Introducing the Urban Bourbon Trail

William M. Dowd photo

LOUISVILLE, KY -- The American Whiskey Trail, which was created by the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. (DISCUS) several years ago, covers a meandering path connecting places in New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee.

However, more localized trails now are popping up. The Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau has just launched what it calls the "Urban Bourbon Trail." And it, in turn, was created to complement the Kentucky Bourbon Trail recently designated by the Kentucky Distiller’s Association and Kentucky Department of Tourism.

The American Whiskey Trail covers a range of distilleries, historic hostelries, museums and other tourist sites. The Urban Bourbon Trail directs visitors to eight Louisville establishments that feature Kentucky whiskey, most of them in the city's vibrant 4th Street Live! district. Five are in hotels.

The Urban Bourbon Trail has a free passport program you can pick up at the city visitors center, 4th Street and Jefferson (502/379-6109). You can tour the entire Trail over any period of time you want, get the passport stamped when you visit each location and purchase a drink or food there, then redeem the completed passport at the visitors center for a T-shirt and a chance at a premium giveaway.

The Trail spots:

• Seelbach Hotel: This is a gorgeous, meticulously restored example of the golden age of grand hotels. Check my story "The grande dames of Southern hospitality" for a closer look at the historic spot.

• Jockey Silks Bourbon Bar & Lounge: A logical name for a city that hosts the Kentucky Derby. It's an old-fashioned style place, located in the Galt House Hotel & Suites and offering 165 varieties of bourbon.

• Proof on Main: This establishment is, in a sense, 5-in-1. It's part of the fascinating 21c Museum, a combination hotel, restaurant, lounge and museum housed in five historic buildings. Go here for my story and photos.

• Maker’s Mark Bourbon House & Lounge: You actually can get a lot more than Maker's Mark bourbon in this lively spot in the heart of the Fourth Street Live! entertainment neighborhood. Tends toward a younger crowd taking advantage of the looong bar for conversation.

• Blu: Located in the Downtown Marriott hotel, this contemporary spot offers dozens of bourbons, bourbon flights and bourbon-infused appetizers.

• The Brown: This landmark hotel built in the 1920s is a Louisville landmark with a glitzy lobby bar.

• Park Place on Main: A private line of Woodford Reserve bourbons is among the many offerings -- including very nice bourbon flights -- in the lounge, along with all sorts of bourbon-infused appetizers.

• Bourbons Bistro: The only stop on the Trail that is outside downtown, but that doesn't mean it's not worth traveling two miles to see Historic Frankfort Avenue. The spot offers 130 bourbons and in 2006 was named Whisky Magazine's “American Icon of Whiskey” among bars and restaurants.

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