They’re Building a Napa Valley for Bourbon in Kentucky
Bourbon is the essence of Kentucky culture, and the Frazier History Museum wants to keep fostering an appreciation for a spirit whose popularity is growing. In 2018, the Frazier added the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Welcome Center in partnership with the Kentucky Distillers’ Association and The Spirit of Kentucky — a permanent interactive exhibition devoted to celebrating bourbon and its evolution. The Welcome Center, located on the first floor, gives tourists and locals the convenience of planning the perfect Kentucky Bourbon Trail tour with guidance from its professional concierge service.
Andy Treinen, vice president with the Frazier History Museum, says they want to be the experts on bourbon tourism and want locals to celebrate a product that originates in Kentucky. The Frazier became the official starting point of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail in 2017. “I think [authenticity] is what makes bourbon so appealing to tourists who now come to the state to learn more about the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. There are people making bourbon in Texas, California, and New York, but it’s our story, it’s authentic to Kentucky. You can’t go back and recreate Jim Beam in West Virginia or any other place. It happened here,” he says.
Although bourbon only controls 10 percent of the world market, Treinen says, it’s becoming a favorite spirit among many because it is no longer considered your grandfather’s drink. “It used to be that if you made a mixed drink it was a really simple thing, but now people want taste, and there are bartenders who are making these really great craft cocktails and introducing bourbon to new audiences through those craft cocktails. It is cool now,” he says.
Andy Treinen points to one of the many vintage bourbon bottles on display as part of The Spirit of Kentucky exhibit. “We are giving people information that wasn’t there before, and there are more people coming to the state every year to experience the Kentucky Bourbon Tour,” he says.
With the addition of the Welcome Center and exhibit, Treinen says the museum is excited to highlight a product that sets Kentucky apart from other states and to be able to provide a benefit to the community on a larger scale. “It is a service that didn’t exist before, and we are excited to be offering it to more and more people every day. Of course, the community benefits when more people travel to the city and stay in hotels and eat at restaurants and visit other attractions. Those are important dollars and tax dollars that are coming into the community,” he says.