top 10 bourbon distillery tours in the united states

Every Bourbon lover knows that a distillery is at the heart of their favorite sip. But for those new to the kingdom of this adored amber spirit, let’s learn what a distillery really is and how it works.

How a Distillery Works

A bourbon or whiskey/whisky distillery is a facility that produces an alcoholic beverage via the process of distillation. Distillation is a method of separating and purifying liquids by heating them to the point of evaporation and then condensing the resulting vapor.

The Distillation Process

bourbon distillation process

In the distillery, raw ingredients, such as grains, corn, or potatoes, are mixed with water to create a liquid known as a mash.
The mash is then fermented, usually with the help of yeast, to produce an alcoholic liquid called a wash. The wash is then heated in a still, a large, vessel-like structure, to vaporize the alcohol. The vapor is then cooled and condensed back into a liquid, which is the finished product.

The US has over 1500 distilleries, from small macro operations that produce a limited number of releases and small batches, to large, industrial-scale distilleries producing a collection of bourbons and whiskies. The process of distillation has been practiced by many cultures around the world for centuries.

Are Distilleries Open to the General Public

Distilleries sure are open to the general public. In fact, distillery tours have started to become more popular than winery tours across the United States.
One of the most popular distillery tours is The Bourbon Trail®.

The Bourbon Trail is a group of distilleries in the U.S. state of Kentucky that offer tours and tastings of their bourbons and whiskey collections. These distilleries are located in the central region of Kentucky, which is famous for its production of bourbon. Many of the distilleries on the Bourbon Trail are located in or near Louisville, others are located in the surrounding countryside.

kentucky bourbon trail map

Map of The Bourbon Trail®, Kentucky / Image © Kentucky Distillers Association

The Bourbon Trail was created to promote and celebrate the rich history and culture of bourbon production in Kentucky. Visitors to the Bourbon Trail can take guided tours of the distilleries, learn about the process of making bourbon, and sample various types of bourbon.

Is Kentucky The Only State with Distillery Tours?

Most distilleries across the United States offer distillery tours, along with additional activities such as cooking classes, and restaurants, such as the Texas-based Garrison Brothers Distillery Whiskey Shack where you can sample delicious snacks from their seasonal menu as you sip on Garrison Brothers finest Bourbons.

Our Top US Distillery Picks

With over 1000 distilleries across the US, it’s hard to list our top distillery picks, but we’ve toured, sipped, and experienced the delights of these beverage masters to give you a list of must-vi distilleries to visit.

1. Buffalo Trace Distillery, Kentucky

buffalo trace distillery

Buffalo Trace Distillery, Kentucky. Image © Buffalo Trace Distillery

Buffalo Trace Distillery is located in Frankfort, Kentucky and produces a variety of spirits, including bourbon, rye whiskey, and vodka.

Founded in 1787 and is one of the oldest continuously operating distilleries in the United States. The distillery is named after the buffalo trace, a path created by bison that once crossed the Kentucky River near the distillery.

Buffalo Trace Distillery is known for its award-winning bourbons, including Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Eagle Rare Bourbon, and Blanton's Single Barrel Bourbon. It is also home to a series of limited-edition whiskies, aged in different barrels and experimental conditions.

Buffalo Trace Distillery is open for tours and tastings Monday - Saturday: 9 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. and Sunday: 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Bookings are required.

2. Stitzel-Weller Distillery, Kentucky

stitzel-weller distillery

Stitzel-Weller Distillery, Kentucky. Image © Stitzel-Weller Distillery

The Stitzel-Weller Distillery tour is one for the history buffs and features in our top 10 due to popularity.
Stitzel-Weller was a bourbon distillery located in Louisville, Kentucky. It was founded in 1935 by Julian "Pappy" Van Winkle Sr. and a group of investors and operated until 1991 when it was closed by its then-owner, United Distillers.

During its time of operation, the distillery was known for producing some of the finest bourbons in the world, including Pappy Van Winkle premium bourbons. The distillery was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1990. The old distillery buildings were later renovated and re-opened as a tourist destination called the Bulleit Frontier Whiskey Experience at Stitzel-Weller, which offers guided tours and tastings of Bulleit Bourbon.

Pappy Van Winkle is now distilled at Buffalo Trace Distillery.

Stitzel-Weller Distillery is open Wednesday - Sunday 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Bookings are required.

3. Woodford Reserve Distillery, Kentucky

woodford reserve distillery

Woodford Reserve Distillery, Kentucky. Image © Woodford Reserve Distillery

Woodford Reserve Distillery is a bourbon distillery located in Woodford County, Kentucky. Founded in 1812 it is now owned by the luxury goods company LVMH. The distillery is known for producing high-quality bourbon, including the in-demand Woodford Reserve Bourbon, using traditional methods and locally-sourced ingredients. The distillery offers tours of its facilities, which include a cooperage where barrels are made, a rickhouse where the bourbon ages, and a bottling line.

Open Monday - Saturday 9 a.m. - 5.00 p.m. and Sunday 12 p.m. - 4 p.m. Bookings are essential.

4. Four Roses Distillery, Kentucky

four roses distillery

Four Roses Distillery, Kentucky. Image © Four Roses Distillery

Four Roses Distillery is a bourbon distillery located in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. It was founded in 1888 by Paul Jones Jr., who named the brand after the beauty of the roses that grew at the distillery and his love for his Southern belle, Miss Mary Little. Four Roses has a long history in the bourbon industry, and its bourbons are known for their smooth, mellow flavor.

Distillery business hours are: Wednesday – Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.. Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.

5. Heaven Hill Distillery

heaven hill distillery

Heaven Hill Distillery, Kentucky. Image © Heaven Hill Distillery

Heaven Hill Distillery is a privately owned and family-operated company and one of the largest and oldest bourbon distillers in the United States. Located in Bardstown, Kentucky, Heaven Hill was founded in 1935 by five brothers who were members of the Shapira family. The company is named after a hill near Bardstown where the original distillery was located.

Heaven Hill is known for producing a wide range of spirits, including bourbon, rye, vodka, gin, and brandy. Its most famous brand is Evan Williams, a bourbon brand named after the distillery's founder. The company also produces other popular bourbon brands, such as Elijah Craig and Larceny.

Distillery bookings can be made via the website.

6. Garrison Brothers Distillery, Texas

garrison brothers distillery

Garrison Brothers Distillery, Texas. Image © Garrison Brothers Distillery

Garrison Brothers Distillery is a Texas-based distillery that is known for producing high-quality bourbon. The company was founded by Dan Garrison in 2006 and is located in Hye, Texas, in the Hill Country region.

The distillery produces a range of bourbons, including its flagship Bourbon Garrison Brothers, as well as a number of limited edition and special releases.
Bourbon produced by Garrison Brothers is made using locally grown corn, wheat, and barley and is aged in oak barrels for at least four years. The company is known for using traditional, time-honored techniques in the production of its bourbon, and has earned a reputation for producing some of the finest bourbons in the United States.

Open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m, visit the website to book a tour of Garrison Brothers Distillery.

7. Balcones Distilling, Texas

balcones distilling

Balcones Distilling, Texas | Image © Conde Naste Traveler

A new kid on the block, in 2008, Balcones was nothing more than an idea driven by a passion to create something original and authentic, right in the Heart of Texas. It all started in an old welding shop under a bridge in Waco. For the next year, major renovations made way for new pipes and copper pot stills from Portugal. Balcones commenced distilling in 2009.

Balcones Distillery Tours run from Thursday to Sunday, bookings can be made through the website.

8. Bardstown Bourbon Company, Kentucky

bardstown bourbon compnay

Bardstown Bourbon Company, Kentucky | Image © Bardstown Bourbon Co

Bardstown Bourbon Company unite some of the most experienced bourbon distillers in the industry under one roof. This distillery process produces nearly 40 unique mash bills for some of the finest whiskey and bourbon brands, including Jefferson’s Bourbon, High West, Belle Meade, Calumet and many others, lead by three masters and a first-class team of operators, using some of the most sophisticated technology in distilling.

Open Wednesday to Sunday, tours can be booked via the website.

9. Maker’s Mark Distillery

maker's mark distillery

Marker’s Mark Distillery, Kentucky | Image © Maker’s Mark Distillery

Bill Samuels, Sr.'s quest to create Maker's Mark began with his only copy of the family's trusted, 170-year-old recipe that he accidently set on fire.

After unfortunately burning a set of drapes in the process, Bill experimented with different flavoring grains, searching for a mash bill all his own. To save years of aging time, Bill baked several loaves of bread with various grain combinations instead of distilling them. His quick thinking not only saved time but also led him to swap out the traditional rye grain that is commonly used in bourbons for soft, red winter wheat. This replaced the hot bite of rye with the delicate sweetness that Maker's® is known for today.

Distillery tours can be booked via the website.

10. Michter’s Distillery

michter's distillery

Michter’s Distillery, Kentucky | Image © Michter’s Distillery

Located at 801 West Main Street in the heart of downtown Louisville, Michter’s Fort Nelson Distillery is across the street from the Louisville Slugger Museum & Bat Factory and down the block from the Frazier History Museum, which has been designated the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® Welcome Center and serves as the official starting point of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail®.

Distillery tours operate Wednesday to Saturday every hour from 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. and Sunday 1 p.m. - 4 p.m.




Our List of Top US Distilleries

Name of Distillery



Rabbit Hole

Lighthouse Liquor 428 N 3rd St. Fredonia, KS 66736

Ole Smoky

423 6th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37203

James B. Beam Distilling Co.

Clermont, KY

Maker's Mark Distillery on Star Hill Farm℠

3350 Burks Spring Rd, Loretto, KY 40037

Woodford Reserve

7785 McCracken Pike Versailles, KY 40383

Buffalo Trace Distillery

113 Great Buffalo Trace Frankfort, KY 40601

Four Roses Distillery

1224 Bonds Mill Rd Lawrenceburg, KY 40342

Castle & Key Distillery

4445 McCracken Pike Frankfort, KY 40601

Bardstown Bourbon Company


The Green River Distilling Co.

Owensboro, Kentucky 42301

Heaven Hill Brands

Heaven Hill Distillery Bardstown, KY

Bulleit Distilling Co.

Bulleit Distilling Co., Louisville, KY

Kentucky Bourbon Trail

829 West Main Street Louisville, KY 40202

Jeptha Creed

500 Gordon Lane Shelbyville, KY 40065

Tennessee Whiskey

250 Rep. John Lewis Way South Nashville, TN 3720

Kings County Distillery

299 Sands Street, Bldg 121 Brooklyn, NY 11205

St. Augustine Distillery

112 Riberia St. St. Augustine, FL 32084


301 E Cromwell St, Baltimore, MD 21230

Westland Distillery


Balcones Distilling

225 S. 11TH ST. WACO, TX 76701

Breckenridge Distillery

1925 Airport Rd, Breckenridge, CO 80424

Garrison Brothers Distillery

1827 Hye Albert Road Hye, Texas 78635

Stitzel-Weller Distillery

3860 Fitzgerald Road, Louisville, KY 40216

Hudson Whiskey

14 Grist Mill Lane, Gardiner, NY 12525

Tom's Foolery

17520 Rapids Road, Burton, OH 4402

Hayner Distilling & Importing

619 Lincoln Avenue Troy, Ohio 45373


7095 Staley Rd New Carlisle, Ohio United States of America

Heidelberg Distributing Company


Old Dominick Distillery

305 S. FRONT ST. MEMPHIS, TN 38103


1 Lux Row (3050 E John Rowan Blvd) Bardstown, KY 40004

Bourbon history

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