Bourbon Cruise: For the Love of Bourbon

River Views®, a River Cruise Blog

jim bean distillery as seen on our bourbon river cruises
The bourbon river cruise aboard the iconic American Queen blends unique regional enrichment with the slow pace of steamboat river cruising to create a heavenly week of R&R.

Learn what makes a centuries-old tradition as uniquely American as our river cruises with this rare opportunity to experience an extraordinary journey through America’s Heartland and into the roots of Kentucky’s bourbon region. Traveling from Memphis, Tennessee, to Louisville, Kentucky, this special themed voyage will take you behind the scenes and into the history books to show you where bourbon comes from, how it is made and the ways to distinguish the unique characteristics of different distilleries.

Guests have the opportunity to tour some of the finest distilleries on this bourbon river cruise at no additional charge. Some ports provide a special event tour, while others offer guests a choice to select the one that piques their interest. For example:

Brandenburg, Kentucky Bourbon Distillery Tours

Jim Beam - Tour the Jim Beam Distillery at the Jim Beam American Stillhouse, where they believe secrets are for strangers and treat all of their guests like family. Get a look at how their bourbon is made with a guided tour that walks guests through the entire process from their natural limestone water well through the mashing, distilling, barreling, storing and bottling. Then, join Troy Beam in the tasting room for a sample of this iconic American spirit.

Willett Distillery - On the outskirts of lovely, picturesque Bardstown, Kentucky, sits the historic Willett Distillery in the heart of what’s been dubbed the “Bourbon Capital of the World.” This independent, family-owned small-batch distillery has been in operation at its current location since 1936, but its roots go back just after the US Civil War. Our tour will bring us through the main distillery building, cistern room, aging warehouses, and grounds. Sip on samplings of the fine product before concluding in the gift shop!

Madison, Indiana Bourbon Distillery Tours

Buffalo Trace - At this world renowned distillery, fine bourbon whiskey has been developed to perfection for over 200 years. Dedicated to the craft of producing high-quality bourbon, Buffalo Trace has earned its place of leadership among the legendary spirits makers of the world. Enjoy a guided tour of this historic Distillery including an informative video, ageing warehouses and the renowned Blanton’s Bottling Hall to see the bottles of Bourbon being filled, sealed, labeled and packages – all by hand!

Uncover the rich history of this Kentucky bourbon staple as you sip on their finest spirits, bringing this experience to another level. Appreciate the warm, smooth tastes of premium bourbon made as it should be. After our time in the tasting room comes to an end, our journey will conclude in the gift shop, where you can pick out a memento to remember your visit to the famous Buffalo Trace Distillery.

Louisville, Kentucky Bourbon Distillery Tours

Wild Turkey - The Wild Turkey Distillery was founded in 1869 and found its name almost a century later when it was taken on a Wild Turkey hunting trip and the name was born. Enjoy a guided tour of the production facility including the distillery, cistern room, bottling and packaging center and warehouse. At the conclusion of the tour, enjoy a tasting of the spirit and bring a complimentary tasting glass or purchase a bottle of Wild Turkey to bring home with you as a reminder of your visit.

Willett Distillery and Jim Beam are also offered from this port of call. You know what that means; don’t you? That means that you can choose one in Brandenburg and then take the other from Louisville. It doesn’t get much better than that folks!

Not only have we arranged for special tastings, treats, and cooking demonstrations, but also we are thrilled to announce an exclusive line-up of special onboard guests. Bill Samuels Jr., son of Maker’s Mark founder, Bill Samuels Sr., will lead a Maker’s Mark presentation and tasting. Also joining Bill Samuels will be Don Flinn of Buffalo Trace whose presentations and tastings have received rave reviews on our past Bourbon river cruises. Michael Veach, a bourbon historian and member of the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame, brings an unbiased opinion to any bourbon conversation and will offer tastings of some of the world’s most famous and unique bourbons. Both onboard and ashore, each day presents an eclectic blend of music, creative workshops and a wealth of enrichment that can’t be found anywhere else. This dynamic blend of historic discovery, toe-tapping entertainment and complimentary tours of the finest bourbon distilleries creates a uniquely American river cruise that you simply cannot afford to miss!