September’s Bourbon Heritage Month is an great time to celebrate America’s native spirit in Kentucky – where 95% of the special whiskey is made.
Once considered the “Wall Street of Whiskey” Louisville has been spirits-soaked ever since Evan Williams first marketed his whiskey to the city in 1783. Up until the 1920s, a portion of Main Street was known as “Whiskey Row” because more than 50 spirits-related businesses were operating there at the time. Thirteen years of Prohibition nearly decimated the industry, but now almost a century later, Louisville is brimming with Bourbon-themed restaurants, attractions, accommodations, and events.
Special dinners and events are being held throughout Bourbon Country, including the Kentucky Bourbon Festival later this month in Bardstown. Beginning September 1, here are some ways to celebrate Bourbon Heritage Month in Louisville:
Whiskey Walking Tours (Sept. 1,8,15,22, 29) – Learn Louisville’s special bourbon whiskey history during a free “Whiskey Walking Tour” through downtown Louisville. A “Looking at Louisville” tour guide will take you on a 10-block walking journey, sharing information about pre-Prohibition Louisville and the boom of bourbon on Whiskey Row that is still taking place to this day. Tours start at the Louisville Visitor Center, span 90 minutes and are capped at 10 participants. Tours are free, but participants are asked to register online. Walk-ins accommodated based on availability.
Hospitality & Heritage Walking Tours (Sept. 3, 10, 17, 24) – Explore Bourbon history and Louisville’s rich African American culture and hospitality, from Prohibition through Civil Rights. Enjoy a curated Bourbon Vibes guide by historian, curator, and guide Andrea Meriwether, with her recommendations about where to catch your own Bourbon Vibes in Bourbon City. Offered Fridays in September at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., free but advance reservations requested with walk-ins accommodated based on availability.
Black Americans in Bourbon Experience (Sept. 4, 11, 18, 25) – Held at the Frazier History Museum (home of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Welcome Center), hear the stories of African Americans who helped make one of the state’s greatest products, Bourbon, into America’s native spirit. Told from multiple points of view, this tour will take you on a journey from post-World War II to the present, offering an idea of what it took for African Americans to come out of the shadows and into today’s headlines. Tours run 3:30 p.m. on Saturdays. Book your tour at fraziermuseum.org/unfiltered.
$5 Buck Bluegrass (Sept. 9, 16, 23 & 30) – Experience Louisville’s heritage through music and taste on the scenic Ohio River while enjoying local Bluegrass music wharf side on the Mary M. Miller riverboat. Featuring unique bourbon that’s only found in Kentucky, the $5 series, starting September 9, will be held every Thursday in September from 7-10 p.m. (21+ only) Tickets available at belleoflouisville.org/special-events.
Kentucky Southern Social (Sept. 16 -18) – This Bourbon lovers’ weekend at the Omni Louisville Hotel offers special events including an Old Forester 150th Anniversary Dinner, Speakeasy Dinner with Rabbit Hold founder Kaveh Zamanian, Angel’s Envy Cocktail Hour & bottle engraving, and fireside cocktails with Peerless owner Corky Taylor, among others. More information can be found at kentuckysouthernsocial.com.
Art of Bourbon (Sept. 23) – Held at the Speed Art Museum, The Art of Bourbon combines Kentucky’s official art museum with Kentucky’s greatest product to produce the region’s premier bourbon and whiskey auction party. Curated with the support of Wall Street Journal bestselling author and renowned Bourbon critic Fred Minnick, this event will allow you to bid on some once-in-a-lifetime offerings. Find tickets at artofbourbon.org.
Louder Than Life (Sept. 23-26) – Local food and drink culture will be incorporated into the four-day festival’s culinary scene with pop-ups from popular Kentucky Bourbon brands and local Louisville restaurants. Headliners for the event include Metallica, Korn and Disturbed. Proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test within a maximum of 72-hours prior to the festival will be required in order to enter. See full lineups and ticket pricing here louderthanlifefestival.com.
ALL MONTH LONG
The Louisville Visitor Center will be offering 25% off Bourbon-themed merchandise throughout September. While there pick up the new Kentucky Bourbon Trail Field Guide & Passport for info on local and Kentucky-based distilleries or use Urban Bourbon Trail Passport as a guide to get a taste of some of Louisville’s best Bourbon bars and restaurants.
While planning a trip to Louisville for Bourbon Heritage Month, download a copy of Louisville Tourism’s annual Visitor Guide. Find more information at gotolouisville.com, including details about the state’s current covid-mitigation guidelines.
– Text & images courtesy Louisville Tourism