Whiskey-a-go-go in Louisville

From the March 26, 2001 Issue of New York

Sipping Chardonnay in Napa or Pinot Noir in Sonoma is fine for a while, but for some real drinkin', try a bourbon-tasting tour of Kentucky. Fly to Louisville, rent a car, and grab a sandwich from the Blue Dog Bakery for the scenic drive (through some of the most magnificent horse farms in the Bluegrass State) to the Maker's Mark distillery in Loretto to see how Bill Samuels, a sixth-generation distiller, makes one of the tastiest small-batch bourbons. You'll have to wait for a sip of the stuff -- the distillery doesn't have a liquor license -- but be sure to stick your finger in the fermenting mash for a legal taste and don't pass up the opportunity to dip your own bottle in the signature red wax. If there's time, check out the Labrot & Graham distillery in Versailles, the first official bourbon distillery in Kentucky, built in 1812. Afterward, head to the restored Seelbach Hotel in Louisville, where the bartender presides over one of the world's largest selections of bourbon, including some one-of-a-kind single-barrel whiskeys. Dine on shrimp and grits accompanied by live jazz at Jack Frye's on Bardstown Road in Louisville. A little foggy the next morning? Biscuits and gravy from Lynn's Paradise Cafe are a sure cure.

Blue Dog Bakery, 502-899-9800; Maker's Mark Distillery, 270-865-2099 or; Labrot & Graham Distillery, 859-879-1812; Seelbach Hilton Hotel, 502-585-3200 (rooms start at $129); Jack Frye's, 502-452-9244; Lynn's Paradise Cafe, 502-583-EGGS. Continental, 800-525-0280, flies nonstop from Newark to Louisville. For general information, visit