Sometimes you don't have a four-hour window to drive across the Bluegrass countryside, take a distillery tour, wander the gift shop a bit, and return home. Rather, you have a finite window for catching local flavor before a University of Kentucky basketball game. That's the situation we found ourselves in last month when we grabbed the last tour of the day at Alltech's Lexington Brewing and Distilling Co. Along with other fellow bourbon and beer aficionados (some of them home brewers), we learned about the brewing operation for Kentucky Ale, the aging procedure for Kentucky Bourbon Ale, and--my favorite part--the distilling process for Town Branch Bourbon. Our knowledgeable tour guide answered questions about both the brewery and the distillery with ease, and his manner helped build a rapport among the visitors. At the end of the tour we tasted Town Branch, Pearse Lyons Reserve, and Bluegrass Sundown (dark roasted coffee infused with Kentucky Bourbon and sugar, served with boiling water and cream as an after-dinner drink ... in a word, "yum").
Yes, part of the attraction of the bourbon trail is the beautiful drives it affords. But I was particularly pleased to find this relatively inexpensive tour a mere 10 minutes from home. Out-of-town visitors can get the last stamp in their bourbon trail passport before spending the evening in charming Lexington. I recommend grabbing dinner at Dudley's on Short before the basketball game or other evening activity downtown.