Many Americans have added bourbon to the small, and distinguished, list that includes baseball, mom and apple pie. As our claim to fame in the world of spirits, bourbon has seen significant surges in production and consumption in America during the last few years. This has given birth to many craft distilleries and pushed the quality of the older and larger companies to new heights.
Kentucky is considered the birthplace of bourbon. The ingredients and methods used there set the standards through federal regulations for production in the United States. So, it is natural that Kentucky bourbon sets the bar for the rest of the world when it comes to aged whiskey. For those who deem this spirit in the highest regard, Kentucky is the Mecca and, without a doubt, a bucket list destination for bourbon enthusiasts.
Given the ample volume of worldwide bourbon enthusiasts, The Kentucky Bourbon Trail started in 1999 to give a firsthand look at the science and passion of crafting America’s iconic spirit. The trail spans nearly 75 miles from Lexington to Claremont, Ky., and is home to some of the best and most historic distilleries in the country. Since its inception, growth has been steady and, today, bourbon production brings nearly 2.5 million tourists per year to Bourbon County, Ky. Let’s face it, most people embark on these tours to get a sip of the good stuff. Rightfully so.
For those of us who prefer to live a more coastal existence, Republic National Distributing Company has answered our call and is bringing Kentucky to the beach. The Bourbon Trail Craft Tour is in full swing on the Grand Strand and is an “at your leisure” event. It is ongoing and costs only the price of the drinks. There are two local tours of America’s finest hooch happening right now and they are showing off what Kentucky does best.
RNDC has signed on renowned distilleries such as Buffalo Trace, Evan Williams and John F. Fitzgerald’s Larceny from Heaven Hill Distillery, Eagle Rare and Angel’s Envy for this ongoing event. These distilleries are as serious about making whiskey as we are about drinking it. In fact, Angel’s Envy and its master distiller, Lincoln Henderson, were awarded with Best Spirit in the World by F. Paul Pacult’s Spirit Journal this year. Eagle Rare finished in the top 20 of the same survey that outlines the world’s best 120 spirits. Buffalo Trace and its master distiller, Harlan Wheatley, racked up a Double Gold Medal at the San Francisco International Spirits Competition in 2012. Evan Williams, the flagship label for Heaven Hill Distillery, which is the largest independent, family-owned distillery in the country, is launching the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience in Louisville this fall to showcase its time-honored tradition. Heaven Hill is also bringing us John F. Fitzgerald’s Larceny wheat bourbon, which beat out another well known Kentucky favorite according to seriouseats.com in August 2012. There is no denying the quality of selections for the Bourbon Trail Craft Tour in Myrtle Beach.
Aaron Brost, President of Ro-Bro Marketing and Public Relations representing Angel’s Envy, says the brand is “bringing the great tradition of Kentucky bourbon making back to the city.” Revitalizing whiskey row, along with Evan Williams, in Louisville and using the Bourbon Trail Craft Tour to get the word out. As if you need more incentive, they have chosen some of the best bourbon watering holes on the beach to play host.
Given our expansive stretch of beach, there are two incarnations that boast the same top notch hooch to choose from.
The South Myrtle Beach Trail offers stops at Drunken Jack’s Restaurant (4031 U.S. 17 Business, Murrells Inlet), Captain Dave’s Dockside Restaurant (4037 U.S. Business, Murrells Inlet), Graham’s Landing Restaurant & Bar (5225 U.S. 17 Business, Murrells Inlet), Hanhah Banana’s Sunshine Cabana Restaurant, Bar & Grill (1950 Wachesaw Road, Murrells Inlet) and Borgata Bar (813 Surfside Drive, Surfside Beach). Even though you talley less than 15 miles round trip to hit all of the stops, I recommend using a taxi service just in case you find yourself wanting to sample more than one bourbon at any given location. You never know who you are going to run into around here or you might find yourself in the middle of one of our breathtaking sunsets that warrants a toast. An extra glass never hurt anyone who’s not driving.
The Myrtle Beach Trail guides us to Bourbon Street Bar & Grill (5307 N. Kings Highway), Aspen Grille (5101 N. Kings Highway), Wrecking Ball Tavern, Bar & Billiards (702 S.C. 544, Conway) and R&R Bar and Grill (2011 S. Kings Highway). Likewise, this tour is around 20 miles round trip, but err on the side of safety when traveling the trail. Given the amazing food and drink along the way, you want to be prepared for longer than expected stays at any location to get the full indulgence of this event.
Whether you are a seasoned bourbon sipper or just starting out on your “brown water” journey, the Bourbon Trail Craft Tour is not to be missed. Bourbon is as American as, well, you know, and our locals are supporting this old industry in a very new way. For up-to-the-minute updates about the Bourbon Trail Craft Tour, follow Going Out South Carolina on Facebook and Twitter. Cheers!
Contact Kevin Hoover at firstname.lastname@example.org.