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Ⓒ Gallantry 2022

THE GALLANTRY MAN’S GUIDE TO THE KENTUCKY BOURBON TRAIL®

THE GALLANTRY MAN’S GUIDE TO THE KENTUCKY BOURBON TRAIL®

David Spielman
17 minute read

Kentucky Bourbon Trail 20220124 Justified“This weekend, let’s celebrate ordering new everyday carry flasks from Gallantry by getting us some bourbon on the trail. Can you dig it?”
- Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant), most likely, Justified

Gallantry men love us some bourbon, don’t we? It’s why any true Gallantry Man bourbon-lover worth his salt must (that is, if he hasn’t already) pay his respects to the most American of spirits (you might even call bourbon the “juice of life”) by making at least one pilgrimage to the beautiful (and often overlooked) state of Kentucky, the birthplace of whiskey, and, of course, The Kentucky Bourbon Trail®.

Kentucky Bourbon Trail 20220124 Justified“You trying to #flaskup or what? C’mon, man. This is Kentucky.”

Just one short and sweet visit to the scenic Kentucky Bourbon Trail® and we guarantee you that you’ll gain a newfound appreciation for the hard work, craftsmanship, and history behind the legendary bourbon distilleries that produce America’s spirit day in and day out.

So break out your Stetson hat Raylan Givens of Justified-style, fix yourself a wicked old-fashioned, and get ready to #flaskup, ‘cause we’re going on a Kentucky Bourbon Trail® adventure…

LET’S GIT!

Kentucky Bourbon Trail 20220124 Justified“Alright, Raylan. You want to celebrate new beginnings? Tell me about this here Bourbon Trail. I know that I already know, but for s-word and giggles.”

WHAT IS THE KENTUCKY BOURBON TRAIL®?

Though the Kentucky Distillers Association has been around since 1880, it wasn’t until 1999 that its seven original members (which, at the time, included Buffalo Trace) decided to set up The Kentucky Bourbon Trail® as a tourist destination for bourbon lovers everywhere.

Flash forward to 2022. The main trail now features nearly 17 distilleries (if you can believe it, there are nearly 40 in the state), all located within 110 miles of Louisville, primarily between Louisville and Lexington. Meanwhile, the trail has only continued to see its star rise, with millions of visitors just chomping on the bit to get a sweet whiff of them cookin’ bourbon grains each year.

It’s hardly a surprise that The Kentucky Bourbon Trail® has become a smashing success. Touring the distilleries, tasting lots (and lots) of whiskey, and learning about the origins of Kentucky and crafting bourbon, well, it all adds up to what amounts to just about the most Gallantry Man experience as you’re likely to find.

Each distillery tour on the trail lasts about an hour, during which course you’re likely to learn about the distillery’s property (including its rickhouse, i.e. where stacks of barrels are stored), its distillation process (including the fascinating aging process), and the distillery’s rich history.

Jonesin’ for a trip to Kentucky yet?

Kentucky Bourbon Trail 20220124 Justified“How many times do I have to tell ya? All bourbons are whiskey, but not all whiskeys are bourbon. Write it down if you have to. Can’t be showing up on the trail not knowing the basics, you know what I mean?”

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BOURBON AND WHISKEY?

Though it is believed that the distilling of bourbon began in the Bourbon County of Kentucky way back in the 1700’s, there is actually no definitive history behind how generic “whiskey”, a distilled spirit made from fermented grains before being aged in wooden barrels, became “bourbon”, the most popular variety of whiskey in America.

Chances are this is because whiskey isn’t bourbon.

Bourbon is actually a relatively young type of grain whiskey, one that is aged anywhere from a few months to a few years. Since bourbon isn’t aged for nearly as long as, say, scotch, the final product is one that really maintains its original grain flavor.

When the barrel aging process for bourbon begins in new, charred American white oak barrels (additive-free barrels that help give bourbon its rich color and flavor), the bourbon has to be stored at 125 proof or less. From there, bourbon is distilled at no more than 160 proof from a mix of grains made from at least 51% corn. This mix is what’s known as the “mash”.

Kentucky Bourbon Trail 20220124 Justified“Like I said, you can find out how long your favorite bourbon has been aged in a barrel by looking at its ‘age statement’ right on the bottle.”

When bourbon is at last bottled (with nothing added to it other than water), it must be at least 80 proof…or it ain’t bourbon.

Kentucky Bourbon Trail 20220124 Justified“I told ya. What distinguishes one type of bourbon from another is how long it ages in them charred American white oak barrels as well as its grain statement.”

There is another legal component involved for a whiskey to be classified as bourbon (got to maintain those industry standards, after all). While many assume that bourbon has to be made in Kentucky (it’s a natural assumption, as 95% of the world’s supply comes from the state), it can actually be distilled and aged anywhere in the United States (the key part here being United States).

AMERICA!

Kentucky Bourbon Trail 20220124 Justified“You know what this is? This is my 2022 Bourbon Trail Passport & Field Guide. So step aside, bud. I’m getting my bourbon tasting on whether you like it or not.”

THE BOURBON TRAIL™ PASSPORT & FIELD GUIDE

You’re not ready to make your Kentucky Bourbon Trail® trip official without one of these bad boys. In fact, just like your favorite EDC, you’ll want have this interactive passport and go-to planning resource on you at all times as your taste your way through the Kentucky Bourbon Trail®. It’s your second best friend (behind your EDC flask, of course) when it comes to exploring the people and places behind the bourbon.

Once you’ve purchased your 2022 Bourbon Trail Passport & Field Guide (the new and improved version is a 150+ page book that includes trip planning resources, cocktail recipes, tasting notes, tips, tricks, and more) for $9.99 HERE, go ahead and register it HERE. Then, once you’ve booked all your tours in advance (you know, to ensure availability), you can operate at your own pace.

You can operate extremely well-prepared, Gallantry Man-style (you might even call it “The Kentucky Way”).

Kentucky Bourbon Trail 20220124 Justified“That’s my Bourbon Trail Passport & Field Guide, hoss. Now slowly place that baby down on the ground or I’ll blow your head clean off.”

As for why you should go ahead and get your passport now even if you don’t know when you’ll be embarking on your Bourbon adventure? For starters, your passport won’t ever expire, like, say, a real travel passport. Another bonus? When you flash your Field Guide at any KBT® distillery, you’ll able to purchase special bottles, swag, and even get access to special tastings, tours, and other awesome experiences along the way.

Kentucky Bourbon Trail 20220124 Justified“Please tell me you didn’t forget the map.”

LET’S SEE THAT TREASURE MAP, SHALL WE?

The distilleries featured along The Kentucky Bourbon Trail are grouped together by its main areas, including Louisville, Lexington, Danville, Bardstown, and Owensboro. We recommend that you check out the most up-to date map HERE when you decide to finally plan your trip.

In the meantime, take a look at these maps…

Kentucky Bourbon Trail 20220124 Kentucky Bourbon Trail Photo Credit: Kentucky Distillers' Association

As you can see from the map above, there is no trace of the Buffalo Trace distillery. It simply isn’t featured. This is not an accident. As of 2009, Buffalo Trace stopped paying its Kentucky Distillers Association dues, so what happened is that the distillery got pulled from the official KBT® map. Nevertheless, we reckon that the Buffalo Trace is still most definitely (albeit unofficially) a part of the trail, a true must-visit spot.

Here’s a different trail map that features Buffalo Trace…

Kentucky Bourbon Trail 20220124 Kentucky Bourbon Trail MapPhoto Credit: https://kybbqandbourbon.wordpress.com/

See how that works?! YEAH BUDDY!

Kentucky Bourbon Trail 20220124 Justified“Don’t worry about a thing, honey. I’m a Gallantry Man and I’m prepared. Always. That means I’ll come back from my bourbon retreat in one piece. I promise.”

TOP FIVE DISTILLERIES FOR THE GALLANTRY MAN

Once you’ve got your passport, you’ll be on your way to loading that baby up with stamps from your favorite distilleries as you take tours, go on tastings, the works. While every distillery on the trail is for sure worth visiting, we realize that time is money. As such, we’ve gone ahead and whittled the list of distilleries down to our top five. Three (Maker’s Mark, Jim Beam, and Heaven Hill) of them are located just south of Louisville, while the other two (Woodford Reserve, Buffalo Trace) are located near Lexington. In other words, these five destinations are all you need for the perfect bourbon-filled weekend getaway.

Break out your most comfortable walking shoes, brother. It’s time to start drinking…

Kentucky Bourbon Trail 20220124 Justified“Listen to me. We’re going to Maker’s Mark, alright? At over a thousand acres, that National Historic Landmark is absolutely stunning. In terms of sheer distillery appearance, heck, I’d say its neck-and-neck with Woodford Reserve.”

1. MAKER’S MARK

Everyday is 1953 at Star Hill Farm, the lynchpin of this beautiful Loretto distillery. The old letterpress is still used, every barrel is still hand rotated, and every bottle is still hand dipped. You can learn more about the tours (you have just got to see those barrels aging underneath the Chihuly blown-glass installment), fine dining (Star Hill Provisions®, anyone?), educational programs, and whisky workshops (where you’ll have the option of hand-dipping your very own bottle in that iconic red wax) offered at this classic distillery right HERE.

Kentucky Bourbon Trail 20220124 Justified“Do I look like I care if Buffalo Trace isn’t ‘officially’ a part of the trail? Brother, these boys make Pappy. We’re going.”

2. BUFFALO TRACE

Buffalo Trace Distillery has been making fine bourbon whiskey in Frankfort for over two hundred years, so it’s safe to say these good folks what they’re doing when it comes to making spirits. The distillery offers complimentary tastings (where you’ll be able sample Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Eagle Rare Bourbon, Wheatley Vodka, Buffalo Trace Cream, Freddie’s Root Beer or Rebecca Ruth bourbon balls) and tours, including the Trace Tour (an introduction to the history and science of BT bourbon), the Expansion Tour (a limited-run tour that explores the backside of the Distillery, where more room is currently being made to ferment, distill, and bottle BT’s award-winning whiskies), the Old Taylor Tour (a largely architectural tour where you’ll learn bourbon history alongside E.H. Taylor Jr., the man who revolutionized the industry), the Bourbon Barrel Tour (where you can learn about the specifications and history of BT barrels, the different ways they age, what happens to them when they can no longer be used for bourbon, and see where all barrels are dumped), and, finally, the Arboretum & Botanical Gardens Tour (where you can explore the landscape around Albert B. Blanton’s historic 1934 residence).

That’s a lot of action, but if anyone can handle it, it’s you. Register for your upcoming visit right HERE .

Kentucky Bourbon Trail 20220124 Justified“This isn’t a negotiation, partner. We’re going to Woodford Reserve. It’s extra busy, though, so you bests get our names on the list pronto.”

3. WOODFORD RESERVE

With Versailles (yes, that’s really where Woodford Reserve is located) scenery this incredible, you may even forget about the bourbon (just kidding, obviously, but sort of not). From enjoying a handmade cocktail while taking in some fresh air on the patio, to hitting up The Stave Restaurant in Milville, to a number of unique tours (Path to Flavor, Spectacle for The Senses, and, for the most serious of bourbon lovers, the Innovation Inspired Tour and Tasting, Distillery Series Portfolio Tour and Tasting, and VIP Master Distiller Tour Experience), there is much, much, to do at Kentucky’s “oldest” (it takes the official title since it has been located in the exact same place since 1812) historic distillery.

Get your Versailles on HERE.

Kentucky Bourbon Trail 20220124 Justified“Will you relax? Of course we’re hitting up Jim Beam.”

4. JIM BEAM

The James B. Beam Distilling Co. in Clermont, Kentucky is home to some of the best rackhouse tours and Kentucky-inspired dining (and drinking) in Kentucky. Considering that eight generations of the Beam family have been making fire batches of whiskey since 1795, this birthplace of bourbon definitely knows what time it is. Check out one of the historic Jim Beam warehouses, reserve your spot in the Behind the Barrel tour line, learn about the Beam family, and get ready to enjoy a bourbon mixology experience for the record books right HERE.

Kentucky Bourbon Trail 20220124 Justified“I keep telling him we’re going to Heaven Hill, too, so tell him he can knock it off with the whole repeatedly asking thing that he’s been doin’. It’s annoying.”

5. HEAVEN HILL

The historic Bardstown, home to Heaven Hill (the nation’s largest family-owned spirits producer, the one behind such brands such as Elijah Craig, Larceny, Henry McKenna and many others) since 1935, is not only considered the Bourbon Capital of the World®, it is considered the Official Gateway to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail™. With an operation base that produces more than four hundred thousand barrels of the good stuff annually, Heaven Hill offers tours (including the all-new Heaven Hill Bourbon Experience™), plenty of tasting rooms, an interactive exhibit gallery, the opportunity to bottle your own bourbon (“You Do Bourbon”), a newly-expanded gift shop, and even the choice to enjoy a delicious cocktail at the Five Brothers Bar.

You can sign up for your own piece of Heaven Hill history right now, right HERE, so what are you waiting for?

Get some of this heavenly bourbon today!

Kentucky Bourbon Trail 20220124 Justified“Do I look like the kind of flasked up Gallantry fella that you want to interrupt in the middle of a Kentucky Bourbon Trail® adventure? Yeah. I didn’t think so.”

#FLASKUP

Whether you’re ready to embark on your own Kentucky Bourbon Trail® adventure this weekend or you just want to want to #flaskup as a way to start getting into that Bourbon Trail mindset, now is the perfect time to load up on the freshest, classiest, and most America-est everyday carry flasks on either side of the Mississippi.

LET’S GO!

Kentucky Bourbon Trail 20220124 Justified“Look here. We can either do this the easy way or the hard way. Now where’s my Gray Titanium Funnel Flask from Vargo? The one I ordered from Gallantry? ‘Cause though my tracking number tells me it got delivered to my front doorstep this morning, my security camera tells me that you snatched it.”

THE GRAY TITANIUM FUNNEL FLASK FROM VARGO

Vargo Titanium Funnel Flask

There’s nothing like a good, stiff drink, you know what we mean? Hey, who the heck are we kidding? Of course you do. With this superb liquor vessel on your person, you’ll never have to go on without one, either. Phew!

Crafted from solid titanium, this flask is food-safe but still tough enough to weather any Bourbon Trail adventure. Furthermore, its integrated silicon funnel design promises easy filling while ensuring that you don't have any extra pieces to carry around (and potentially lose).

This baby can store up to 8 ounces of your favorite beverage, so we’d be remiss if we didn’t bring up the fact that it makes a great groomsman gift (especially since it can be engraved by most jewelers and/or engravers).

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Titanium body and lid construction
  • Integrated silicon funnel
  • Food-safe and biocompatible
  • Patented design
  • Safe for after-market engraving
  • 8 oz. capacity
  • 3.7 oz. weight
  • 5.9" H x 3.7" W
  • Model: VR447

Titanium Funnel Flask

Titanium Funnel Flask

$74.95

[tab-section data-sc-active-background="#ffffff" data-sc-other-background="#ffffff" data-sc-color="#555555"][tab title="Details"] Never underestimate the enjoyability of a good stiff drink. And never go without one either, so long as you have this superb liquor vessel on your person. Crafted from solid titanium, it's food-safe but still… read more

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Kentucky Bourbon Trail 20220124 Justified“I’ve about had it with y’all Gallantry EDC-snatchin’ neighbors. You got three seconds to tell me where my Black and Hammerstone Green Master Unbreakable Hip Flasks from Stanley are or I’m gonna light you up something fierce, brother.”

THE MASTER UNBREAKABLE HIP FLASK FROM STANLEY

THE MASTER UNBREAKABLE HIP FLASK FROM STANLEY BLACK

THE MASTER UNBREAKABLE HIP FLASK FROM STANLEY HAMMERTONE GREEN

Finding a good hip flask is a relatively easy task, but finding one that can stand up to the punishment of outdoor adventure? Well, that’s a different story entirely.

Enter the 8-ounce Stanley Master Unbreakable Hip Flask. This beautiful, BPA-free, leakproof vessel not only features internal threading that allows for easier swig-ability, but it is also built from black powder-coated cold-rolled steel that's both dishwasher safe and tough enough for life on the trails.

Still not sold? Stanley is so confident in the quality and performance of this flask that they've offered up a lifetime warranty on it.

Yeah. It’s like that.

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Foundry black powdercoat-finished cold-rolled stainless steel construction
  • 8 oz. capacity
  • Machined steel cap
  • Wide mouth opening
  • Internal threading on cap
  • Leakproof
  • Dishwasher safe
  • BPA-free
  • Lifetime guarantee
  • 0.6 lbs. weight
  • 5.04" H 3.62" W x 1.38" D

Master Unbreakable Hip Flask

Master Unbreakable Hip Flask

$40.00

[tab-section data-sc-active-background="#ffffff" data-sc-other-background="#ffffff" data-sc-color="#555555"][tab title="Details"] Finding a good hip flask is a relatively easy task. But finding one that can stand up to the punishment of outdoor adventure is a different story entirely. But it's familiar territory for the 8-ounce… read more

Master Unbreakable Hip Flask

Master Unbreakable Hip Flask

$40.00

[tab-section data-sc-active-background="#ffffff" data-sc-other-background="#ffffff" data-sc-color="#555555"][tab title="Details"] Finding a good hip flask is a relatively easy task. But finding one that can stand up to the punishment of outdoor adventure is a different story entirely. But it's familiar territory for the 8-ounce… read more

Kentucky Bourbon Trail 20220124 Justified“Tell me where your buddy is storing my Hammertone Green and Midnight Blue Stanley Easy-Fill Wide Mouth Flasks or I’ma put that wheelchair o’ yours in a wheelchair, ya understand? I’m sick and tired of folks grabbing my fresh Gallantry everyday carry when I’m trying to get prepared for my Kentucky Bourbon Trail® weekend!”

THE EASY-FILL WIDE MOUTH FLASK FROM STANLEY

THE EASY-FILL WIDE MOUTH FLASK FROM STANLEY HAMMERTONE GREEN

THE EASY-FILL WIDE MOUTH FLASK FROM STANLEY MIDNIGHT BLUE

This stainless steel wide-mouth flask from Stanley is sleek, slim, and imminently packable. With the ability to hold 8 ounces of your favorite beverage, this attractive flask is tough enough for everyday carry. Better still, this BPA-free, leakproof flask features internal threading for the easiest swig-ability you could ever ask for. Plus, with its never-lose cap, you’ll never lose a drop (besides the ones you land in your mouth, that is).

SPECIFICATIONS

  • 8 oz. capacity
  • Leak proof and packable
  • Never-lose cap
  • Wide mouth opening
  • 18/8 stainless construction
  • Internal threading on cap
  • BPA-free
  • 0.36 lbs. weight

Easy-Fill Wide Mouth Flask

Easy-Fill Wide Mouth Flask

$29.00

[tab-section data-sc-active-background="#ffffff" data-sc-other-background="#ffffff" data-sc-color="#555555"][tab title="Details"] This stainless steel wide-mouth flask from Stanley is sleek, slim, and imminently packable. Holding 8 oz of your favorite beverage, this attractive flask is tough enough for everyday carry. Better still, it's BPA-free, leakproof, and… read more

Easy-Fill Wide Mouth Flask

Easy-Fill Wide Mouth Flask

$29.00

[tab-section data-sc-active-background="#ffffff" data-sc-other-background="#ffffff" data-sc-color="#555555"][tab title="Details"] This stainless steel wide-mouth flask from Stanley is sleek, slim, and imminently packable. Holding 8 oz of your favorite beverage, this attractive flask is tough enough for everyday carry. Better still, it's BPA-free, leakproof, and… read more

#FLASKSEASON HAS OFFICIALLY ARRIVED

With any and/or all these flasks from Gallantry, you’ll definitely be getting a lot of envious looks from the other folks on your Kentucky Bourbon Trail tours. Then again, you’re a Gallantry Man legend, so you’re probably used to that by now. In any case, we can’t wait for you to start enjoying yourself as you sip on the most American of spirits in style.

You deserve it.

Oh, and did we mention that Justified is coming back? Yeah, best make that next sip of bourbon two fingers.

Kentucky Bourbon Trail 20220124 Justified “Raylan, it’s like I can still feel those sweet bourbon-filled glasses from our Kentucky Bourbon Trail® trip in my hands. I got that phantom bourbon, brother.”

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