Welcome to Kentucky — home to whiskey-filled barrels, historically preserved distilleries and the most enthusiastic Bourbon-lovers you’ll ever meet. If you also love Bourbon, then you’ve come to the right place. There’s no shortage of this “liquid gold” around here. In fact, they say there are more Bourbon barrels in Kentucky than there are people, which is the perfect excuse for Kentuckians to drink Bourbon anytime. And because we do, we consider ourselves experts too. So, when you’re ready to experience Bourbon Country, let the Red Penguins be your guide.
Bourbon at 21c
You don’t have to go far to drink well around here. Especially when you stay at 21c. Our restaurant Proof on Main is a great place to start your adventure; featuring an expansive selection of over 250+ of Kentucky’s finest Bourbons, you almost don’t have to leave the building to experience the best Bourbon country has to offer… but we love our city and there is so much rich Bourbon heritage to experience so we highly recommend that you do.
Order your drink straight up, on the rocks or give our award winning cocktails a try! From Kentucky-classics like the Mint Julep to a Proof fan-favorite like No Spectators (bourbon meets grapefruit rosemary, lemon and a scotch spritz — yeah, it’s seriously good), you’re guaranteed to be in good hands with our expert beverage team, led by Greg Galganski.
While you’re at the bar, be sure to ask about our 21c Private Single Barrel Selects program. Made possible by our spirits experts from Proof on Main and our sister restaurant Lockbox at 21c Lexington, our 21c Selects program features exclusive, hand-picked barrels from some of our favorite distilleries in Kentucky and throughout the region. Order a flight at the bar and learn about the selection process from our bartenders – chances are, they helped pick the select you are drinking! Or take a bottle home from our gift shop.
Staying the night? Upgrade your stay with our Derby City Bourbon package, which includes a one-night stay at 21c Louisville, a 21c Selects flight in Proof on Main, 21c Rocks Glass set for keepsake and valet parking.
Bourbon tours that are well worth the visit, within walking distance.
Step outside and quickly stumble upon a handful of distilleries in the heart of downtown Louisville. Find small-batch whiskeys of the highest quality across the street at Michter’s Fort Nelson Distillery. Experience the rich history of Bourbon at Evan Williams and Kentucky Peerless. Walk a little further down Main Street to historic Whiskey Row where you’ll find Old Forester, also known as “the first bottled bourbon.” Perfectly crafted bourbon meets ruby port cask finishes at Angel’s Envy. Visit “the architectural icon of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail” at Rabbit Hole Distillery. Pro-tip: you can’t leave NuLu without grabbing a bite to eat — Mayan Cafe, bar Vetti and Decca are a few of our favorites! Afterwards, take a (brief) break from Bourbon and visit the Brandy experts at Copper & Kings.
Explore the Countryside
Venture a little further. Trust us, you won’t be disappointed in these historic Bourbon tours.
Stroll the Sunken Gardens, Botanical Trail and Boiler Room at Castle & Key, named #1 Best Distillery in the U.S. Tour the historic barns and give your taste buds the treat of flavors and discovery at Woodford Reserve. Spot some of the largest Bourbon-filled Rickhouses you’ve ever seen, sitting on top of rolling Kentucky Bluegrass hills, at Wild Turkey and Buffalo Trace.
While you’re out there, be sure to visit our flock at 21c Lexington! Or check out one of the newer distilleries in Kentucky, New Riff Distilling, and say hello to our Yellow Penguin flock at 21c Cincinnati while you’re at it.
Not ready to leave? We get it… there’s a reason why we call this place home. Lucky for you, there’s plenty more of Bourbon country to see. Stay a little longer and explore it all by visiting the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. The official starting point of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail is conveniently located 2 blocks away from 21c at the Frazier History Museum!
As if you needed another excuse to travel for Bourbon… keep a lookout for events like our Fork & Bottle dinner series featuring guest distillers and spirits from throughout the region, and our annual Hog & Barrel dinner featuring Pappy Van Winkle. Sign up for our mailing list here.
Featured photo by Crystal Ludwick Photo