KY Distillery Tours – Rating System & Ranking

In the most unstructured of ways, this is a fun way for my husband and I to document and rate our visits to the various bourbon distilleries we’ve begun visiting around Kentucky. We moved here in the middle of the pandemic and didn’t get out much. Now that it’s a bit safer to do so, we’re making more of an effort to venture out and explore our new surroundings.

Who we are

We’re Glenn and Holly Miller Anderson. Met and got married in California. We’re recent transplants to the Louisville area. Glenn is a chef by trade and I’m a marketer. We like to explore and we like to taste (Glenn looking over my shoulder says, “we sound like a fun couple!”).

Why our opinion matters

It probably doesn’t, but hopefully it’s better than a lot of other noise on the internet. It’s my blog and while you’re here you’re gonna get my perspective 🙂

Rating System – 1 out of 5 Ice Cubes

To keep things simple, each distillery gets our score of 1 to 5 ice cubes. 5 being the highest rating. Let’s be honest, this is a loosely structured system. It’s just a fun way to assign a “star rating” of sorts to the distilleries we’ve been visiting and offer our perspective on each as locals. It’s based on our impression of an overall great user experience including key decision-making factors like:

  • an engaging and knowledgeable tour guide
  • food options on site
  • gift shop experience has a variety of cute & quality merchandise
  • overall tour and tasting experience
  • ambiance of the grounds
  • the tour offers a fun/unique aspect like being able to personalize your own bottle of their product

Why ice cubes?

It’s fun and kinda pairs with bourbon. Personally, I like my bourbon with a bit of water mixed in because it opens it up. I realize to the bourbon aficionado that’s essentially watering down an otherwise beautiful, pure product but, you know what? That’s how I like my bourbon.

And, any time we open the freezer our golden retriever, Rizzo, comes running for his own, coveted ice cube treat.

The Distilleries – Ranked

Again, this is in no way a formal process. This is based off of the distilleries we’ve been able to visit thus far. If you’re not on this list, do not despair, I’m sure we will visit your establishment soon.

DistilleryIce Cube Rating 1-5Rating Notes
Jim Beam5Great tour & overall experience. Part of the tour includes personalizing your own bottle pressing your fingerprint onto the top of the wax seal.
Buffalo Trace5This is a fantastic tour, grounds, gift shop. All of their merchandise and product is very reasonably priced (and it’s dog friendly)
Bulleit Frontier Whiskey4The only reason it doesn’t get 5 ice cubes is b/c it’s missing an on-site food option.
KY Artisan Distillery4It’s smaller but still a fantastic experience. They don’t have other amenities like the larger operations like food etc.
Jeptha Creed3Currently sitting at 3 ice cubes b/c we didn’t do their tour. But the property is great to stop in and visit for a cocktail, get a pizza at the cafe and sit out on their porch in the rocking chairs.
Heaven Hill2The tour option wasn’t available at the time of our visit. No food options available on site. Gift shop is great but they were out of tasting glasses we were looking to purchase.
Wild Turkey 2this is an unfair rating and will be amended when we get the chance to revisit and actually take the tour.

Distilleries by region

Kentucky bourbon trail map:

What is considered the Bourbon Trail?

There are certain distilleries that have chosen to become part of what’s considered the bourbon trail. But not every distillery in Kentucky is part of this group. For instance, Buffalo Trace, is not part of the trail because it has enough notoriety and attracts many visitors on its own. The bourbon trail is less of an actual trail and more of an experience created by the KY Distillers Association that maps out the locations of various distilleries in the state for visitors to tour.

Visitors can tour each location individually based on their interests or visit distilleries that are part of the Bourbon Trail tour or the Craft Tour.

What distilleries make up the Bourbon Trail?

  • Angel’s Envy Distillery
  • Bardstown Bourbon Co.
  • Bulleit Distilling Co.
  • Evan Williams Distilling experience
  • Four Roses Distillery
  • Green River Distilling Co.
  • Heaven Hill Distillery
  • James (Jim) Beam Distillery
  • Lux Row Distillery
  • Makers Mark Distillery
  • Michters Distillery
  • Old Forester Distilling Co.
  • Rabbit Hole Distillery
  • Stitzel-Weller Distillery
  • Town Branch Distillery
  • Wild Turkey Distillery
  • Wilderness Trail Distillery
  • Woodford Reserve

Is the Bourbon Trail worth it?

I think it is. You don’t have to stick to the list of distilleries that are part of the trail. In fact, it’s worth doing a bit of research to figure out which distilleries you actually want to visit and book a tour/tasting ahead of time. Day-of availability for a tour is hit and miss. Some locations are better than others to visit if you’re a walk-in and only have time for a tasting. Each distillery is unique and usually has a gift shop with bottles or branded items for purchase.

Generally speaking, the tasting portion is small enough to help you figure out which product(s) you like. It is bourbon so it’s strong (what you’ll come to learn is called the “Kentucky hug”) but the quantity itself is not really enough to get you tipsy.

If you’re a local it’s much easier to visit any of the distilleries whenever it suits your schedule. We’ve found tours are often booked out weeks in advance. It’s also important to factor in two things when planning your visits:

1. The driving time in between the distilleries you’re visiting and…

2. The location.

There are two different time zones in the state so travel time and location can impact your plans for when you need to be at the distillery in order to be on time for your tour.

There are two time zones in Kentucky: Central and Eastern.

What do you wear to a bourbon trail tour?

Most distilleries ask that you wear close-toed shoes for your safety. I recommend a good pair of riding boots or ankle high boots if it’s during the summer. Tennis shoes are also a great option because you’ll be doing a lot of walking. I often pair that with a flowing dress or skirt. Bring a hat and sunglasses. Pack along a light rain jacket and travel umbrella if it looks like rain.

KY Bourbon Distilleries by…

Operation size:

The following distilleries are loosely grouped by their operation size.


  • KY Artisan Distillery
  • Jeptha Creed


  • Wild Turkey
  • Bulleit


  • Jim Beam
  • Buffalo Trace
  • Heaven Hill

Dog friendly:

  • Buffalo Trace

Good for walk-in visits

Of the distilleries we’ve visited, these are the best ones that offer a nice on-site experience if you happen to be passing through and don’t have a tour booked. On-site amenities include things like a nice ambiance, restaurant, bar, gift shop etc. that’s open to the public.

  • Heaven Hill
  • Bulleit
  • Jim Beam
  • Buffalo Trace
  • Wild Turkey
  • Jeptha Creed