A tasteful tour

Kentucky tourism groups unite
to form coalition on bourbon

New campaign showcases
state’s bourbon distilleries

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (December 2009) – When one thinks of Christmas in Kentucky, one might think of bourbon balls. The main ingredient is the focus of a new campaign to let the world know the potential for Kentucky’s bourbon industry.

Maker's Mark Distillery

File Photo by Helen McKinney

Workers bottle bourbon at Makers
Mark Distillery in Lebanon, Ky. The
distillery offers tours and a gift shop.

“Kentucky is the birthplace of bourbon,” said Eric Gregory, president of the Kentucky Distiller’s Association. “It’s part of our culture, heritage and economy,” he said.
For that reason, a coalition of 11 tourism groups recently launched a new campaign to showcase the bourbon industry and the communities that often celebrate its spirit. Collectively, they took the name Team Bourbon.
“We thought it was a great idea to get everyone together under an umbrella group and work together,” Gregory said.
All 11 of these communities celebrate bourbon in their own way. Team Bourbon members include the Anderson County Tourism Commission, the Lebanon Tourist and Convention Commission, Kentucky Department of Travel, the Woodford County Tourist Commission and the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Chris Kellogg, Director of Communications for the Kentucky Department of Travel, said, “Bourbon is an iconic and unique draw for Kentucky visitors. Distillery tours and attractions have seen a steady increase in visitors from all age groups who are interested in the story of bourbon.”
Kellogg said the Kentucky Department of Travel became involved in this campaign “because bourbon and distilleries are so key to the communities where the distilleries are located. Team Bourbon expands the experience beyond the distilleries to the communities that grew them.”

Eric Gregory

Photo provided

Eric Gregory
is President
of the
Distillers’ Association.

The Kentucky Bourbon Trail, created in 1999, can lead visitors from distillery to distillery to further enjoy the bourbon experience. The eight Kentucky distilleries include Buffalo Trace, Four Roses, Heaven Hill, Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, Tom Moore Distilleries, Wild Turkey and Woodford Reserve.
The trail stretches for 200 miles. The Kentucky Bourbon Trail website states that bourbon tourism is growing, “with millions of visitors from all 50 states and more than 25 countries making the pilgrimage to Kentucky.”
Along the route there are many other things to see and do. “The chain of distilleries is a fascinating part of Kentucky’s scenic beauty and history,” said Kellogg. “Bourbon is a calling card to the world for a variety of reasons.”
Kellogg said there is an interest in these destinations whether or not someone is a bourbon consumer “because distilleries are a fascinating place to visit, shop, experience, learn about and see.”
“Bourbon is a key export for the United States,” said Gregory. “It is a great example of Kentucky craftsmanship.”
There are many events that incorporate bourbon into their makeup. Team Bourbon representatives were the first ceremonial runners to begin the Bourbon Chase held at Jim Beam Distillery on Friday, Oct. 9. More than 2,000 runners covered ground over the trail. “We were blown away with this year’s success,” Gregory said.
And the success has become international as well. Gregory recently met with a delegation from Taiwan that was familiar with Kentucky Fried Chicken and wanted to know more about Kentucky bourbon as a result.
Ninety-five percent of the world’s bourbon is made in Kentucky, which totals 60 different brands. Kentucky has the natural resources, limestone and water, to continue creating a marketable product that has been made in Kentucky for centuries.
Many distilleries are offering gourmet food, special tours, homemade egg nog, and gift shops stocked with ideas for holiday gift shopping throughout the Christmas season.

Following are some special events:
n Maker’s Mark in Loretto, Ky., near Bardstown, will be offering two annual candlelight tours from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 5 and Dec. 12. For more information, call (270) 865-2099 or for a shuttle tour from Louisville, visit: www.MintJulipTours.com.

n Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort lights up the distillery and kicks off the holiday season at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 3. For more information, visit: www.BuffaloTrace.com.

n Woodford Reserve Distillery Visitor Center will host an annual Holiday Open House near Versailles from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Dec. 12. Homemade baked goods and candy cane infused Bourbon will be available for sampling. For more information, call (859) 879-1872 or visit: www.WoodfordReserve.com.

n Heaven Hill Distilleries Bourbon Heritage Center has the largest indoor Christmas tree and indoor decorations in Nelson County. An Open House will be held on Dec. 7-8 and Dec. 14-15. For more information, visit: www.KyBourbonSpirit.com.

• More information can be found at www.KyBourbonSpirit.com or www.KyBourbonTrail.com.

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