Bardstown Kentucky

Schooled in Bourbon – From Virgin to Virtuoso

Have you ever decided on a whim that you wanted something so much you would travel crazy distances to get it?  I once chased down an ice cream truck for eight blocks when I was six years old…just to get a fudgsicle.

I still have that same crazy tenacity, only now with more adult desires. Get your minds out of the gutter people, I am talking about booze!

Bardstown Kentucky

Jason and I both have a deep appreciation and love for beer, wine, gin, coffee and our most recent addition: bourbon.  You see, once we take an interest in something, we go all the way.  We want to know what, why, when, how and we will travel to the ends of the earth (or at least all over Kentucky) in the name of this vitally important research.

First it was Craft Beer that had us driving way out of our way for tours and tastings, now it’s Bourbon that seems to be making its way into our adult craft addiction spotlight.

It all started with a bourbon margarita in Breckenridge, Colorado.  I’m not a big fan of tequila so I was just curious, and it’s that beautiful margarita that lead us to the Breckenridge Distillery where our (ok, mostly my) interest in bourbon was born.

We wanted to learn more, and taste more, which set the small town of Bardstown, Kentucky and the Kentucky Bourbon Trail in our crosshairs. Bardstown is affectionately known as the heart of bourbon country!  This is where we learned to love bourbon and most importantly where we go from being bourbon virgins to bourbon virtuoso’s!

Did you make it through the whole video without getting a virtual buzz?  I know it’s a long one but there’s a lot of distilled love in there to share.

We had more fun learning about prohibition, bourbon and Kentucky than I could have ever imagined!  We could’ve easily made an entire documentary and still not touched on everything that makes it all so incredibly interesting.

Even if you don’t drink, learning and seeing what all goes into making bourbon, and the intricate roll whiskey has played in history, is worth the trip alone!  While we liked some bourbons more than others, each distillery is worth a visit and each is unique in its own way.

Should you decide to make your way to the heart of bourbon country, in the name of research of course, here’s the scoop on the places we hit:

Start at the Market

The Bourbon Marketplace really is a great place to start and/or end your tasting adventures.  Tasting the bourbons side by side is the best way to figure out what you like most.  This helped us figure out which distilleries we wanted to visit most and helped us determine what initial qualities we liked in a bourbon.  For instance, I learned I really liked the bourbons with wheat.  Also the owners are not judgmental in the slightest, we all had a good laugh as Jason attempted to man-up and sip his whiskey, but it was all in good spirits. Howard didn’t stop searching until he found the perfect bourbon for Jason’s dainty palate.

Bourbon Tours

Barton 1792

If you like industrial, then this is the tour for you.  Barton has a nice mix of old school methods with some big innovation and they take you through it all.  Gritty is the best word I can think of to describe the vibe that we experienced here.  We ended up purchasing some of their Chocolate Bourbon Ball liquor (which is only sold there) and it goes exceptionally well with ice cream!  The tours are limited to just five people once a day, so make sure to schedule this one a few days in advance.


These guys are like our brothers from another mother.  It’s a tiny distillery compared to all of their big neighbors but it makes for the perfect contrast.  Everything about this place is an expertly crafted medley of antique charm meets New York contemporary.  You’ll want to pay close attention to details here (like the pulley system fans) and make sure someone explains the family history, and the story behind the pre-prohibition column still, it’s all wildly interesting.  If you have the budget for the limited release “small bottles” I’d recommend the 21 year, its fan-tas-tic!

Jim Beam

We ended up having way more fun here than we expected.  They have a really great interactive tour set up that allows you to participate versus just looking at everything from a distance.  It’s a bit “Disneyesque” because they take you through a mini version of their factory, but there’s no crowds and it ends with hands down the best tasting room!  Here you get to choose which two bourbons you want to taste, no matter the price point, so for crying out loud get the good stuff!

Makers Mark

We added this tour to our list last minute (after hearing people rave about it) and I am sooo glad we did.  The property is beyond beautiful and they work very hard to make you feel as though you’ve stepped back in time with the Samuels family…right down to the talking photos, the randomly ringing “party-line” phone that begs you to answer and the greeting when you walk into the living room “coffee’s in the kitchen make yourself at home.”

Funny/embarrassing story here:

Remember how we said we were total bourbon virgins going into this?  Well, we were so clueless going in, we didn’t even know that Makers Mark was owned by the Samuels family.  Kim, who works for the city of Bardstown, set up our tour for us.  Now, I don’t know what she told them (I’m pretty sure she didn’t mention us as “RV Bloggers”) but we ended up with Jacob Samuels (the grandson) as our tour guide…but we didn’t know.

We’re about 20 minutes into our tour, assuming we just had a really nice and passionate tour guide, when I finally asked, “you keep telling stories about your grandparents, did they work here for a long time?”

So, you can imagine how incredibly embarrassed and dumb I felt after that!  To all of the Makers Mark fans out there…I am sorry.  We were so shocked after that, we forgot to even take a proper photo with him!  Shameful, we know.

He was incredibly nice and we couldn’t believe he took time out of his busy schedule to share his and his family’s story with us.  It was truly an experience we’ll never forget!

Four Roses

We didn’t have time for the full tour here so we just opted for a tasting, which somehow lead us to crashing a wedding party, go figure!  Again, another beautiful property that would have been worth exploring, so if you go…send us your photos and let us know if we need to go back.

Heaven Hill

This was somewhat our least favorite tour (probably because if felt the most corporate), but still worth checking out.  The “museum” provided a general knowledge of the founding families and the history of Bourbon.  Everything here is “ala carte” meaning you want to taste a better whiskey, see the bottling line, etc. then that’s gonna cost ya.

Where to Park It

We stayed at the My Old Kentucky Home State Park and it’s not only a beautiful location, it’s a good central base camp for any bourbon based adventure.

Sips & Bites

If you’re hanging around Bardstown, make sure to grab a slice of pie at Mammy’s Kitchen, make dinner reservations at the Rickhouse Restaurant and order the house specialty pasta dish at Kreso’s, it is divine.  If you’re into trains check out the My Old Kentucky Dinner Train schedule, we did Sunday brunch and it was a blast.

Prohibition History

If you’re interested in all the history, make sure to check out the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History and the Old Bardstown Village.

As you can see, our little field trip was rather successful in taking us from bourbon virgins to bourbon virtuoso’s!  Seriously, it’s amazing how a week in Bardstown was able to enrich our lives in such a wonderful way.  Like any good student though, we are working diligently each day to refine our palette.

Have you been on any distillery tours?  Have a story or a suggestion you want to share?  Are you in Bardstown now and want to send us a bottle of that high quality whiskey?  Tell us all about it in the comments below, because we love hearing from you!

Too much of anything is bad, but too much of a good whiskey is barely enough.

-Mark Twain


Disclaimer: A big thanks to the city of Bardstown and each of the distilleries for having us.  As always our opinions are our own and cannot be purchased with money or barrel aged whiskey.

Hello there! I honestly don’t know what to say, so I am going to tell you a bunch of random facts instead. I'm a fish eating vegetarian who hates spiders and loves snakes. I almost never took vacations growing up. I wanted to be Pippi Longstocking (still do). I misspell about every other word I write and still struggle with grammar. I love splurging on a good high tea (which is really hard to find these days). And whatever you do, don’t tell me I can’t do something, because then I'll HAVE to do it!

Comments (28)

  • Phil

    Thank you for what you do; you cover very interesting topics. I must say, a person can’t help but to notice you have incredible legs, Mrs. Wynn. Are you or have you guys covered how you exercise/stay in shape during travel. That would be interesting.

  • Great post!! How was the cell service at My Old Kentucky Home SP?

  • Amy K

    In the video you were tasting a bourbon with a chocolate aroma. Can you share the brand?

  • cosmiC B

    Nikki…so tell us how roasted you got on all this bourbon….you were very clever not to slur any words during the video.

  • Robin M.

    Enjoyed the video!
    If you have a taste for Bourbon then on a hot, summer day you should try a Bourbon Slushie (or Slush).
    It’s made from Bourbon, black tea, orange juice, and lemonade.
    Google the recipe, make a batch, freeze and have one on that hot summer day. It’s like having an adult Slurpee!

  • Jason

    If you are ever in Estes Park check out the Whiskey Bar in the Stanley Hotel. They have over 900 whiskeys. They’ll construct flights for you to try different ones and give you instruction on how to taste. The most interesting tip was to smell the whiskey with your mouth open. You draw through your mouth and, incredibly, you can smell the fine aromas. The theory is the air going through your mouth takes out some of the alcohol burn on your nose.

  • Sheila Hagaone

    I was surprised there wasn’t a cop on every corner to catch the visitors drinking & driving! How did you ever drive after drinking all that bourbon??? If it was me, I could barely make it back to the car (if I could find it m, that is). My husband LOVES Wild Turkey 101 proof! Did you try that one?

  • Dennis

    Thanks guys for a great video. As a beer and margarita drinker, I
    ll now have to expand my horizons – with much pleasure, I’m sure. Love what you’re doing.

  • DC

    This was definitely a fun video to watch. We really enjoyed the impromptu comments and expressions during your bourbon tasting at the start of the video. From previous videos we had gotten the distinct impression Nikki was a big bourbon lover! T/Mark is a wise choice in any case.

  • Andrea

    we lived in Kentucky for a year and a half and visited Makers Mark. While I am not a bourbon fan, I loved the buildings and the surroundings. We are moving to London in a few months and high on my husbands list is seeking out all things whiskey/bourbon/scotch when we vacation in Scotland in August. I think I’ll be the designated driver that day!

  • Arnie Hobbs

    I loved this video! Very well done and now the Whisky Tour is on my list of things to do. I first came to enjoy whisky via Single Malt Scotch and still have a particular fondness for them. Then while spending 8 weeks in Ireland I explored the various Irish Single Pot still Whiskeys. (Note: The “E” in whiskey is only supposed to be used for Irish Whiskeys.) Now I’m on to bourbon and agree with Suzanne above that “Woodford Reserve” is my favorite.

    I have been following you two for about two years now as I bought my first RV last year. Your site, adventure and post are a true joy and I have learned so much. Even with all my whisky experience, I still learned a good deal from your video. Well Done!!

  • john brunson

    awesome video

  • Ian Brown

    Next time you swing through TN, make sure to buzz Lynchburg and hit the Jack Daniel’s distillery. Also, Crockett State Park here in Lawrenceburg is a nice place to shore up for a day or two and hit a few Amish Markets! I’ve only lived in Lawrenceburg for a few years and when I move, I know I’ll be having friends shipping me Amish strawberry jam wherever I land, for the rest of my days! I’ve never had the like, in my life!

  • Wendy & Mike

    Another great and insightful article but I have to say that the video quality on this one was ridiculously awesome. I can’t imagine how much time it took to shoot and edit this video. This is one of the best travel videos we have ever seen and can’t believe one of the travel tv shows has not scoop you guys up. We love following you guys.

  • Nancy

    We did this tour last September. We camped for a week a Taylorsville Lake State Park. It’s a great campground we drove through My Old Kentucky Home State Park and even though it was closer to some of the tours so glad we stayed where we stayed. We did the bourbon trail tour and got our free T-Shirt. Took us 4 days to do the tour. We also became members of Makers Mark and can’t wait to go back and get our own bourbon that has our name on it. I highly recommend this tour we had a great time. They all have great places try and see as many as you can. We wish we had more time to see more. Hopefully we will be going back again to see what we missed…….Nancy

  • Dan Southcomb

    Try Blantons single barrel, it’s very smooth

  • Scott

    The more I explore into your adventures, the more I like you both. Being a bourbon lover myself, I really enjoyed watching and reading this story. My wife and I stopped at the Jim Beam distillery last year on our way to Texas. My personal favorite is Knobb Creek (Smoked Maple). If you haven’t indulged yet, I promise it may be one both you and Jason can enjoy together. Now that you’re no longer a virgin “whisky” drinker, let us know of other good bourbon libations you come across on your travels.

  • Jennifer Selbrede

    Next time you’re in the Louisville area, stop and have dinner at Charr’d. It is in the Louisville Marriott East and is a fantastic bourbon-themed restaurant. Chef is amazing! Food is amazing! Decor is amazing! Have I told you that it’s amazing?

  • Frank

    So which was your favorite? If buying a bottle to take with you on your next adventure which will it be? For me, my new favorite is Four Roses – Small Batch.

  • As a long-time lover of bourbon, (Woodford Reserve) I really enjoyed this post. Thanks for the “field research.” 😉

  • Tim Shaffer

    As a Nelson County (Cox’s Creek) native, I thoroughly enjoyed your video of your visit to my home town; very well done!

  • Todd Keller

    Excellent job! This was an incredible video that clearly shows a very well produced, professional video. I agree with Charles’ comments above. It rivaled a network production. And even though I have been a bourbon drinker for years this was extremely informative and fun to watch. Now I have added Bardstown to my bucket list. Thanks for this beautiful piece of work. Kudos!

  • Great shots in this post. Nice work.

  • This was one of the best productions I’ve seen in awhile. I’ve seen “professional” mini-documentaries with nowhere near the quality and professionalism exhibited in your work. That being said, too bad my favorite two indulgences (Bacardi Rum and Russian Standard Vodka) are made off-shore. I’d really like to see you both give that a “shot”. (Couldn’t help myself)


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