Spirited away: on the bourbon trail in Kentucky

In cities from Lexington to Louisville, previously abandoned distilleries are getting a fresh taste of success in the birthplace of bourbon

When I met Mark and Donnie at a roadside cafe in Kentucky, they were sporting bike leathers, tattoos and badges that hinted at involvement in military campaigns. Normally, I’d find a pair of grizzled guys riding Harleys pretty intimidating but these ones had Minnesotan accents. “Oh my gorrrrd, you’re driving down I-64?” asked Mike, in an unexpectedly high register. “You’ve gotta gooor drink whiskey!”

The pair were in the middle of a three-week ride to Gettysburg and they had already blazed through several of Kentucky’s best-known distilleries – Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, Wild Turkey – on their path east. “We only put 100 miles on yesterday, because we had so many places to stop,” grinned Donnie. “Our saddlebags are full already.”

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