Explore the USA and enjoy a tasting adventure with America’s native spirit, the unique and distinctive bourbon whiskey. Tantalize your palate with sightseeing, culture and mouthwatering food as well as bourbon discovery.
America is famous for a lot of things. From Hollywood and baseball to beer and barbecue food, there are many reasons to travel here. When it comes to wine and spirits, it’s certainly a destination not to be missed. The Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley are two areas renowned for their prolific wine production and quality. And the Deep South is where the finest bourbon whiskey is made.
Bourbon can only be made in the USA, making it an all-American product and the country’s proudest export. With high manufacturing standards and a stringent production process, not all whiskey can be classified as bourbon. The history of bourbon dates as far back as the 18th Century, but it wasn’t until 1964 that the legal resolution was passed by Congress and the industry became heavily regulated. Today, the strictest regulations are in place, ensuring perfection with every single sip.
Whether you enjoy your bourbon in a cocktail, neat or on the rocks, you’ll be able to appreciate the labour of love that has gone into making it, as well as its distinct flavour profile from being barrel-aged and distilled.
Our exciting tours will journey you across some of the most exclusive parts of the Whiskey Trail and areas that are famed for their food and country music. There are historic distilleries date back centuries and there’s a great mix of artisans and craft spirit makers, ranging from premium bourbon and whiskey to gin and vodka.
Your options are endless when it comes to travelling to the US. From the glamour of LA and Hollywood, the 24-hour entertainment of Vegas, and the spectacular Californian coastline to the unique culture in the Deep South, there are so many places to explore.
For culinary connoisseurs who are always looking for the next big food trend, we highly recommend San Francisco. From there, you can travel north to the famous Napa Valley where fine dining and wine tastings go hand in hand. You can also travel east to Yosemite, or take the 101 to Sonoma for a more laidback wine and gastronomy experience.
For whiskey and bourbon whiskey, there’s nowhere better than Kentucky or Tennessee. Both states offer excellent tours and tasting opportunities. While bourbon can be made anywhere in the USA, 95% of its production happens in the South.
As a nation, America is vast and there’s no bad time to visit. The climatic zones vary greatly, but generally, you can expect a continental climate with cold winters and hot summers. Areas like Kentucky and Tennessee are typically mild and moderate, with four distinct seasons.
If you are interested in the Whiskey Trail, the summer proves to be popular with a lot of travellers. This can be a very busy period though, being very hot and crowded. Local distilleries also choose the summer months to take a break, normally for two weeks or longer. So be sure to check before you travel. You can still tour the distilleries during this time though – you just won’t get to witness the exciting fermentation and distilling process.
To get the most out of distillery tours, we recommend travelling in spring or fall. The weather will be pleasant, and for popular destinations such as Nashville, there will be fewer crowds.
For wine tours in Napa Valley or Sonoma Valley, travel from August through October (peak harvest season) or March through May.
Our bourbon tours are much more than just tasting the best food and drink the USA has to offer. They provide a fully immersive cultural experience, with history, sightseeing and meetings with master distillers for the most discerning drinkers. Bourbon whiskey is like no other whiskey in the world, with a distinct flavour profile that makes it so special.
Bourbon can only be made in the USA any whiskey made outside of the United States cannot be a bourbon. To be a bourbon, the spirit must be made from mashed up grains that contain at least 51% corn and then aged in new, charred oak containers. These oak containers give the bourbon its unique taste, which is sweet and also slightly smoky. The higher the corn percentage, the sweeter the bourbon will taste, and compared to other whiskey, there may be other detectable notes such as vanilla, toffee or even cinnamon.
Like normal whiskey, the taste of bourbon improves with age. More time spent in the barrel means complex flavours that please the palate, but too much ageing can make it challenging on the palate. Expert distillers strike a balance to get their bourbon to the perfect, drinkable maturity.
Here at Wine Paths, we know our bourbon inside out and our tours show off the knowledge and passion we have for it. They combine the best sightseeing opportunities, cultural insight and background on the bourbon so you have an experience you’ll never forget. Read on to discover the kind of tours we can take you on to experience bourbon in the USA.
What makes American bourbon so expensive?
One of the main reasons why bourbon is so expensive is due to the strict production process. To be a bourbon under US Congress rules, the spirit has to be aged in a new oak barrel each time. The same barrel cannot be used again and has to be sold on to distilleries for spirits that are allowed to be aged in used barrels.
Can I find bourbon in other parts of America?
Bourbon is one of the most popular spirits in the USA, not just in the Deep South. There are many excellent bourbon distillers outside of Kentucky and Tennessee, including Dry Fly in Washington, Few Spirits in Illinois, and Kings County in New York.
What other spirits can I try on a bourbon tour?
Our bourbon tours will take you to the most exclusive distilleries along the Whiskey Trail. Many of these distilleries also specialize in vodka and gin, so there will be plenty of opportunities to diversify your palate if you are interested in trying other spirits.