The American Whiskey Trail
BY Corey Scholibo
May 24 2010 6:45 PM ET
Kentucky is also the home of Jim Beam, by far the largest distributor of whiskey. Though it has a number of great brands to sample, unfortunately it is in the process of upgrading its visitors' center, and right now it is just a gift shop sitting so close to the sewage treatment plant that the whole place smells terrible. This would be a destination for the true connoisseur who was willing to brave all for the chance to sample.
In Kentucky, I recommend staying in Louisville and driving out to the distilleries by day. Louisville was the trip's biggest surprise, actually, particularly the 21C Museum Hotel (700 W. Main St., 502-217-6300) which is a must-visit. Entering the lobby to check in, I was greeted by an enormous painting by Kehinde Wiley, the gayest thing I had seen on my journey so far. Nestled in Louisville's thriving arts district, 21C is as much museum as hotel, and its 9,000 square feet of exhibition space, featuring a permanent collection as well as ever-changing installations, is open to the public 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The hotel is also a part of the Urban Bourbon Trail, which involves nine establishments around the city. Just go to a participating location and ask for a “passport” and you can do your own sampling tour of the local brands in an urban pub crawl.
The American Whiskey Trail is definitely a commitment and for the true whiskey lover, but you will find friendly people and a welcoming atmosphere as you sample some of the best whiskey in the world. I ended the trip with a whole new attitude about the South and my preconceptions. While I don't think things are 100% there yet when it comes to politics and the gay community, it is not as bad as I thought either. Besides, after a few whiskey sours, everyone is your friend.