Besides being the home to the premiere horse racing event, baseball bats, Mohammad Ali and Jennifer Lawrence, Kentucky is the bourbon capital of the world. Eighty percent of the world’s golden booze is produced in the state.
Thus, you need to do something bourbon-oriented in the state even if you are passing through like I did. The Kentucky Bourbon Trail is the most likely activity, where you go town to town looking for distilleries like Maker’s Mark, Jim Beam and Knob Creek. It’s pretty spectacular the quality of fine spirits within the state.
In downtown Louisville, the big names have restaurants and tasting rooms where you can eat bourbon-infused dishes and sample their wares without venturing through the state. I did the Evan Williams Experience, which is basically a theme-park ride, history tour and sampling of the good stuff.
While you’re not strapped down to a cable car, you are led from theme room to theme room by a guide where you are shown the process and, my favorite in a “so bad, it’s good way”, video walls of actors in period costume.
There was a comedian who did a bit about one man shows where the actor plays a famous historical figure like Mark Twain, Lincoln or George Washing Carver. It always starts with an actor sitting down turning to the audience, acts startled and says, “Oh, hello. I didn’t see you there.”
As with the actor in the video wall, not a joke, starts with, “Oh, hello. I didn’t see you there. My name is Evan Williams. And I’m looking to make the finest bourbon in the land.” I was very amused by this.
While they technically don’t make whisky in the building for the masses, they make it for show and to serve in the tasting room. After going through the usually tour steps, you end up in a recreation of Louisville through the last century and finally, a bar circa Mad Men 1960s. Another design aesthetic I loved.
You get three tastes from the Evan Williams line. Obviously, when you’re done, you exit through the gift shop. Most of the stuff you can get online or in stores, but I opted for the bourbon barrel coffee beans.
As for advice, I was able to get the next available tour when I arrived, but you can book advance just to make sure.