s Envy Port Finish: Another bourbon finished in port wine barrels; this expression displays rich flavors of dark berries, vanilla, and toasted oak.

Tour details

The distillery offers guided tours where visitors can learn about the brand’s distinctive aging and finishing techniques. The experience includes a tour of the distillery, barrel rooms, and a tasting room.

Distillery reputation

Angel’s Envy Distillery has gained a reputation for its innovative approach to bourbon whiskey making and its dedication to producing unique, high-quality spirits.

Awards

Angel’s Envy bourbons have received numerous accolades, including multiple “Whiskey of the Year” titles from reputable publications and top scores from whiskey critics and competitions.

Peerless Distilling Co.

Location: 120 N 10th St, Louisville, KY 40202 | Telephone: +1 (502) 566-4999 | Website: www.kentuckypeerless.com

Historical background

Peerless Distilling Co. has a rich history dating back to the late 1800s. It was revived in 2015 by the descendants of its original founder, Henry Kraver.

Signature bourbons

  • Peerless Straight Rye Whiskey: Known for its unique mash bill and lengthy aging process, this rye whiskey showcases a complex balance of spice, fruit, and oak.
  • Peerless Small Batch Bourbon: A carefully crafted small-batch bourbon featuring a high-rye mash bill and a rich, flavorful profile with notes of caramel, spice, and dried fruit.

Tour details

Visitors can take guided tours to witness the distilling process, including the distillery’s state-of-the-art equipment. The experience offers insights into the brand’s commitment to craftsmanship and small-batch production.

Distillery reputation

Peerless Distilling Co. is highly regarded for its commitment to craftsmanship, small-batch production, and the revival of its historical legacy.

Awards

Peerless bourbons have earned significant recognition, including recognition coming from the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, the American Craft Spirits Association, and other industry competitions.

one cocktail glass of bourbon garnished with orange peel

Rabbit Hole Distillery

Location: 711 E Jefferson St, Louisville, KY 40202 | Telephone: +1 (502) 289-8600 | Website: www.rabbitholedistillery.com

Historical background

Rabbit Hole Distillery is a modern and innovative distillery founded by Kaveh Zamanian in 2012. It combines traditional bourbon-making techniques with contemporary practices.

Signature bourbons

  • Rabbit Hole Bourbon: Crafted with a mix of corn, malted barley, and heirloom grains, this bourbon offers a well-balanced profile with notes of caramel, fruit, and spice.
  • Rabbit Hole Rye: A straight rye whiskey aged in new charred oak barrels, delivering a bold and spicy flavor profile with hints of black pepper, vanilla, and toasted oak.
  • Rabbit Hole Founder’s Collection: Limited editions and special releases that showcase the distillery’s experimental and innovative approach to bourbon production.

Tour details

A guided distillery tour provides a behind-the-scenes look at the distillery’s production methods, including its unique cylindrical glass elevator. Visitors can learn about the brand’s philosophy and taste their bourbons in the inviting tasting room.

Distillery reputation

Rabbit Hole Distillery has gained a reputation for its modern and innovative approach to bourbon production, combining traditional techniques with cutting-edge methods.

Awards

Rabbit Hole bourbons have received acclaim and accolades, earning medals and high ratings from esteemed competitions and whiskey connoisseurs.

Old Forester Distilling Co.

Location: 119 W Main St, Louisville, KY 40202 | Telephone: +1 (502) 929-3431 | Website: www.oldforester.com

Historical background

Old Forester is one of the oldest bourbon brands in the United States, with a history dating back to 1870. The distillery is now part of the Brown-Forman Corporation.

Signature bourbons

  • Old Forester 86 Proof: A classic bourbon with a balanced flavor profile featuring notes of caramel, vanilla, and a hint of spice.
  • Old Forester 100 Proof: A higher-proof expression, offering a more robust and intense flavor experience while maintaining the brand’s signature characteristics.
  • Old Forester Birthday Bourbon: An annual limited-edition release, this bourbon celebrates Old Forester’s founding with unique flavor profiles and exceptional quality.
  • Old Forester Statesman: Created in partnership with the film “Kingsman: The Golden Circle,” this bourbon offers a bold and rich character with layers of oak, caramel, and spice.

Tour details

The distillery offers guided tours that delve into the brand’s heritage and production techniques. Visitors can explore the distillery and cooperage and enjoy tastings of Old Forester bourbons.

Distillery reputation

Old Forester Distilling Co. is highly regarded as one of the oldest and most iconic bourbon brands, renowned for its consistent quality and rich history.

Awards

Old Forester bourbons have a long-standing tradition of excellence and have been honored with numerous awards and accolades, including gold medals from prestigious spirits competitions.

Michter’s Fort Nelson Distillery

Location: 801 W Main St, Louisville, KY 40202 | Telephone: +1 (502) 584-7180 | Website: www.michters.com

Historical background

Michter’s is a renowned bourbon brand with a history tracing back to the 18th century. The Fort Nelson Distillery is a revival of the brand’s historic site in Louisville.

Signature bourbons

  • Michter’s US1 Bourbon: A small-batch bourbon known for its smoothness and well-balanced flavors of caramel, vanilla, and toasted oak.
  • Michter’s US1 Rye: A single-barrel rye whiskey with a spicy and robust profile featuring notes of black pepper, cinnamon, and citrus.
  • Michter’s 10-Year Single Barrel Bourbon: Aged for a decade, this limited-release bourbon offers deep complexity with flavors of dark chocolate, dried fruits, and oak.
  • Michter’s 25-Year Single Barrel Bourbon: An ultra-aged bourbon, rare and highly sought-after, presenting an extraordinary array of flavors, including toffee, leather, and baking spices.

Tour details

Guided tours provide insights into Michter’s distilling process, including its small-batch production and barrel aging. The experience includes a visit to the historic Fort Nelson building and a tasting room.

Distillery reputation

Michter’s Fort Nelson Distillery is recognized for its commitment to producing premium and highly sought-after bourbons with a focus on exceptional quality.

Awards

Michter’s bourbons have received widespread acclaim, earning accolades from notable competitions, whiskey experts, and publications, showcasing their exceptional craftsmanship.

Louisville Distilling Co.

Location: 10510 W Manslick Rd, Fairdale, KY 40118 | Telephone: +1 (502) 859-0103 | Website: www.angelssharebourbon.com

Historical background

Louisville Distilling Co. is a craft distillery focused on producing Angel’s Share Bourbon, known for its unique aging process and flavor profile.

Signature bourbon

  • Angel’s Share Bourbon: Handcrafted with care, this small-batch bourbon offers a rich and velvety palate with notes of caramel, honey, and toasted oak.

Tour details

Visitors can take tours of the distillery to learn about Angel’s Share Bourbon production. The experience offers a glimpse into the brand’s dedication to craftsmanship and its commitment to small-batch production.

Distillery reputation

Louisville Distilling Co. is esteemed for its dedication to producing Angel’s Share Bourbon, focusing on small-batch, artisanal craftsmanship.

Awards

While specific awards for Louisville Distilling Co. may vary, Angel’s Share Bourbon has received recognition from respected whiskey competitions and critics for its quality and unique flavor profile.

Copper & Kings American Brandy Company

Location: 1121 E Washington St, Louisville, KY 40206 | Telephone: +1 (502) 561-0267 | Website: www.copperandkings.com

Historical background

Copper & Kings is primarily known for its brandy production but also produces bourbon. It prides itself on innovative distillation techniques and aging practices.

Signature bourbon

  • Copper & Kings American Craft Bourbon: Produced alongside their brandy, this bourbon showcases a unique flavor profile, combining traditional bourbon elements with the distillery’s distinctive distillation and aging techniques.

Tour details

Guided tours provide insights into the distillery’s unique bourbon and brandy production approach. Visitors can explore the facility, witness the distillation process, and enjoy tastings of their spirits.

Distillery reputation

Copper & Kings is highly regarded for its innovative approach to distilling and aging spirits, producing both exceptional brandy and bourbon.

Awards

While Copper & Kings primarily focuses on brandy production, their bourbon expressions have received positive reviews and acknowledgments in various competitions and tastings.

Heaven Hill Bernheim Distillery

Location: 120 N 10th St, Louisville, KY 40202 | Telephone: +1 (502) 566-4999 | Website: www.kentuckypeerless.com

Historical background

Kentucky Peerless Distilling Company was originally founded in the early 1900s and revived by Corky and Carson Taylor in 2014. It focuses on producing high-quality small-batch bourbon and rye whiskey.

Signature bourbons

  • Peerless Bourbon: A small-batch bourbon known for its high-quality craftsmanship and carefully selected ingredients, offering a rich and flavorful profile with notes of caramel, vanilla, and spice.
  • Peerless Rye: A straight rye whiskey crafted with a high rye content, delivering a spicy and robust flavor experience with hints of cinnamon, nutmeg, and toasted oak.

Tour details

The distillery offers guided tours that showcase its grain-to-bottle production process, including copper pot stills and barrel aging. Visitors can learn about the brand’s commitment to traditional distilling methods and taste their exceptional bourbons and rye whiskies.

Distillery reputation

Kentucky Peerless Distilling Company has gained recognition for its dedication to crafting high-quality small-batch bourbon and rye whiskey with a focus on traditional methods.

Awards

Peerless bourbons have earned numerous accolades and medals, showcasing their exceptional quality and craftsmanship, as acknowledged by renowned spirits competitions and whiskey enthusiasts.

FAQs

What distilleries on the Bourbon Trail are in Louisville?

Within a one-mile stretch of Main Street in Louisville, there are four KBTTM distilleries, conveniently located near the Frazier Museum when you turn left:

  • Evan Williams Bourbon Experience
  • Bulleit Frontier Whiskey Experience
  • Angel’s Envy Distillery
  • Peerless Distilling Co.
  • Rabbit Hole Distillery
  • Old Forester Distilling Co.
  • Michter’s Fort Nelson Distillery

What is Louisville known for bourbon?

Louisville is known as the “Bourbon Capital of the World.” The city has a rich bourbon heritage and is home to numerous bourbon distilleries.

Louisville plays a significant role in the bourbon industry, contributing to its production, tourism, and cultural identity.

What is the oldest bourbon distillery in Kentucky?

Barton 1792 Distillery, located in Bardstown, Kentucky, is one of the oldest bourbon distilleries in the state.

It traces its roots back to 1879, when it was established as the Tom Moore Distillery.

What is the largest bourbon distillery in Kentucky?

The Heaven Hill Bernheim Distillery, located in Louisville, Kentucky, is one of the largest bourbon distilleries in the state.

It has a production capacity of over one million barrels and is known for producing a wide range of bourbon brands.

References

  1. https://www.bourboncountry.com/plan-your-visit/bourbon-country-regions/louisville/
  2. https://www.angelsenvy.com/us/en/distillery-tours/

 

Lydia Martin

Lydia Martin hails from Redmond, Washington, where you’ll find some of the best cocktail bars and distilleries that offer a great mix of local drinks. She used to work as a bar manager in Paris and is a self-taught mixologist whose passion for crafting unique cocktails led her to create Liquor Laboratory. Lydia can whip up a mean Margarita in seconds! Contact at [email protected] or learn more about us here.

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