Bourbon Heritage Month is celebrated during the month of September. It is a time set aside by the United States Senate to focus on “America’s Native Spirit”. As Kentuckians, it is our time to stand a little taller as all eyes look toward the birthplace of bourbon as we celebrate its rich history, its colorful stories and the important role it plays both economically and socially. I can think of no better place to do this than the beautiful city of Bardstown.
Only Bardstown has the Kentucky Bourbon Festival which begins September 18th and runs through the 22nd.
Untold thousands will descend on the “Bourbon Capital of the World”, a small town of about 12,000 people that is 57 miles southeast of Louisville, to do a deep dive into the history of bourbon, special tastings, the science behind the elixir, and best of all, food and bourbon pairings. All the greats will be there including Buffalo Trace, Heaven Hill, Barton 1792, Brown-Forman, Jim Beam, Makers Mark, Michter's and many more!
Rand McNally and USA Today declared Bardstown the Most Beautiful Small Town in America and it’s easy to see why. Its picturesque downtown has many of the same structures that existed back when the town was settled in 1780. Be sure to dine at the Old Talbott Tavern, the oldest western stagecoach stop in America. The food is delicious and you can almost feel the presence of notable historic figures like George Rogers Clark and Andrew Jackson, both of whom stayed there. The people of Bardstown are super friendly and welcoming, just as you would expect in the South. They preserve their history, especially their bourbon heritage, but are also looking towards the future with the addition of new distilleries.
Bardstown Bourbon Company is a new blend of bourbon makers that according to their website has a “focus on transparency – all open spaces and clear glass – putting the science and craft of whiskey-making front and center for all to see”. Their restaurant on the premises is called Bottle and Bond, a stunningly beautiful and airy space that makes you feel like you’re dining in Napa Valley and not in the cornfields of Kentucky. The focus is on providing a dining experience that centers around fresh food prepared simply that brings people together around the table. This restaurant is a jewel in the crown that is Bardstown and everyone needs to pay them a visit.
Outside of the Kentucky Bourbon Festival, there are a ton of other things to do in Bardstown, including touring My Old Kentucky Home, the 19th century mansion that was named after the song written by America’s first songwriter Stephen Foster. It contains many antiques that were original to the property. The grounds and buildings of this historic plantation have been meticulously maintained and the tour guides do an excellent job of regaling you with stories of duels, horse racing, fortune and a terrible death. Just down the road from the mansion is the outdoor amphitheater that hosts the “Stephen Foster Musical”, as well as other musical acts throughout the year. Listening to beautiful music under a canopy of trees and stars is truly a unique Kentucky experience.
Natural beauty, plenty to do and, of course, bourbon are three main reasons to visit Bardstown, Kentucky. This fall is the perfect time to experience all it has to offer and to help plan your trip, go to www.visitbardstown.com.