It’s impossible to check off every spot on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail in just a day — there are 37 locations spread as far as 70 miles apart, after all. But there’s a portion of the trail that can easily be enjoyed in 24 hours: The B-Line, Northern Kentucky’s self-guided bourbon tour.
The B-Line hits 25 whiskey-friendly stops in Northern Kentucky, including Covington, Newport, Independence, Burlington, Sparta, Augusta, and Maysville. Featuring seven craft distilleries from the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour, plus nine bourbon bars and nine bourbon-centric restaurants, this official route is an easy and enjoyable way to dip your toes into the bourbon trail.
Here’s how we suggest spending 24 hours exploring some of the best B-Line highlights, immersed in Northern Kentucky culture. Happy sipping!
Start your day at Second Sight Spirits, a unique distillery serving pastries and various craft coffee drinks on weekend mornings. The space invokes the energy of a fortune teller’s lair, featuring crystal balls on every table and a live fortune-telling fish.
It is owned by Carus Waggoner and Rick Couch, longtime friends and former Cirque du Soleil coworkers. The duo has incorporated the look of the contemporary circus into their business, building their still to resemble Zoltar — the face of the all-knowing animatronic fortune-telling machine — complete with what Carus says is the world’s only crystal ball condenser.
The still helps the duo produce everything from bourbon and apple pie moonshine to spiced rum and hazelnut liqueur. Book a distillery tour and tasting to learn more about Carus and Rick’s foray into bourbon making before sampling the goods.
Next, head to lunch at Libby’s Southern Comfort, a Covington favorite. Known for its family-recipe fried chicken, the restaurant also serves hush puppies infused with goetta, a Metro Cincinnati dish made with pork, beef, and pinhead oats. We really liked the buttermilk fried chicken and biscuit plate — but if you happen to be there for Sunday brunch, try the Kentucky Breakfast Brown, a morning-meal version of Louisville’s most famous dish. The Libby’s rendition boasts house-made fries topped with goetta, applewood bacon, scrambled eggs, tomato, and cheddar cheese — all covered in sage-sausage gravy.
Once you’ve had your fill of southern food, take a tour at New Riff Distilling. The award-winning distillery has been bringing bourbon to Northern Kentucky since 2014 in a vast facility that features multiple levels of tasting fun. Those samples include more than bourbon and whiskey — visitors who take the Bonded Tour even get to taste the mash bill, which is the grain combination used for making multigrain spirits. And don’t forget to stop by the gift shop on the way out, as tour-goers receive a one-time discount.
After you’ve experienced modern bourbon making at its best, take a step back in time at Revival Vintage Bottle Shop. Said to be a combination of the TV series American Pickers and Pawn Stars, this shop features a vast selection of rare vintage bourbons and more. Guests 21 and older can sample four half-ounce pours from their collection, with sips ranging from $5 to $100 each.
Try some Jim Beam from 1987 or a bit of 1944 Old Charter, released on the same day as the first Kentucky Derby. Full bottles are also available for purchase, as well as unique decanters in fun shapes like a Ford Model A.
All that drinking will surely work up an appetite, and Bouquet is the perfect place to take a dinner break. Known for being one of the first restaurants in the area to incorporate local and sustainable farming into its menu, the eatery utilizes ingredients from more than 30 regional family farms, bakers, and specialty producers.
We suggest starting with a cheese plate, which features an ever-changing daily selection of cheeses. Next, try the Maple Leaf Farms duck with mushrooms, roasted carrots, kale, smoked grapes, balsamic gastrique, and parsnip purée. The perfectly pink serving is both tender and flavorful. And we never skip dessert — especially when options include everything from sweet corn cake to house-made ice cream or sorbet.
Bouquet also offers a full bar with an extensive bourbon collection. But if you’re looking for a new nightcap spot, we suggest Knowledge Bar & Social Room, named after Knowledge, the racehorse on which Coppin’s Department Store founder John Coppin placed a fortune-making winning bet.
The opulent bar boasts ample cozy seating in an upbeat, energetic space that emanates a nightclub-style experience. Sip on a glass from the extensive champagne collection, or try different wines from around the world. There is also a selection of carefully crafted cocktails that are fun and flavorful. We liked the Valentino, made with El Jimador añejo, mezcal, strawberry, pomegranate, lime, vanilla, and a red wine float.
Knowledge Bar & Social Room is located on the bottom floor of North by Hotel Covington, which features luxurious apartment-style rooms in a modernized historical building. So if you’re having too much fun on your day-long B-line excursion, you can book a room, wake up, and do it all over again at different B-line sipping points.
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