For the past two years we have retreated to a little cabin, called Mountain Berry, tucked away in the Smokey Mountains for our wedding anniversaries. This year though, we thought it would be fun to cross something off of our bucket list. So we decided to complete The Kentucky Bourbon Trail for our Leather (3rd) anniversary trip! We both have lived in Kentucky for most of our lives. Matt’s family moved here when he was 5 years old and for Blair, this is the only place she has ever called home. One of the biggest tourist attractions in the state, besides our horses and wildcats, is of course our Kentucky Bourbon. It’s one of the oldest traditions in the state and there is so much rich culture and history in it’s story that we really wanted to learn more about. Plus, we felt like living in Kentucky means we should at least attend one UK Wildcats game (check), blaze the bourbon trail (check), and go to the Derby (still working on that one, but we’ll get there one day)!
The first day we stopped to smell the roses at Four Roses, rode the kickin’ chicken at Wild Turkey and learned how to officially taste test bourbon at Woodford Reserve!
Then that night we decided to stay in the first Kentucky city we called home together as newlyweds, Lexington. We had only officially moved up to Northern Kentucky five months prior but so much had changed there since then. It was really interesting to drive around a place that just a few short months ago we called home and now be back as visitors. We drove by our first little newlyweds nest. A little one bedroom, one bathroom, 600 square feet cozy cottage, just big enough for the two of us, that we rented close to the steps of UK and a couple blocks from downtown when we were freshly married and still a couple of college kids. We thought it would be just a quick drive by, but some of our neighbors were out enjoying the nice late summer weather on their porch and noticed us. So we ended up stopping and talking for a good 45 minutes. We also go to eat at our favorite restaurant in the city, a little whole in the wall family owned Mexican place that we found back in our dating days. We would go there for birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, date nights, special first time marriage milestones, random weekday cravings.. we would go there for everything. They still have the best guacamole in our opinion!To end our first night on the trail, we decided it would be fun to walk around UK’s campus after dinner, like we used to when we were youngin’s. Man did it blow our minds. So much change! Places that we cherished, changed. The old dorm that Blair RA’d in till we got married in 2011, Keeneland Hall, was in the process of being demolished, and a set of brand new dorms had either already been finished and were move in ready or were in the process of being completed. We also go to walk over to Kirwan II, the first dorm that we lived in together, but not on purpose, during Matt’s sophomore year and Blair’s freshman. From the street view there were some new surroundings, but once we walked into the Blanding and Kirwan quad area it all looks relatively the same.
The second day we started out at Town Branch and then headed over the Makers Mark.
Then we stayed in Bardstown for the night. Little interesting side note, Bardstown was voted the most beautiful small town in the United States, or so that is what their town sign says. We had dinner at the historic Old Talbott Inn where it’s rumored that Jesse James would stay when we he came to visit his family. There are even bullet holes in one of the walls where he supposedly set off his gun one night!! We almost stayed there as well but then we learned about all the different ghost stories, and even though we don’t believe in them, it freaked us out a little bit, mainly Blair, as so we decided to just stick with our dinner reservations.
For our last day on the trail we headed to Heaven Hill, then Jim Beam and finally Evan Williams. Then headed over the the Louisville Visitors Center to turn in our passports and pick up the t-shirts that only those who have officially completed the trail are given as a right of passage, if you will.
It was such an amazing adventure and we definitely had a great time doing it together. We would highly recommend all Kentuckians, those who are visiting The Bluegrass State, those who call Kentucky their old Kentucky home or those who just have a special love for Wildcat Countries culture and heritage to check out the Bourbon Trail. There’s definitely more than meets the eye on this specific journey. You don’t have to be a Bourbon connoisseur or a huge history buff to enjoy what each distillery has to offer. They are all uniquely beautiful and fascinating in their own ways.
Much Love & Prayer,
Matt & Blair