Downtown Louisville (photo by Michael Pramik)
Food + Drink

Check Out These Spots on Louisville’s Whiskey Row

As the starting point for the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, Louisville’s Whiskey Row is ground zero for visitors to bourbon country. Here are two spots our writer loved.

When calling on this historic street lined with distilleries and vibrant entertainment, check into these two exceptional accommodations that promise not just a place to rest, but an immersive experience into this welcoming region. Enter the luxurious haven of Chateau Bourbon Bed & Breakfast in Norton Commons and the vibrant tapestry of Hotel Distil in downtown Louisville — each offering a distinct perspective on hospitality and the spirit that defines Kentucky.

Chateau Bourbon: Where Whiskey Elegance and Southern Comfort Meet

I made a small miscalculation when measuring the bourbon-related knickknacks in the Single Barrel Suite at Chateau Bourbon. I counted 20, including glasses, coasters, photographs and even the Jim Beam-branded hand soap. It was really 21 bourbon-themed items. I didn’t realize co-owner John Hillock had crafted the bed’s headboard out of French Oak staves used to make Maker’s 46, mimicking a display in the living room of this comfortable B&B.

“When they were putting it up, you could smell the whiskey on them,” says co-owner Missy Hillock, John’s wife. “It was so good!”

Indeed, you’ll get a full dose of the amber elixir at this four-room B&B situated in the looks-old-but-feels-new urban community called Norton Commons, 20 minutes from Whiskey Row. A blend of modern amenities and historic influences creates an atmosphere that feels both timeless and contemporary.

Chateau Bourbon offers more than just a place to lay your head; it’s an immersion into the world of whiskey, hospitality and Southern charm for the bourbon fan. It’s run by the Hillocks, who for eight years have delighted bourbon fans with their spirits-influenced food and their welcoming hospitality. They’re happy to talk all things bourbon.

At 5 p.m. each day, the hosts serve dessert along with a handcrafted cocktail. On my visit, it was a slice of heavenly strawberry shortcake along with a Chateau Bourbon Sour, their take on a New York Sour, with a float of red wine topping the tart bourbon drink.

Breakfast is a bourbon-enhanced feast, as Missy and John say they like to introduce the spirit into each course. That certainly was true — bourbon-soaked cherries adorning the homemade granola; a bacon, cheese and egg souffle served with a side of Evan Williams hot sauce; and waffles with buttered bourbon syrup.

Step out to walk to Watch Hill Proper, a bourbon bar a few blocks away. Select from a dizzying array of some 1,500 American whiskeys. You won’t find clear spirits or beer, but you’ll discover a tidy, eclectic menu where the dishes range from sashimi to lobster rolls to huge steaks. Also a block from Chateau Bourbon is Commonwealth Tap, a neighborhood bar with fine cocktails and a well-curated wine list.

10630 Meeting St., Louisville, Kentucky 40059, 502/290-6553,


Hotel Distil: Where the End of Prohibition is Ringed in Daily

Each evening, guests of Hotel Distil are invited to gather in the modern lobby of the Whiskey Row property. A hotel employee rings a bell (loudly) to celebrate the end of Prohibition, and guests may imbibe in a complimentary toast.

The bell rings precisely at 7:33 p.m. That’s 19:33 in military time, honoring the year that Prohibition ended. It’s a worthy toast to the end of an era many would love to forget, but which accurately captures the spirit of Whiskey Row.

Hotel Distil, a 205-room Marriott Autograph Collection property, stands out. The site was the birthplace of J.T.S. Brown bourbon, which in 1870 was the first whiskey to be sold in a sealed, glass bottle. The founder, George Garvin Brown, later teamed up with his friend and accountant, George Forman, to establish the Brown-Forman company. It’s now one of the world’s largest spirits makers, owning Jack Daniel’s, Old Forester and Woodford Reserve whiskey brands, in addition to several other spirits labels.

Upon checking in, I was presented with a “prescription card,” reminiscent of those issued by pharmacies during Prohibition, which was my ticket to the nightly cocktail hour.

The hotel is a barrel’s roll from the Old Forester Distillery and is an excellent site to reach many of Whiskey Row’s distilleries, eateries and other attractions by foot. One is attached to the hotel, the prime steakhouse known as Repeal. Steaks here are grilled on a fire enflamed with barrel staves from several nearby distilleries, lending a slight smokiness to the expertly prepared filet mignon.

The bourbon is similarly luxurious. Guests at Repeal can order single pours or flights from an extensive bourbon menu, and sample rare drams from the restaurant’s well-curated specialty bourbon cabinet.

A prime option for guests in the hotel’s upscale suites is an in-room cart service. A staff “bourbon ambassador” will assist with single pours and cocktails from a themed whiskey collection of the guest’s choice. 

101 W. Main St., Louisville, Kentucky 40202, 502/785-0185,