Visit to the Willett Distillery in Bardstown, KY

Hello friends! Today I thought I’d share an adventure that my husband and I took this Spring to Bardstown, KY. My grandfather was born and raised in Bardstown and I had never been back to visit. I had never met most of his siblings or their families and it’s a trip I’d always wanted to take. My grandmother would visit annually after my grandfather passed away and she always had the most wonderful stories to share. A part of her heart always resided in Kentucky and after visiting myself, I know why.

My father’s last trip before he passed away was to Bardstown. He had the best time and couldn’t stop talking about it. Hearing him share memories of his trip made my heart sing.

My family has a big reunion in Bardstown every 3-4 years. This year, my step mom, my dad’s two brothers and their spouses and my cousins all planned to make the trip. After quite a bit of convincing, I was able to talk my husband into making the trip with me. Part of the reason I was able to convince him is that his favorite baseball team is the Kansas City Royals and they were playing at home at the same time we were traveling. We (he) decided to drive to Kentucky and attend two back-to-back Royals games in Kansas City on our way home.

As hesitant as I was to make that long drive, it sure was beautiful! It was so much fun to finally see the big arch in St. Louis and drive through Illinois and Indiana. On our way to Kansas City, we even made a brief stop at Churchill Downs! My grandmother always talked about the Kentucky Derby and we happened to be there the weekend before the big race. Preparations were fully underway with hats on display and fresh flowers ready for the big day. My dream is to go to the Derby one day.

Meeting my grandfather’s extended family was incredibly special to me. They were so warm and welcoming and I felt like I have known them my entire life. It was so much fun to hear stories about cousins playing together and to visit the home he and his 8 siblings grew up in. I imagined them running up and down the stairs and climbing trees in the yard while mom yelled at them to be quiet. I have quite a vivid imagination and created many stories in my mind. He has one living sibling remaining and she is the glue that holds the family together. She’s also a pistol!

I absolutely fell in love with the entire family and with the town of Bardstown. Imagine visiting a place for the first time and feeling like it’s where you belong. That is how I felt in Bardstown. Colorado will always be my home, but Kentucky has a piece of my heart.

I thought I would share some photos here on the blog of our visit during the trip to the family distillery. Since 1939, my family has been making bourbon. My great grandfather Thompson started the distillery. Ironically, I am not a bourbon drinker, but I loved hearing stories about the distillery and seeing the Old Bardstown glasses in grandma and grandpa’s kitchen cabinet. When my father passed away, my step mom shipped those glasses to me and I love seeing them in my own kitchen cabinet. They make me think of those wonderful days at grandma and grandpa’s house. Every other Friday night, we’d have a big family dinner and grandma would prepare a huge Italian meal. We would all gather around the dining room table and laugh until our cheeks hurt.

The Willett Distillery is still in the family today and I was so excited to finally visit. The property has been updated over the last few years and tours are held on a daily basis. My husband and step mom and aunt and uncle took a tour together and it was amazing! I didn’t sample any bourbon, but my husband and the rest of the group did and they said it was delicious. In fact, Willett bourbon has won many awards and is considered among the best. If you ever travel to Bardstown, KY I recommend a stop at the Willett Distillery. The grounds are so beautiful and the staff is friendly and very knowledgeable.

I may be a little bit biased because it’s belonged to my family for so many years, but it really was a treat. There is also an incredible gift shop with some gorgeous gifts from bourbon to glasses to barware. One of the things I enjoyed about Bardstown is all of the architecture. Brick buildings are abundant and the the citizens there are so proud of the history. After the tour of the distillery, we had lunch at a restaurant that has bullet holes (still today) from Jessie James! There is tempered glass covering the walls, but you can still see the bullet holes.

Speaking of bourbon, we learned that there are several other distilleries in Bardstown. Willett Distillery just happens to lead the list of Top 10 things to do in Bardstown. How about that? It’s a charming town filled with character. Yours truly will definitely be at the next family reunion.

Without further ado, here are some photos for your viewing pleasure.

Thanks for stopping by friends! I hope you enjoyed this little story about my family history. Family is the most important thing in my life and it’s always fun to learn about those that came before me.


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