LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The Kentucky Bourbon Trail now has an official starting point at the Frazier History Museum in downtown Louisville.
The new Welcome Center was officially unveiled Thursday on the first floor of the museum on West Main Street. A professional concierge service will help visitors plans their trips to bourbon distilleries throughout the state.
“It’s exciting for the industry to see visitors grow,” Maker’s Mark CEO and Chairman of the Kentucky Distillers Association Rob Samuels said. “And what’s been missing is they’ve never had a place to start, until now.”
Admission to the Welcome Center is free. It’s a partnership with the Kentucky Distillers Association that’s been in the works for three years.
“This Welcome Center isn’t just an attraction on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. It’s going to be an essential first step to help visitors understand what they’re about to experience,” Samuels said.
The Kentucky Distillers Association was founded on Whiskey Row in 1880 when distillers decided they could accomplish more by working together than they could alone.
“It’s a rare industry where all the competitors also treat each other as family,” Samuels said. “And that’s why the KDA is so proud to be a part of this.”
“We are a family,” KDA President Eric Gregory said. “We invite people into our homes through the Kentucky Bourbon Trail and the Kentucky Bourbon Trail craft tour experiences. Today I’m proud to say our home has a new front door.”
The Kentucky Bourbon Trail is made up of 14 signature distilleries and 14 craft distilleries - stretching from Owensboro to Maysville. The KDA said the Bourbon Trail attracted more than one million visitors in 2017.
“Bourbon is helping drive our tourism growth. We’re now welcoming 16 million visitors a year to Louisville,” Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said.
Mayor Fischer said in 2011 Louisville had zero distillery experiences. By the end of 2018 the city will have nine. Mayor Fischer said it’s a $150 million investment.
“We’ve truly gone from being in Louisville simply a gateway to bourbon country to really being a hotbed for the complete Urban Bourbon Experience,” spokeswoman for Louisville Tourism Stacey Yates said.
Thursday the Frazier Museum also opened a new exhibit. “The Spirit of Kentucky” explains why the commonwealth is the one true and authentic home of bourbon.
“While this exhibit is a very important anchor that will draw tourism to the community, it definitely fits the Fraizer vision,” Frazier History Museum Chairman of the Board Mac Brown said. “To be a compelling destination that makes the Fraizer a home for Kentucky’s culture, heritage and relationship to the world.”
“The Spirit of Kentucky” is a permanent exhibit that is included with admission to the Frazier Museum. Visitors will learn about Kentucky resources that help make bourbon: water, limestone, soil, grains and wood. A “Bottle Hall” will showcase every brand of bourbon currently produced in Kentucky.
“We’ll tell the story about the culture of bourbon and in the process, we’ll tell the story about the culture of Kentucky,” Brown said.
The Frazier History Museum is open Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. On Sunday, the hours have been listed as Noon to 5 p.m.