Lexington, Kentucky

Lexington, Kentucky is Bourbonland. See why the city is bourbon’s past and future

A distillery in Lexington, Kentucky

Photo: Courtesy of VisitLEX

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Nestled within undulating hills of bluegrass and surrounded by pristine horse farms, Lexington, Kentucky, is more than just an equestrian center; it’s a haven for bourbon enthusiasts. The key to understanding Lexington lies in the land that cradles it, a landscape defined by rolling hills, fence-lined horse farms, and abundant rivers and streams. But it’s the magic in the water that truly sets this city apart, as Lexington sits atop a limestone formation that filters and mineralizes natural spring water, imparting a distinctive quality to the bourbon produced here.

With sixteen distilleries in and around the city, Lexington is the perfect destination for those looking to immerse themselves in the bourbon world. Iconic names such as Woodford Reserve, Buffalo Trace, Wild Turkey, and Four Roses are just a stone’s throw away. Not to mention storied properties like Castle & Key Distillery, a restored historic site that boasts 113 acres of manicured gardens and structures dating back to the 1800s.

Lexington is not merely a guardian of tradition but also a pioneer in the bourbon industry’s evolution. Fresh Bourbon, the first Black-owned bourbon distillery, and experimental distilleries like RD1 that use unique wood finishes are injecting new life into this age-old spirit. Lexington’s dedication to bourbon innovation is further evident in the James B. Beam Institute for Kentucky Spirits at the University of Kentucky. This research facility, staffed by industry experts, is a one-of-a-kind hub for all things bourbon, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible.

The creativity surrounding bourbon in Lexington extends beyond the distilleries. Knowledgeable mixologists at stylish bars craft innovative cocktails while local chefs integrate bourbon into their cuisine. Bars like Bourbon on Rye and the newly opened Lost Palm, a rooftop gem at the Manchester, are must-visit spots for those seeking exceptional bourbon experiences.

photo: Courtesy of VisitLEX

Venture just outside downtown, and you’ll discover the Distillery District, a revitalized historic area and a crucial part of Lexington’s bourbon heritage. The recently renovated James E. Pepper Distillery stands as a testament to the city’s commitment to preserving its bourbon legacy. You’ll find a one-stop destination for food, drinks, shopping, and entertainment here. Around 450 picturesque Thoroughbred farms, many housing Kentucky Derby winners, share the same breathtaking bluegrass landscape as the distilleries, making tours a captivating experience.

Beyond bourbon, Lexington’s progressive culture defies expectations. Home to two universities, the city fosters a uniquely creative spirit. Downtown Lexington pulses with vibrancy, featuring restaurants, bars, hotels, and live entertainment. For those looking to explore Lexington, it’s closer than you think, just a day’s drive from two-thirds of the U.S. population and with flights from seventeen cities.

For bourbon enthusiasts, Lexington is a treasure trove. Local retailers and boutique shops often stock rare expressions, providing the perfect opportunity for bourbon hunters to find an elusive bottle. Ready to go on your own bourbon treasure hunt?

Discover all that Lexington has to offer at