They’ve been dating since 1880 and now, after 139 years Bardstown, Kentucky, the “Bourbon Capital of the World®” and the Kentucky Distillers’ Association put a ring on it and made it official. Bardstown is now an Official Gateway Sponsor of the world famous Kentucky Bourbon Trail.
The Kentucky Distillers’ Association started the Kentucky Bourbon Trail in 1999. Since then tourism in the state has grown as the world’s thirst for bourbon knowledge has grown. The latest data shows Bourbon tourists made a record 1.4 million distillery stops throughout the state in 2018 – a 370% increase over the last 10 years. Those visitors are split between the larger heritage distilleries which saw over 1 million visitors while the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour saw 340,000 distillery stops, the most since its founding in 2012.
The Bardstown and Nelson County area offers eight Kentucky Bourbon Trail and Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour stops including:
- Bardstown Bourbon Company
- Four Roses Distillery (Cox’s Creek Bottling Facility)
- Heaven Hill Distillery
- Jim Beam Distillery (Clermont)
- Lux Row Distillers
- Maker’s Mark Distillery (Loretto)
- Preservation Distillery
- Willett Distillery
The city is also home to the Kentucky Bourbon Festival, now in its 28th year which takes place each September.
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“With its robust mix of iconic brand destinations and smaller craft distilleries, Bardstown is a bustling hub for thousands of Bourbon visitors looking to sample the Commonwealth’s signature spirit,” said Adam Johnson, Senior Director of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail experiences. “This makes Bardstown a perfect choice as an Official Gateway to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.”
“Bourbon is in the bedrock of Bardstown, and this community showcases the vibrant, small-town charm of Kentucky Bourbon culture that’s unique to our Commonwealth,” Johnson said. “This partnership will enhance the spirit and traditions of this historically significant Bourbon region.”
Mike Mangeot, Executive Director of the Bardstown-Nelson County Tourism Commission said, “Bourbon is ingrained in the community’s heritage. Once guests visit our historic distilleries, taste some of our legendary Bourbons and experience our true Southern hospitality they begin to understand why we say ‘Bourbon Comes from Bardstown.’ We are excited to be an Official Gateway to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Tour.”
Bardstown also features many popular restaurants and bars like the storied Old Talbott Tavern, which has provided shelter, food and drink to travelers since the 1700s. Visitors also can tour the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History, a rich and colorful archive of Kentucky’s distilling past. If you visit Bardstown, put this on the museum on your “Must See” list.
“We are honored to receive the designation for Bardstown as an Official Gateway Sponsor to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail tour,” Bardstown Mayor Richard Heaton said. “This will enhance our presence in the Kentucky Bourbon Trail attraction in collaboration with our local distilleries and the Kentucky Distillers’ Association.”
As an “Official Gateway” sponsor, Bardstown will receive prominent placement on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail website and marketing materials, including recommended itineraries, signage and more. Bardstown joins Louisville and Northern Kentucky as “Official Gateway” level sponsors.
“Bardstown showcases the both the tradition and evolution of Kentucky Bourbon,” said Kentucky Distillers’ Association President Eric Gregory. “From family owned distilleries passed down through generations to innovative new facilities, this area offers an authentic Kentucky Bourbon experience that makes it a true bucket list destination. We look forward to working with Bardstown as an Official Gateway to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® tour to elevate and preserve Kentucky’s heritage as the one true, authentic home for Bourbon.”