Skip to content

Frankfort is Kentucky Distilled Bourbon Week in Frankfort, Kentucky: Written by Patti Nickell

It seems a week doesn’t go by that Frankfort isn’t throwing some kind of party, celebration, festival or special event to entice locals and visitors to experience all the Capital city’s downtown offers.

July’s celebration promises to be really special as it celebrates the commonwealth’s gift to the world.  The inaugural Downtown Frankfort Bourbon Week kicks off July 15th and runs through July 20th.

The week will feature a wide range of bourbon tours, bourbon products and naturally, bourbon cocktails.

“We’ve put this event together so that residents and tourists alike can explore the history, charm and flavors of Bourbon Week in our vibrant downtown,” says Suzy Hosley, executive director of Downtown Frankfort, Inc.

There will be plenty to explore.  Who doesn’t love a good tour or exhibit, especially if it involves bourbon? 

As Frankfort’s premier purveyor of bourbon, Buffalo Trace Distillery, the world’s most award-winning distillery, will offer complimentary tours and tastings.

This is your chance to sample such iconic brands as Eagle Rare, Weller and E.H. Taylor, Jr.

Should you want to learn more about E.H. Taylor, Jr., the man, and Frankfort’s rich bourbon history, join bourbon history buff Russ Kennedy on a walking tour of Frankfort’s historic district as he slips into the persona (and fashionable duds) of Col. Taylor himself.  Just look for the man in a top hat tapping a cane.

Not only can you learn the history of bourbon by land, but thanks to the Bourbon Belle Riverboat, also by water. 

Visitors can select from four curated tours. The boat’s flagship Kentucky River Bourbon History Tour combines a look at the river’s importance in the industry (it was a major route in shipping the bourbon to its principle market, New Orleans) with a chance to see river wildlife – from blue herons and bald eagles to river otters and white-tailed deer.

The four-hour Old Taylor Tour offers an opportunity to experience both the river and Buffalo Trace Distillery in one tour.

If you prefer tasting with your touring, opt for the River Tour and Taste or the Bourbon and Boats Tours.

Back on dry land, you will have your choice of several bourbon-related experiences, whether it be a special bourbon exhibit at the Capital City Museum, celebrating the impact of the brands, jobs, people and impact of bourbon on the community, or the Bourbon Blazer Bike Tour.

The Bike Tour takes up to 13 people on a two-hour journey through Frankfort, stopping at select local spots to sample drinks that embody the city’s rich bourbon culture.  Since you won’t be doing the driving, this is your chance to indulge.

In an effort to encourage people to shop local, a number of downtown stores will offer bourbon-themed items for sale.

Poor Richard’s Bookstore has a section on bourbon literature; Completely Kentucky has Kentucky etched bourbon glasses, and you can pick up bar ware to go with them at River/City Provisions.

The Fancy Flamingo and Miss B’s Antiques have bourbon tea towels and candles in stock.  You can even get bourbon apparel at EM+ME Boutique.  Did we tell you Frankfort really likes its bourbon?

One Bourbon Week activity that is sure to be a crowd-pleaser is the selection of “The Frankfort,” destined to become the official bourbon cocktail of the city.  Eleven bars and restaurants have entered the cocktail competition, and each hopes to see its creation emerge the winner.

People are encouraged to taste as many cocktails as possible (responsibly, of course).  Pick up a passport at any participating establishment, and once you have three stamps, you are eligible to win a prize.

Then assist a panel of judges in determining a winner by using a QR code to vote for your favorite.  The winning cocktail will make its official debut at this year’s Bourbon on the Banks event in October.

Those establishments hoping to see their cocktail creation be named as “The Frankfort” are:

  • POURter’s (bourbon, honey, cherry and rosemary) – “ evoking a Hallmark Christmas and candlelight.”
  • Stainless Brewing (bourbon, watermelon, lemon, hops) – “perfect for porch swings on a summer’s eve.”
  • Serafini (bourbon with mixed fruits ) – “bringing to mind St. Clair nights and old friends.”
  • Howser Tavern (bourbon and blackberries) – “reminding us of Grandma’s house and waving to neighbors.”
  • Brown Barrel (bourbon, raspberry and lemonade) – “a paean to downtown strolls and summer concerts.”
  • Mortimer Bibbs (bourbon, pineapple, almond and citrus) – “a nod to string-lit patios and friends.”
  • House of Commons (bourbon, citrus, oak)- “think sunsets over downtown on peaceful evenings.”
  • Capital Cellars (bourbon, nectarine, elderflower, oak, black walnut) – “perfectly represents the charms of Broadway.”
  • Blanton’s Landing (bourbon, blackberry honey, Ale-8 Cream, Chocolate Zest) – “symbolizes the rich heritage of Frankfort.”
  • The Cooperage (bourbon, blackberries, iced tea) – “imagine suntans and floating on the river.”
  • Goodwood (bourbon, fresh strawberries, homemade pie) – “think of childhood and first sips of bourbon with Dad.”

And “The Frankfort” is?……….you decide.

Downtown Frankfort Bourbon Week wraps up on July 20th with Bourbon on St. Clair Live, a street party featuring music by the Americana and Alt Country Downtown County Band, bourbon tastings and the official proclamation ceremony introducing “The Frankfort” signature cocktail.

In summing up the significance of Bourbon Week, Hosley says, “Bourbon has a rich heritage in Frankfort, and we want to celebrate that. Frankfort is KY Distilled.”