Travel | February 7, 2022 8:00 am

Five Great Booze Trails That Go Beyond Kentucky

As you plan your upcoming travels, consider these spirited excursions

Oak barrels on carriage Maker's Mark Distillery Loretto Kentucky USA.
Maker's Mark is part of the American Whiskey Trail, which includes but also goes beyond Kentucky's confines
Andrew Woodley/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Buried within the recent (and thankfully positive) annual economic briefing by the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) was a rather surprising fact: America is chock full of boozy trails to explore, and all of those are a boon to the survival of smaller distilleries, which rely heavily on tasting room sales.

“There are now more than 30 spirits trails across the United States,” as Philip McDaniel, CEO and co-founder of St. Augustine Distillery and chair of the DISCUS Craft Advisory Council, noted. “This growth in spirits tourism not only benefits distilleries, it also helps transform surrounding communities, and boosts state and local economies.”

So there’s more to exploring spirits than just the Kentucky Bourbon Trail (which we love, but seems to get all the press). Below, we highlight five trails from around the country — h/t to Distillery Trail for putting a lot of this information in one place — that’ll help you discover craft distilleries and delicious spirits. Admittedly, because of COVID-19, you’ll want to check in and see what’s available before making any plans.

Note that many of these are simply suggested stops within a geographic area, while a few trails offer passports and discounts at different distilleries (we’ll be the first to admit that wine- and beer-centric “trails” seem to offer more add-on experiences; consider most of these thematic travel/drinking guides).

Distilled Spirits Council American Whiskey Trail

Since DISCUS provided the news, we’ll highlight their curated distillery path, which centers on George Washington’s Distillery at Mount Vernon and encompasses both important and major distilleries (Bulleit, Wild Turkey, Angel’s Envy, etc.) and places connected to the history of distilling and spirits in the U.S. (like the Fraunces Tavern Museum in NYC and Gadsby’s Tavern Museum in Alexandria, VA).

Hudson Whiskey
Hudson Whiskey, one of several stops on the Hudson Valley Distilling Trail
Hudson Whiskey

Hudson Valley Distilling Trail

Head north from New York and you’ll hit up a beautiful and cultural region awash in vineyards, breweries and distilleries. The 19 producers highlighted on this trail, hailing from Westchester, Orange, Ulster and Dutchess counties, produce a lot of rye whiskey, but also gin, vodka, bourbon, brandies, applejack and grappa. While you’re driving, definitely make a stop at Tuthilltown Spirits, the home of Hudson Whiskey, where you might just sip on your favorite new rye.

a bottle of Whiskey Rebellion and some glasses, part of a stop on the Whiskey Rebellion Trail
Learn about how a whiskey tax changed America on the Whiskey Rebellion Trail
Kirk Miller

Whiskey Rebellion Trail

We went on a four-day bender media preview in 2019 of this recently launched and fairly extensive and whiskey-centric trail, which highlights craft distilleries in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington and Baltimore, in addition to towns and rural areas in between. Unlike some of the other trails, this you can buy passes that’ll get you flight vouchers and discounts. Many of these places involved in this Trail are meant to highlight the famous late 18th-century tax rebellion, one that eventually changed the fabric of our country and involved, among others, George Washington and Alexander Hamilton. 

Colorado Spirits Trail

While the Trail site itself hasn’t been updated since 2019 — so we’re not sure if the free T-shirts and free booze bottle offers (depending on how many of the distilleries you visit) are still viable — consider this an ideal roadmap for visiting 61 craft producers in Colorado, including personal favorites like Distillery 291, Laws Whiskey House and Stranahan’s.

Portland’s Distillery Row

It’s one of the more active Trails — their site is promoting the return of discounts and special promotions — and this one is that it doesn’t involve days of driving. And that’s because this showcasing a dozen craft distillers located in one city: Portland, OR, with stops stretching from the SE Industrial District and to the Northwest and Slabtown Districts across the river. Fun fact: The city has what they claim to be the largest concentration of craft distilleries in the world, so this is a good chance to check out Westward (excellent American Single Malts) and other innovative producers.