Derby Americana: Kentucky Derby bourbon tour

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August 27th, 2020

The Kentucky Derby is deeply woven into the fabric of Americana. This iconic event goes beyond horse racing and touches many facets of culture and leisure, and this Derby Americana examines some of these ties.

In this edition, we look at bourbon, a spirit synonymous with Kentucky. It crowns the mint julep, which is on a 100-year run as a quintessential Derby tradition. Kentucky bourbon’s renown extends beyond the Run for the Roses, throughout the seasons and the world. The elixir even won over animal enthusiasts, like Kentucky artist Henry Faulkner’s beloved goat, Alice.

Bring a portion of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail to your Derby party, or make plans to visit some of the commonwealth’s 37 distilleries the next time you are in bluegrass country.

Here are a few labels to consider for either endeavor.

Woodford Reserve

Woodford Reserve, the presenting sponsor of the Kentucky Derby, boasts one of the oldest yet smallest distilleries in the state.

Formerly known as the Old Oscar Pepper Distillery and later the Labrot & Graham Distillery, production began on the site in 1812. Although it experienced a few lapses in operation, the main structure, built in 1838, is still in use.

Buffalo Trace

One of four distilleries that continued production through prohibition for medicinal purposes, the expansive, 400-acre campus was formerly home to George T. Stagg Distillery and the Old Fire Copper Distillery.

In addition to fostering craft bourbon for over 200 years, the grounds helped Kentucky burgoo gain its legendary reputation.

Maker’s Mark

Maker’s Mark is a large-scale operation, with a first-class tour that helped establish bourbon tourism.

In the past, the campus featured installations by glass artists Dale Chihuly and Stephen Rolfe Powell, and visitors can hand-dip their own bottles.

Limestone Branch

A boutique distillery, Limestone Branch is part of the Jim Beam family. They distill Yellowstone Select, named in honor of the national park, and aired their first TV ads during the season-three premier of Yellowstone, starring Kevin Costner.

If bourbon isn’t your drink of choice, consider celebrating with Blue Moon, the official craft beer of the Kentucky Derby. Or marry ale and bourbon in a satisfying way with the Blue Moon Grandstand.