How to: (Safely) Tour Kentucky's Bourbon Trail by Bicycle

by  Caroline Eubanks | Dec 3, 2014
Bourbon barrels
Bourbon barrels / kellyvandellen/iStock

The iconic Bourbon Trail: the booze-soaked area between Lexington and Louisville, Kentucky, where you’ll find rolling hills lined with wooden fences between the country’s best bourbon distilleries. Most opt to drive it, but for a more unique way to visit the distilleries, try riding a bicycle.

It’s not an easy endeavor, as the distance between distilleries vary, but experienced cyclists will appreciate the challenge of the hilly course -- and it’s certainly a beautiful way to see this part of the country. The official Bourbon Trail includes three bike routes of varying levels, including a three-distillery course, a shorter six-distillery course, and a longer six-distillery course. Pro tip: Stay in Lexington or Frankfort and transport your bikes from there. Otherwise, you can bike the 30-plus miles from downtown Lexington to the first distillery, Woodford Reserve, or drive to the distillery and leave a car.

The most popular course is the three-distillery, approximately 50-mile loop that visits some of the top bourbon distilleries on the trail. Should you decide to follow the route precisely, you’ll first visit Woodford Reserve, which is known for its top shelf bourbon. A tour here will cost $10 and includes a walk around the country’s oldest working bourbon distillery as well as a tasting at the end. After cycling down the country roads, you’ll reach Wild Turkey. Here, $5 gets you a tour, tastings, and a rundown on how bourbon is made. Last up is Four Roses, a small batch distillery built in 1910 in the Spanish Mission style. Tours are $5 and include a visit to their bottling facility.

For a fun (yet safe) experience cycling the Bourbon Trail, print out a free a map and bring cash along with a government-issued ID. Be sure to wear a helmet while on your bike and reflective clothing. And, of course, never ride your bike while intoxicated.

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