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Kentucky bourbon trail adds distillery tour

| Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

LOUISVILLE — The maker of Evan Williams bourbon has uncorked a new attraction, opening a craft distillery just steps from where the whiskey pioneer who inspired the brand fired up his commercial stills two centuries ago.

The distillery and “bourbon experience” — complete with tours and tasting rooms — is the first of several ventures to bolster tourism and bring small-batch bourbon production to the heart of downtown Louisville, once the hub of commerce for Kentucky whiskey makers.

Powerhouse bourbon brands such as Jim Beam, Wild Turkey and Maker's Mark are crafted in rural Kentucky, but the trade is making a comeback in the city. An urban bourbon trail features 27 bars and restaurants, each stocked with at least 50 labels. A planned bourbon district would tie together the city's bourbon heritage with historical markers and landmarks in Whiskey Row, where clusters of whiskey merchants, wholesalers and blenders set up shop decades ago.

“It's the place to be,” said Joe Magliocco, president of Michter's Distillery LLC, which is converting a downtown building into a craft distillery.

Heaven Hill, which makes Evan Williams, is at the forefront with its $10.5 million attraction — The Evan Williams Bourbon Experience.

Tours trace bourbon production from frontier days when whiskey was currency to its contemporary revival in bars and restaurants across the globe. It features a five-story Evan Williams bottle replica and, of course, a gift shop.

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