Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Kentucky Bourbon Trail “Mancations”

Vegas is so 5-years ago for a bachelor party or weekend with the guys. Sure, they have strip clubs where you can give a girl $20 to be nice to you for the duration of a 3 1/2 minute-long song. (Yes, they’re timed). You may also hit a dance bar and writhe your sweaty man-boobs against club-goers half your age (who only want you to buy them drinks, anyway). But, you may also wake up in a cheap motel with a pounding head, an empty wallet and a poker chip up your butt.

These ‘perils of party’ are much less likely along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.

September is National Bourbon Heritage Month and there is no better time to tour a distillery, learn how American whiskey is made and sample your favorite brands than now. Similar to wine tasting in Napa, the Kentucky Bourbon Trail winds through picturesque landscapes and delivers you to the origins of such brands as Knob Creek, Maker’s Mark, Woodford Reserve, Jim Beam, Buffalo Trace, and so on. You can often speak directly with the Master Distillers and learn why your favorite bourbon tastes so damn good, and what differentiates bourbon from other whiskeys. Learn more about in my post "What Makes Bourbon Bourbon?"

Plan your trip around the 2008 Kentucky Bourbon Festival which takes place from September 16-21. In addition to festivities in various barrel rooms along the trail, the annual Great Kentucky Bourbon Tasting and Gala is a swanky to-do featuring a gymnasium-sized tasting room where some of the most prestigious bourbon makers sample their prized batches of hooch. (I went last year and loved it - although I learned my lesson when it comes to the overproof hooch!)

And, don’t forget to plan a night on the town in Louisville itself. Yes, there is down-home barbeque (which you must try) but don’t be surprised by some higher end dining. My favorite was local hotspot Bourbons Bistro. In addition to a hopping bar scene and fine fare, it offers 125+ kinds of bourbon. Best of all, you can sample several by ordering a flight of three local whiskeys to pair with your slab of beef, pan-roasted salmon or bourbon-glazed duck breast. Top it off with a cigar and a round of poker and I think you’ve just entered Man-Heaven.

So, if your lady is driving you nuts, or the daily grind is getting you down, grab a few of your buddies and head to Kentucky. You may still wake up with a pounding head but there’s a pretty good chance the rest of you will remain in tact.

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