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Distilleries Dress Up and Toast the Holiday Season on the Kentucky Bourbon Tour

Woodford Reserve, Kentucky Bourbon Tour

Woodford Reserve, Kentucky Bourbon Tour

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- Kentucky’s distilleries are ramping up their activities for the holidays, adding winter pleasures to their offerings with holiday cheer.

Tours for holiday guests, gift shops with ideas for discerning shoppers, homemade eggnog, and tastings for those over 21 are just some of the festive activities on the distilleries’ agenda this time of year.

Like snow flakes, no two distilleries are alike, so make plans to visit several to feel the unique ambience of these great Kentucky landmarks. The Bourbon Trail’s eight stalwarts, Woodford Reserve, Maker’s Mark, Jim Beam, Heaven Hill, Four Roses, Wild Turkey and Tom Moore, offer distinct pleasures to the wintertime visitor.

All welcome you in with a hearty dose of Bluegrass hospitality, especially at this time of year. Savor the flavors of the season, and enjoy your visit to the distillers’ domain.

Each year Maker’s Mark ( ups the ante for cheer at its Loretto distillery near Bardstown. This year promises to be one of the best with two annual candlelight tours from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Saturday Dec. 5 and Dec. 12. Ice skate from noon to 9 p.m. For more info call 270-865-2099 or for a shuttle tour from Louisville, visit

Festive lights at Buffalo Trace Distillery at Frankfort add to the bourbon maker’s winter appeal. Buffalo Trace kicks off another holiday season on Thursday, Dec. 3 at 7 p.m. with the annual lighting. It’s a magical evening of holiday cheer, refreshments and a visit from the man of the hour—Santa Claus! See the lights any night Dec. 3 through Dec. 31, starting at dusk and ending at 11 p.m. For more info call 800-654-8471 or visit

From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 12, the Woodford Reserve Distillery Visitor Center hosts its annual Holiday Open House along Glenn’s Creek. Near Versailles it’s a warm, inviting retreat where you can see how bourbon has been made for generations and take in the gorgeous surroundings. Homemade baked goods and candy cane-infused Bourbon will be available for sampling. This day only, the gift shop will offer the opportunity to make your very own unique ornament. Distillery tours leave hourly, with all proceeds from tour tickets going to God’s Pantry Food Bank in Woodford County. From Nov. 27 through Dec. 26, the annual gourmet holiday luncheons are served Wednesdays through Saturdays (reservations recommended). For more info call 859-879-1872 or visit

Heaven Hill Distilleries Bourbon Heritage Center prides itself on the largest indoor Christmas tree and indoor decorations in Nelson County. The open house is free so come out and enjoy the festivities Dec. 7-8 and 14-15. Hitch a ride on a holiday express aboard Heaven Hill Distilleries Trolley Tour which runs Dec. 8, 14 & 15. Visit their web site at for more information or call 502-510-0012.

All eight distilleries on The Bourbon Trail offer tours of their grounds and the winter season provides a whole new look. For more information about other trail distilleries’ tours, call Four Roses at 502-839-3436; Tom Moore at 502-348-3774; Wild Turkey at 502-839-4544; and Jim Beam at 502-543-9877.

Shop, dine and tour the nearby cities of Frankfort, Versailles and Bardstown along historic Main streets. Make it a weekend getaway and book a local bed & breakfast inn or other lodging and absorb the holiday cheer.

For more information go to (502-875-8687); (859-873-5122) for Versailles; and (800-638-4877).

More info on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail can be found at Visit for many more ideas about things to do in bourbon country and the rest of the commonwealth during the holidays.

Photo by Jesse Bruce

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