Yes, you bourbon-lovers can enjoy a distillery tour in Lebanon, the Heart of Kentucky, for Saturday of this weekend. Limited. But yes…available. And as strange as it sounds, this is the first weekend in a long time that’s been possible.
Prior to the COVID-19 shutdown of just about everything earlier this year, bourbon-related tourism was big business in Lebanon, Marion County, Kentucky. Virtually overnight, the flow was cut off…pun intended.
Now there are multiple industries anxiously awaiting the return of what was once so retail wonderful: Large numbers of folks coming to dine, shop and stay, sometimes even by the tour busload.
Well, here’s the glimmer of the return, underway now.
Limestone Branch Distillery in Lebanon, KY, resumed tours and tasting on June 16, 2020, and this Saturday, June 20, 2020 is the first weekend day of resumed tours. The distillery will continue to be closed on Sundays until Aug. 3, 2020.
On tours currently available Monday through Saturday at Limestone, restrictions abound. But at least it’s a start.
Tours are limited to four people. (On Monday, June 22 that number grows to six.) There’s a 16 guest limit in the gift shop. (But the curbside delivery option remains in place.)
Also masks will be made available to guests, and are required in some of the “sensitive areas” of the tour.
Here are two tips for those of you considering a tour:
- All the details are available by going to www.limestonebranch.com. You’ll find an excellent page that’ll pop up providing all the details you’ll want to know and need to know.
- Book that tour online…and early. The chances of you showing up and landing one of the few open spots? Slim to none.
Limestone folks have cranked up the scheduled cleanings of the facility, and now there’s a once-a-week professional deep clean.
“I think everyone wants to get back to some semblance of normal,” said Limestone’s main man Steve Beam. “But everything we’re doing we’re doing with public safety in mind, and we’re going by the guidelines provided by the state and the Kentucky Distillery Association.”
Jan Fattizzi, Limestone’s visitor center manager, is spearheading the distillery’s resumption of tours and tastings.
“So far our visitors have been great, very positive,” she said. “They understand that what we’re doing we’re keeping their safety in mind first and foremost.”
WHAT’S MAKER’S MARK DOING?
Maker’s Mark near Loretto in Marion County, the Heart of Kentucky, continues to publicize they have “temporarily shut down our distillery tours.”
Bob Lauder, of Doe Anderson, the publicity firm for Maker’s Mark, said decisions are being made carefully.
“At this point, there are no firm decisions,” he said Thursday, June 18, 2020. “As you might imagine, Maker’s is approaching this smartly and safely.”
WHAT’S KENTUCKY COOPERAGE DOING?
Lisa Spalding, office manager at Independent Stave Company’s Kentucky Cooperage in Lebanon, said tours of the bourbon barrel production facility remain “cancelled indefinitely.”
“We are hoping to reopen our gift shop at the Visitor’s Center on July 6,” she said Thursday. “But at this point there are no plans in place yet to resume tours.”
But, she said, they will eventually resume…after much planning and careful consideration.
Meanwhile, in the rest of Lebanon and Marion County, the Heart of Kentucky, there’s a “yes, we are in business” campaign underway that kind of says it all. (That campaign is the brainchild of the Marion County Chamber of Commerce, the Lebanon/Marion County Industrial Foundation, and the Lebanon Tourist & Convention Commission.)
The dining opportunities in the Heart of Kentucky are worthy of drawing visitors from everywhere…because they’re wonderful. For a complete listing of all your dine-in and curbside options and more, go here: https://visitlebanonky.com/covid-19/, and see more listings in the “where to dine” options on the homepage at www.visitlebanonky.com.
And retail options, like That Cute Little Shop, J & J (also a tourist info stop), and more are all in business. For a complete listing, go here: https://visitlebanonky.com/where-to-shop/.
In fact, head over to www.visitlebanonky.com and you’ll find all the information you need to plan your visit, complete with contact numbers.
And yes…this weekend, or any time soon, would be a great time to visit.