Visitors headed home from the Kentucky Bourbon Trail now have a reason to get to the airport early. Both Louisville International Airport and Lexington’s Blue Grass Airport are opening new bourbon-centric venues to allow travelers to enjoy one last taste of the good stuff before boarding their planes.
At Louisville’s airport, Book & Bourbon Southern Kitchen recently opened, taking the place of a restaurant that focused on the Woodford Reserve brand. The new bar and restaurant features a wide array of Kentucky-made whiskeys. It’s designed to have the look and feel of a library, from leather-bound books on display to “library cards,” featuring classic cocktail recipes, which guests can take with them. In keeping with that theme, Book & Bourbon also aims to provide education about whiskey and distilling. Guests can peruse books about bourbon and Kentucky history, as well as explore different bourbons on iPads. The restaurant’s servers are trained to answer questions about bourbon production, history, and tasting notes.
Book & Bourbon has over 85 bourbons, ryes, and American whiskeys, in addition to other spirits, beer, and wine. Guests can choose from a number of whiskey flights which start at $10 and go up to $101 for a selection of rare and allocated bourbons, like George T. Stagg, Angel’s Envy Cask Strength, and Pappy Van Winkle. The venue also has an extensive cocktail menu that ranges from classics like the Mint Julep and the Old Fashioned to signature concoctions such as the Peaches & Beam, which features Jim Beam bourbon, peaches, basil, and apple juice. Book & Bourbon’s food menu focuses on Southern classics like buttermilk fried chicken, deviled eggs, and pecan pie.
Meanwhile, Blue Grass Airport is set to open a location of Cork & Barrel Wine & Bourbon Bar in the spring, most likely in April. The post-security venue will focus on retail, allowing customers to buy a bottle or two of whiskey to take home in their carry-on bags, and will also be able to offer samples. “The whole concept of our retail space is to help educate our customers on both Kentucky distilleries and the process of making bourbon,” says owner Jim Taylor. The store will offer around 200 bourbons and whiskeys from Kentucky and other states, including special barrel picks that are exclusive to Cork & Barrel—and some that are available at the airport location only.
“Our barrel picks will be our spotlight,” explains Taylor, who says he’s already selected an 8 year old Buffalo Trace and two Woodford Reserve barrels. “Our choices were complete brackets of the regular Woodford product. One shows very fruit and floral notes while the other has a more dark, cinnamon, and toasty profile. These are great examples of why barrel picks are so appreciated by the bourbon drink who wants to taste ‘outside the lines’ of a regular release.” Cork & Barrel will have selections from Jefferson’s, Knob Creek, Old Forester, and six to eight additional distilleries by the time the store opens. It will also sell bourbon-related paraphernalia and food items, wine, and craft beer products.
Interestingly, the store’s exterior will feature a barrel rick made of timbers from the Old Crow Distillery outside of Frankfort, Kentucky. That facility was bought in 2013 by Deviant Distillers—now Glenns Creek Distillery. The company uses a microdistillery set-up to produce OCD #5 bourbon and a rum, and it also bottles rye and bourbon made at MGP in Indiana. The timbers likely came from the break-up of old rickhouses at the distillery prior to the 2013 sale. If you happen to pass through Blue Grass Airport once the store is open, take a look and let us know what you think!