Apr 21, 2020

On the Kentucky Bourbon Trail: Wild Turkey

Our second day touring the Kentucky Bourbon Trail had begun with a drive south from Bardstown through the rolling hills and winding roads of central Kentucky to the Maker’s Mark distillery outside of Loretto.  From there, we found a quick and efficient route back north (the relatively new Ky. Hwy. 555 north from Smithfield, then east on the four-lane Bluegrass Parkway, then north on U.S. Hwy. 127) to Lawrenceburg and our next destination.  Punky was pleased, for much of mid-afternoon was being spent on Wild Turkey time.

Apr 14, 2020

On the Kentucky Bourbon Trail: Heaven Hill and Maker’s Mark

My first post revisiting our trip last summer on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail was devoted entirely to the Jim Beam distillery in Clermont.  The second post of the series will be devoted to two more brief stops along the way – the first being the Heaven Hill Distillery and Bourbon Heritage Center in Bardstown, and then the Maker’s Mark distillery near the small town of Loretto.  

After we left the Jim Beam distillery, Punky and I headed to Bardstown where we checked in to the historic Talbott Inn (more on that in a future blog post), got our bearings and determined we could fit in one more stop along the trail before closing time.  I found it a little odd that even at the height of a tourism weekend, many visitor’s centers along the trail close at 5 p.m. or even earlier.

Fortunately, Heaven Hill was just minutes away on the south edge of Bardstown.  All it took was a drive past My Old Kentucky Home State Park and historic site, then south on Ky. Hwy. 49 past the state park’s campground and once the woods clear …

 … you’ll see rows and rows of rickhouses in the fields and on the surrounding hillsides.  With all this bourbon being stored and aged around you, the name Heaven Hill seems fitting.    

Apr 10, 2020

On the Kentucky Bourbon Trail: Jim Beam

Ever since I was old enough to enjoy good bourbon (which is very different than simply being old enough to drink bourbon), I had always wanted to hit the road for a weekend exploring as many distilleries as I could on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.  I’ve been to and through Kentucky more times than I can count due to my family’s connections there and its proximity to my home state of Illinois, but the many famous (and some less famous) and historical distilleries where I believe the best bourbons are made had always eluded my radar. 

Last summer, Punky convinced me to finally pull the trigger on just such a trip over Memorial Day weekend, and it turned out to be one of the many travel highlights of the year.  We decided to make historic Bardstown, Ky., the epicenter of our trip, selected a handful of distilleries near Bardstown and the state capital of Frankfort from our “most wanted” list and plotted our course for two full days of touring.   

We chose to make the Jim Beam distillery in Clermont as our first stop on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, partly because of its name recognition, partly because of its proximity to Bardstown and partly because of the route we chose to get there … we really wanted to avoid Louisville and really wanted to stop for lunch at the Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn in Owensboro.  Once we were past Owensboro, it was an easy and scenic drive on Kentucky’s parkway system to Elizabethtown, then just 20 minutes up Interstate 65 to the Clermont exit.  

It’s safe to say without Jim Beam Clermont would probably not even exist anymore.  As it is, Clermont is an unincorporated village off the side of Ky. Highway 245 as the road meanders east the interstate to Bardstown.  Before you get in the thick of the woods that comprise the Bernheim Forest, look off to the north for the first signs of Clermont and its most famous (if not only) business.   

Apr 1, 2020

A commoner drinks at Captain Tony’s Saloon, Key West, Fla.

If the Green Parrot Bar is my favorite Key West bar for chilling out and hiding among the locals, then Captain Tony’s Saloon must be my favorite bar on the island for getting a truly “only in Key West” experience.  There really is no other bar like Captain Tony’s I’ve ever encountered, and its uniqueness can be traced to its storied history, and an owner with a gloriously checkered past. 

A commoner dines at Baumgartner’s Cheese Store and Tavern, Monroe, Wis.

I wasn’t sure a place existed that could be the perfect representation of Wisconsin life, but then I traveled through Monroe, Wis., one week...