2012 Bourbon & Banter Pilgrimage

What: 2012 Bourbon & Banter Pilgrimage (a.k.a. The First Annual Bourbon & Banter Pilgrimage)
When: October 12-14, 2012
Where: Louisville, Kentucky.
Our home for the trip will be the centrally located Louisville Hyatt Hotel



Do we really need to answer this for you? To experience all that bourbon country has to offer. This includes distillery tours, dining at historic venues, lots of bourbon drinking, a few surprises involving bourbon legends and meeting new friends. (And did we mention bourbon drinking?)
Cost: Registration is closed for the 2012 trip.


2012 Pilgrimage Itinerary (as of Friday, April 6, 2012)

Travel/Arrival Day – Thursday, October 11, 2012
The official tour starts early Friday morning so we recommend out of town guests arrive at the hotel in advance on Thursday.  The Hyatt Regency Louisville is extending a discounted rate for our group. Registered attendees will be sent a link to book their room at the discounted rate subject to room availability. (Lodging fees are not included in the cost of the tour.)

Update 9/30/12: The Hyatt Regency Louisville is sold out and we no longer have discounted rooms available. Please confirm availability at a nearby hotel if you need a room prior to purchasing your Bourbon & Banter Pilgrimage tour ticket.

Updated!!! – Due to popular demand we’ve added an extra distillery tour to the Pilgrimage Itinerary. For those of you who can arrive early on Thursday we’ll be heading out for an optional tour of Buffalo Trace Distillery. (Note: Tour beings promptly at the distillery at 2 pm until 4 pm. There will be no tour shuttle for this distillery visit. Contact Bourbon & Banter to see if you can hitch a ride with other tour members if needed.)

Buffalo Trace BottleWe’re thrilled to add Buffalo Trace Distillery – home of iconic brands like Blanton’s, Elmer T. Lee and Pappy Van Winkle to our itinerary. At the distillery our group will receive a Hard Hat Tour that will take us behind the scenes of the bourbon making process. We’ll see grain delivery, cookers, fermentation tanks, three column stills and much more. Immediately following our tour we will be treated to a tasting of select Buffalo Trace bourbons. And we may even have a chance to meet master distiller Harlen Wheatley as well.  There will also be time for you to visit the Buffalo Trace gift store if you’re looking to add a few more souvenirs to your collection.

For those arriving later in the day on Thursday, we will be holding an informal gathering in the hotel bar in the evening.  This will allow many of us to meet each other for the first time and share a drink.

Day One – Friday, October 12, 2012
Day One of the Bourbon Pilgrimage begins at Four Roses Distillery.  We’ll kick things off in style with a private tour of the distillery and a very special bourbon tasting.  We’re super excited to announce that Four Roses Master Distiller, Jim Rutledge, will be our personal guide for the tour and tasting. We can’t tell you yet what Jim has planned for our tasting but I can tell you that you don’t want to miss this opportunity to learn from “Mr. Four Roses” himself.

Four Roses Distillery

Next we’ll head over to the historic Holly Hill Inn for a relaxing lunch. Holly Hill Inn was built circa 1845 and will provide our group with the perfect backdrop to enjoy lunch, learn a little bit about the Inn’s history and maybe even try a few unique bourbons.

Wild Turkey's Jimmy Russell

Wild Turkey is the second and final distillery tour of the day. Our personal private tour guide will be none other than Wild Turkey’s Master Distiller, Jimmy Russell. Jimmy is a living bourbon legend. He joined Wild Turkey in 1954 and is the driving force that keeps the tradition alive at Wild Turkey. He is also a director of the Kentucky Distillers Association. Jimmy will also be leading our bourbon tasting following the tour. This is sure to be one of the highlights of our trip.

From Wild Turkey, we’ll head back into Louisville for a brief rest at the hotel before meeting back up for an amazing dinner at Bourbon Bistro. (Mint Julep Tours will once again provide us transportation to/from dinner.)

Bourbons Bistro is an original member of the Urban Bourbon Trail and is the recipient of numerous awards. Most recently they were awarded the Gold Medal for Whisky Magazine’s “Whisky Bars of the World”. We will enjoy a three-course bourbon-inspired dinner along with a special bourbon tasting put together by our friends at Buffalo Trace.  And if you need more bourbon you can always choose from their menu of over 130 bourbons. It’s a dining experience not to be missed. And did we mention that there will be a special guest to lead our tasting and give us the secrets behind what makes Buffalo Trace bourbons so special? That’s right. We’ll be joined by Chris Fletcher, Lead Chemist at Buffalo Trace. I guess you can call him a Bourbon Scientist.

Still thirsty for more?

Following dinner, we will head out to one of Louisville’s bourbon establishments to continue the banter and enjoy a few more glasses of bourbon. This is optional and open to the public excursion. You never know who might show up from the extended Bourbon & Banter community. As they say, “When in bourbon country…”


Day Two – Saturday, October 13, 2012

Jim Beam American Stillhouse

Saturday brings two more distillery tours for the group to experience.

We’ll start the day off with a visit to the legendary Jim Beam Distillery located in Sheperdsville. Beam’s brand new multi-million dollar visitor center is having its Grand Opening on October 3rd so we’ll be some of the first people to experience a whole new tour experience at Jim Beam. For the first time ever we’ll get to view the internal operations of the distillery and leave with a whole new appreciation of what it takes to create the world’s best selling bourbon.

Following our tour at the Jim Beam Distillery we’ll head over to The Old Talbott’s Tavern for lunch. A fixture in Bardstown since the late 1700’s, it’s a destination not to be missed. (It’s said to be, “the oldest Western stagecoach stop in America”.)

Willett Distillery

After lunch we’ll make our way to recently restored Willett Distillery, home of  Kentucky Bourbon Distillers – the operation behind Noah’s Mill, Rowan’s Creek, Johnny Drum and of course, Willett bourbon. At KBD we’ll receive a tour and tasting led by a member of the Kuslveen family, the folks responsible for bringing back distilling to the facility. Definitely an opportunity not to be missed.

Maker's Mark DistilleryNext we’ll make our way to Maker’s Mark – the final distillery tour of our trip. At Maker’s Mark will be given a private VIP tour and tasting led by Rob Samuels. Named after Robert Samuels Jr., who brought his family to Kentucky in 1784, Rob is the eighth generation of the family to produce bourbon, the longest lineage of any family within the distilled spirits category. He is also Maker’s Mark’s current COO, responsible for business, financial and marketing goals. It’s a true privilege to have Rob lead our group.

From Maker’s Mark we will head back into Louisville for some much-needed rest before heading back out for our final group dinner.

Maker's Mark Lounge Chef's Table

Saturday night’s dinner will be a private affair at the famous Maker’s Mark Bourbon House and Lounge. A well-known stop on the Urban Bourbon Trail, it’s the perfect venue for our last evening together as a group.

Bernie LubbersOur dining experience will begin with a bourbon tasting led by Bernie Lubbers, the Whiskey Professor. Bernie is a global brand ambassador for Jim Beam and the author of Bourbon Whiskey *Our Native Spirit*.  It will be a great opportunity to learn more about your favorite bourbons and ask an industry leader your most pressing bourbon-related questions.  Each tour member will also receive a personally autographed copy of Bernie’s book.

And for those who still haven’t had enough…

After dinner, we’ll once again head out to a local bourbon establishment to enjoy our final opportunity to share bourbon and banter. This will once again be an optional and open activity. But we hope that everyone will be able to join the group for our last chance to experience the bourbon scene in Louisville on our trip.

Day Three – Sunday, October 14, 2012
For many Sunday is a day of rest. For members of the 2012 Bourbon & Banter Pilgrimage, it’s a day of rest, recovery, reflection and return travel.

For those who are interested, we’ll arrange for a group brunch at a local establishment.  Don’t worry. It’s the one day you won’t have to get up early and board a bus to go drink bourbon.

Our final meal together will be a relaxing affair allowing each of us to reflect on our time together and hopefully solidify new friendships. After lunch, we’ll bid each other farewell and make our separate ways back home.

While I can’t speak for others I know my return trip will definitely include a stop at a Kentucky liquor store so I can experience what a “real” bourbon selection looks like.


 Additional Information
Space is limited to 12 attendees. To confirm your spot on the tour we must receive your completed online registration and complete payment of the tour fees. The trip cost of $699 does not include travel to/from Louisville or lodging. Bourbon & Banter has negotiated discounted room rates starting at $139 per night at the Hyatt Louisville subject to availability. You will receive a link to book your hotel at a discounted rate once we have received and processed your trip registration and payment. The trip cost does include the following:

  • All private distillery tours with the opportunity to sample bourbon from each distillery
  • Souvenirs from select distilleries
  • Lunch on Friday and Saturday. (does not include alcoholic beverages at lunch)
  • Dinner on Friday and Saturday. (includes bourbon tasting only; additional alcohol drinks are not included)
  • Tour Bus transportation between the hotel and the distilleries on both days and to dinner on Friday night. We’ve partnered with Mint Julep Tours for our bus transportation needs.
  • All dining related gratuities
  • VIP tour attendee gift pak – Include a 2012 Bourbon & Banter Pilgrimage t-shirt and other bourbon-related items
 Items Not Included
Airfare, lodging, personal alcohol tastings and purchases in addition to those provided, and breakfasts for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Post-dinner gatherings are optional and any costs incurred are the sole responsibility of each tour member.
 Pilgrimage Terms & Conditions
 Please use this link to review our complete terms and conditions.
 Questions & More Information
If you would like more information or have any questions, please email us or call us at (314) 669-1792.

If you are unable to join us for this tour but want to be notified of future tours please join our mailing list by sending us an email via our contact form.

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