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Booze, Heritage, and Adventure on The American Whiskey Trail

Did you feel a call to go on your own whiskey adventure after reading our last story about an intrepid Scotch lover's journey across the highlands? Are you an American whiskey fan? If so, we have good news: the American Whiskey Trail takes you on an expedition that includes some of the best and most storied distilleries the U.S. has to offer, and the starting point might not be too far off from your own backyard.

Designed by the Distilled Spirits Council, the American Whiskey Trail is the perfect blend of whiskey and history, taking you on a trip through colonial times all the up through the present day. It explores cultural heritage through the history of distillation, embracing the controversial yet ever-present role that whiskey has played in social and economic events. Noting the function of whiskey in the "fabric of the community," the Trail tackles events such as the Whiskey Rebellion, Prohibition, and more.

George Washington's Distillery at Historic Mount Vernon is the gateway to the trail, but you can begin your adventure at any of the featured distilleries. As you might expect, many of the distilleries are located in Kentucky, Southwestern Pennsylvania, and Western Maryland. Kentucky has the highest concentration of distilleries, and many of the museums and historical sites can be found in Pennsylvania and Maryland. However, two Tennessee distilleries are included, as are the Mount Vernon distillery and Fraunces Tavern in New York City, where George Washington gave a farewell address to his officers.

If you're a particularly savvy whiskey explorer, it is possible to experience the trail in roughly chronological order. To do this, begin the Trail at the Mount Vernon distillery; Washington operated one of the largest distilleries in early America, and this is the only site that still demonstrates his particularly innovative 18th century approach. The next stop, Gadsby's Tavern, is located in nearby Alexandria.

You can then head northwest to Pittsburgh, which is centrally located among a slew of Whiskey Rebellion-era homesteads and a preserved pre-Civil War village. If you're travelling in the summertime, it would be worth it to stop at the Allegany Museum in Cumberland, Maryland, which hosts an annual Whiskey Rebellion festival each June.

Next up are Kentucky and Tennessee, respectively the Bourbon and Tennessee whiskey capitals both now and throughout history. The big players in Kentucky such as Woodford Reserve, Makers Mark, and Wild Turkey are all either in Louisville or less than an hour away. If you head four hours south you'll hit George Dickels and Jack Daniels in Tennessee.

Rounding off the trip is Fraunces Tavern in New York, which still retains its 18th century architecture. Its sister site is a museum of Colonial and Revolution-era history. If you're a completionist, you can also visit plenty of other distilleries along the way, such as Bulleit Frontier Whiskey and two Jim Beam Locations. Other historical sites, such as the Oliver Miller Homestead and the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History, also pop up along the trail.

Each location along the trail has its own unique story to tell, and there's no doubt that they're all worth hearing. If you're a whiskey lover, a history buff, or a combination of the two, the American Whiskey Trail could be your perfect summer adventure.


Adapted from The Whiskey Wash

Map here

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