Disclosure: My meals, tours and accommodations were provided for the purpose of writing this article. All opinions are my own and are honest.
It’s time for a getaway. Take your best friend, take your mother, take your sister, take your husband. It doesn’t really matter who you take with you, you’re going to have a great time. I just returned from a tour with a 12 ladies who started out as strangers and are now my friends. I didn’t take anyone and I had a wonderful time! I’m going to show you where to stay, where to play and where to eat. Also, if you want to take the work out of it, you can join a tour like I did.
Women and bourbon, that’s what makes a Moonshine Mama.
How to Get Around
Moonshine Mamas don’t drive, they are driven, chauffeured if you will. You can’t trust just anyone so I recommend Central Kentucky Tours. Bruce and his team are authorized and certified to bring visitors to stops along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. They’ve auditioned and really learned their stuff when it comes to each distillery and the history of bourbon. Bruce’s expertise doesn’t stop with bourbon — he’s knowledgeable about the derby, horses, wine and anything else that Kentucky is famous for. Arrange your group transportation today, or jump on one of his tours. I recommend the Barrel to Bottle Tour, that’s the one I was a part of and it was great!
Where to Stay
There’s a certain level of history and culture that a true Moonshine Mama must experience to really feel immersed in the Kentucky experience. Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill really filled the sociological part of my brain for the weekend. I wasn’t familiar with the Shaker way of life before staying in their former town. I knew they made furniture. That is all. This former village turned hotel is a beautiful setting for walks, nature exploring and mint juleps in the garden. The culinary offerings, history lessons and activities on site make this a place you could really stay all weekend and feel rested and refreshed.
Shaker Village honey bees make the honey that’s in the honey butter served at breakfast. Shaker Village farm animals create the manure that fertilizes the garden that grows some of the food that’s served in the restaurant. Take a walk and enjoy the native prairie grasses, take a ride on the river boat, go on a guided tour or explore on your own.
We have the Shakers to thank for the modern day broom. It was their idea to make it actually function to sweep dirt out of the way, not just move it around with a bundle of straw. You can make a Shaker broom during your stay. There are many activities on site, including a day camp for kids in the summer.
Where to Play
Where you choose to play will depend on the purpose of your trip. A Moonshine Mama is there to learn all about bourbon. She may be a beginner, or she may already know she loves bourbon. Either way, a Moonshine Mama tries everything from barrel to bottle.
Independent Stave/Kentucky Cooperage
This is where it all starts. The Kentucky Cooperage is where the wood is brought to season in the yard and then cut so that a barrel can be built. The barrel making process is pretty fascinating and the best part is when they char the barrel. Each distillery has their own specific way that their barrel is made — from how long the wood is seasoned in the sun and snow, to how often it’s turned over and shifted, to how much the barrel is burned in the charing process. Get your tickets pretty far in advance, this tour fills up quickly.
Limestone Branch Distillery
Am I allowed to have a favorite place? Okay, this is my favorite place in all of Kentucky. You’ll enjoy the tour and learning about the Beam family and how their distillery came to be. But mostly, you’ll enjoy their Sugar Shine line of moonshine with the vintage labels. During the tasting, try everything you can, it’s all amazing. I bought several flavors of Sugar Shine including Apple Cinnamon and then I didn’t buy enough of the jars of MoonPie Moonshine in vanilla and chocolate. Check out these recipes and then you’ll understand.
The trademark red wax seal on the lid of Maker’s Mark is known around the world. A tour at Maker’s Mark will give you a chance to see, hear, smell, feel and taste the whole process of distilling bourbon. Moonshine Mamas do it all! See the process from start to finish and you’ll walk away with a great understanding of what goes into that glass bottle — the hard work, the history, the time… Make sure you grab one of those bourbon chocolates on your way out, and dip your own bottle too.
Wilderness Trail Distillery
There’s a lot of science to distilling alcohol and at Wilderness Trail Distillery they embrace and share the process. On the tour, Moonshine Mamas will learn more than just science, they’ll grab on to some culture and new phrases when they experience a “Kentucky Hug” or “Kentucky Communion”.
Where to Eat
A true Moonshine Mama tries new things, like a hot salad, a Moscow Mule, bourbon in her food and food grown right outside the restaurant. Here are the places I enjoyed eating on my trip.
The Trustees’ Table
This Shaker Village restaurant is a treat for everyone, from the foodie to the weekend diner, everyone will find something to eat and love on this menu. Farm to table is a way of life at Shaker Village and every bite will leave your tastebuds screaming with joy.
The Rickhouse in Bardstown
Romaine lettuce grilled and dressed with parmesan cheese, bacon, croutons and caesar dressing. This unique Grilled Caesar Salad packed powerful flavors that I keep thinking about.
Bourbon is on the menu at the Rickhouse Restaurant. You’ll find it in the salmon, the chicken, the brownie dessert, the bread pudding and several other dishes.
After your meal, explore Bardstown. You’ll find many attractions, bourbon related and non-bourbon related, including the My Old Kentucky Home State Park.
The Old Talbott Tavern
Southern food, yummy food and a beautiful place to hang out. Moonshine Mamas will find sustenance at the Bourbon Bar, live music on weekends and good food. This was my first time eating fried green tomatoes. The Kentucky Hot Brown is a favorite dish for many; smoked Turkey and sugar cured ham on toast points smothered in Mornay sauce and melted cheddar cheese, topped with bacon and tomato. You’ll find bourbon in your meatballs and bourbon on your pork.