Bartender pours a Fort Nelson Crusta at Michter’s Distillery’s Bar in Louisville (photo by Michael Pramik)
Food + Drink

Exploring Bourbon’s Magical City

Writer Michael Pramik embraces the allure of Louisville and stops along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, including the bed-and-breakfast Chateau Bourbon. 

As a bourbon enthusiast living in the heart of Ohio, I always look forward to visiting Louisville, Kentucky.

Louisville’s lively downtown is highlighted by bourbon-centric bars and restaurants, which foster a vibrant community of like-minded connoisseurs. I love wandering into a bistro or pizza joint and seeing diverse whiskey collections behind the bar. The city’s Whiskey Row is a historic thoroughfare where the rich flavors and aromas of finely crafted spirits are revered.

During my latest visit, I discovered two lodgings that truly shine in the realms of graciousness and the art of refinement. Hotel Distil is a jewel in the heart of Whiskey Row. You must respect a place that rings a bell in the lobby every day (at 19:33 military time) to mark the end of Prohibition nearly a century ago.

And for those who’d prefer to stay on the outskirts of town, there’s the wonderful bed-and-breakfast called Chateau Bourbon. The innkeepers, Missy and John Hillock, go all out to make spirits fans feel welcome through themed room decor, hearty morning meals that smartly employ bourbon in each course and a daily happy hour cocktail (with dessert) for all guests.

Each of these lodgings add to the city’s enchantment for bourbon devotees and can transform a Louisville sojourn into something even more special.

Missy Hillock with her husband, John, and her mother, Carol Thomas, have operated Chateau Bourbon Bed & Breakfast in Louisville for eight years. We asked Missy what it’s like to be a host along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.

Did you start Chateau Bourbon to capitalize on the bourbon explosion of the past decade?
We had been living in Norton Commons for a couple of years and saw the potential of the neighborhood. We love to travel, and we love bourbon, and we both really like to cook. It was just a good fit for us.

Chateau Bourbon is part of Select Registry, a listing of fine properties. What does that mean to your B&B?
We believe it gives us a good flow of visitors, as we’re one of 200 or so properties in the country with that distinction. I’m on the Select Registry board as well, so we have a good network of keepers across the country we can touch base with.

What do your guests say they like about coming to Louisville?
They like being exposed to so many brands of bourbon, some that a lot of people haven’t heard of in their state. There are a lot of whiskeys you can only get in Kentucky because it takes so long for smaller brands to get into different markets.

Did we hear you have your own bourbon brand coming out?
It will be called Kentucky Goddess, and it’s an ode to women in the bourbon industry. We’re going to be sourcing barrels and distilling at a local craft distillery. By this time next year, we’ll have our own bourbon. 

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