The Bourbon District - Louisville Kentucky

Rumor has it when Louisville’s Mayor Greg Fischer says the word, “Bourbonism” you are supposed to take a shot. If this folklore is true, there were several shots of bourbon consumed this week as the city of Louisville, Kentucky announced their latest initiative to support the state’s $8.5 billion economic distilled spirits engine with the new “Bourbon District.”

The first phase of the Bourbon District – an initiative that pays homage to downtown Louisville’s rich bourbon history and recognizes the city’s current bourbon industry boom was unveiled this week. The district expands a one street area on Main Street known as “Whiskey Row” to encompass a larger area of the downtown. Kind of like New York City has Broadway they also have a larger are known as the Theatre District. The Bourbon District will be concentrated along Main Street from Jackson Street to 10th Street, and along Fourth Street from Main Street to Broadway.

The Bourbon District is a collaborative effort led by the Louisville Downtown Partnership, Louisville Metro Government and the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau, in cooperation with Downtown’s Bourbon industry community. The area will include historical markers, destination signage, banners and an event pop-up scape to highlight downtown’s rich bourbon history.

The Bourbon District - Historic Site, Bridgeford, Ricketts & Company
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See all the new Bourbon District historic signs below.

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At one time, Main Street was a hub of activity for the bourbon industry due to its proximity to the river. “Main Street is truly the home of Louisville’s bourbon industry, both historically and in its current resurgence,” said Rebecca Matheny, Executive Director of the Louisville Downtown Partnership.

“Today, ‘Bourbonism®’ is thriving in Downtown Louisville, with four distillery experiences already open and three more planned within the next few years,” said Mayor Greg Fischer, who unveiled the first historical marker on Main Street. The Bourbon District will use the public right of way to create an engaging and educational aesthetic for pedestrians while supporting the ongoing development of the bourbon industry in Downtown Louisville.

The Bourbon District - Kentucky Distillers' Association Members
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Kentucky Distillers’ Association President Eric Gregory

“While Louisville’s bourbon story goes back to the late 1700’s, it’s only been in the last decade that bourbon tourism has become a defining point of our city’s authenticity. We are thrilled to be part of sharing this cultural heritage with locals and visitors and think it will enhance their appreciation of Louisville’s unique destination experience,” said Karen Williams, President and CEO of the Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Solid Light, a local Louisville company nationally recognized for designing and building extraordinary visitor experiences like the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience and the newly opened Sagamore Spirit Distillery in Baltimore, MD, created the experience around Bourbon District to be a walkable experience.

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“When visitors come to the Bourbon District, they will have an authentic experience learning about Louisville’s bourbon heritage and experiencing its resurgence,” said Solid Light Owner/President Cynthia Torp. “Working with the Louisville Downtown Partnership to create the Bourbon District was especially meaningful for us because our roots are here, so we are dedicated to keeping the history of our community alive. With every piece of history we uncovered and historical marker we designed, our passion for the project and for sharing Louisville’s bourbon story grew.”

The Four Phases of The Bourbon District

Phase I, unveiled today, is concentrated on Main Street between Fourth and Sixth streets and will highlight the four active bourbon attractions.  Plans for Phase II, which will be located on the southwest corner of Fourth and Main streets, include a grand sculptural element as part of a Story Hub, an informational and interactive center of the Bourbon District.  Phase III will include at least eight more Historic Site signs and Destination Signs for the upcoming bourbon experiences.

Phase IV will include further activations to make the corners of Fourth and Main Streets distinctive pedestrian areas.  “Bourbon is such a significant part of Downtown Louisville’s history, and the Bourbon District will help us tell that story to locals and visitors from all across the globe,” Matheny added.

The Bourbon District - Evan Williams Bourbon Experience
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The Bourbon District – The Evan Williams Bourbon Experience

Bourbon District Map and Historic Signs

Click any image below to enlarge.

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