Louisville's Frazier History Museum (photo by Rachel Waters)
Food + Drink

13 Distilleries to Visit in Louisville

A spirits-focused getaway to Louisville offers plenty of choices. Here are more than a dozen good ones you can make when exploring bourbon in the city. 

Lying near the Ohio River in the heart of Louisville, Whiskey Row is ground zero for aficionados to kick off their Kentucky Bourbon Trail experience. This historic district has the official first stop on the trail: the Frazier History Museum on Main Street. Whiskey Row also is home to an array of distilleries and other whiskey-related stops, each with its unique charm and flavor profile. Here’s a guide to just some of what awaits.

Angel’s Envy Distillery: Angel’s Envy stands as a testament to post-craftsmanship, with its distinct aging process in barrels of varying spirits. Take the hour-long Signature Tour to witness how bourbon and rye are finished and sip a few samples.

Old Forester Distillery: Take a trip through the bourbon production facility, where a 44-foot column still greets visitors, and the art of cooperage is highlighted. Later, sip a flight of Old Forester’s Whiskey Row series of bourbon at the bar. 

Kentucky Peerless Distilling Co.: Kentucky Peerless is an old brand brought to life in the past decade. Peerless has gained a loyal following for its excellent bourbons and ryes.

Rabbit Hole Distillery: Get a tour of the whiskey and rye making process at Rabbit Hole that ends with tastings in their Overlook lounge. Be sure to sample the Bespoke Gin, the only gin finished in Kentucky Rye barrels.

Barrels & Billets: As a hidden gem on Whiskey Row, Barrels & Billets offers an immersive whiskey experience, in which visitors craft their own bottles from on-hand whiskeys of various flavor profiles. It’s next to the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, another fun stop.

Michter’s Fort Nelson Distillery: Michter’s pays homage to history at its Fort Nelson Distillery, housed within a meticulously restored 19th-century building. Here, you’ll savor small-batch spirits that have been painstakingly crafted. Don’t miss the well-appointed bar upstairs for a masterfully crafted cocktail.

Evan Williams Bourbon Experience: Step into the past at the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, where a sensory journey through time brings to life the legacy of Kentucky’s first commercial distiller. There’s usually an opportunity to purchase some of the brand’s lines that are unavailable, or in short supply, elsewhere.

Buzzard’s Roost: Near Evan Williams lies this relative newcomer to the Whiskey Row scene. Owned by Judy Hollis Jones and Jason Brauner, Buzzard’s Roost adds a layer of flavoring to distillate it purchases elsewhere by aging it in newly charred oak barrels. Take the bourbon/chocolate pairing class for a sublime introduction to this nouveau whiskey producer.

Copper & Kings: Venture beyond traditional bourbon with Copper & Kings’ avant-garde approach to distillation. Specializing in brandy, this distillery infuses creativity and a rock-and-roll spirit into every drop by “sonic aging,” exposing their distillate to pulsating bass rhythms through a chain of subwoofers.

Castle & Key 502: Grasp a taste of this Frankfort, Kentucky, distillery at the Falls City Market in downtown Louisville, a few blocks south of Main Street. Visitors can purchase spirit samples and cocktails as well as bottles of Castle & Key’s products.

Prohibition Craft Spirits: Take a cocktail class and go on a tour at this distillery that crafts bourbon, tequila, gin, vodka and rum.

Stitzel-Weller Distillery: Just outside of downtown is the maker of Blade and Bow, I.W. Harper and Orphan Barrel’s unique Scotch and bourbon labels. Try a chocolate pairing or taste cocktails through the ages. 

Proof Magazine is for Ohio spirit lovers. It is produced by Great Lakes Publishing three times a year. Dont miss an issue by subscribing to Ohio Magazine. View a digital version of the Proof Magazine Winter 2023 edition here