Shane and I wanted to plan a vacation before we getting wrapped up in the holidays, but we also wanted to keep within a tight budget. We decided to go to Louisville for 2 days to explore Bourbon country, and then go to Nashville for 2 days to round out the weekend. It was unseasonably warm for both locations, but we were able to make the most of the time and keep cool as much as possible.
We started our trip by driving down to Louisville on Wednesday, arriving at about 4pm to check into our AirBnB.
Everyone at Mark’s was exceptionally friendly and nice. Since we were first-timers, we got a free slice of Buttermilk Pie and a bottle of their BBQ sauce to take home! I can’t wait for Shane to make some smoked meat to put that sauce on because it was really good.
This was the first distillery we went to and I’m so glad it was! Doing the tasting was very informative (we did the “Taste of History” tasting) and gave me baseline knowledge that I am glad I had when I went on later distillery tours. We also did the “Build your Own Bottle of Bourbon” which was a little gimmicky, but not more expensive than just buying it off the shelf so it’s worth doing.
Shane and I love brunch, so I wanted to at least try one brunch place on vacation. Wild Eggs is a local chain brunch spot that has a good menu, good atmosphere and great food.
Jefferson’s Bourbon / Kentucky Artisan Distillery
Jefferson’s Reserve is Shane’s favorite whiskey, so we had to stop by here for their tour. It was very interesting to see what I thought was a huge brand, to be run by only 9 employees (2 of which are tour guides, and 1 secretary, so really only 6 employees involved in distilling!). Jefferson’s is only about 25 minutes outside of city center, so it’s definitely worth checking out.
Maybe I’m just new to the Bourbon world, but I had no idea that Buffalo Trace was so huge. This was about 1hr 15min outside of Louisville, and it is a huge complex. If you come to Buffalo Trace looking for bottles of Blantons, you will not find them here. Our tour guide said he has trouble finding any good bourbon near the distillery because so many people travel there looking for it. We didn’t book early enough to get into the “Hard Hat Tour”, and if we go back that is what we will want to do. You want to book this tour at least 2 weeks ahead of time.
We went to Churchill downs for their “Twilight Thursday” promotion which meant cheap seats, food trucks in the Paddock and $1 beers. It wasn’t nearly as busy as I thought it would be, but it was really fun to go and see it all. I was nervous about what to wear, but at least for this event, most people were wearing jeans and very casual clothes. Some people wore business casual, and 1 person was wearing a Kentucky Derby style hat.
We went to the “Mark” location, and it was good. They have loud music and a rockstar vibe. The barista was very nice and friendly. We needed coffee to wake us up for our day of driving and it did just that.
Maker’s Mark is a little less than an hour and a half from the city, but it is an hour and a half into the middle of nowhere. Shane and I have phones with AT&T and Verizon and both had no service within 20 minutes of the distillery. Make sure you have GPS instructions downloaded to your phone so you don’t get lost.
Even though it’s far into the country, both of us felt it was well worth the drive. Their tour is very interesting, and you end up in the gift shop where you can dip your own bottle into the signature red wax. We did just the regular tour, but you can do the dip your own bottle part with any tour since it’s inside the gift shop.
They also have a restaurant on site, which has DELICIOUS food. You will want to eat there, especially since there isn’t another restaurant for miles outside of there.
Overall, I loved Louisville and the other locations we visited in Kentucky. I plan on going back sometime in the next few years to see other sites like Mammoth Caves, Lake Cumberland, and other distillery’s that we missed on this trip.