Holiday Traditions? Bourbon Please.

// December 27th, 2010 // America


I love the holidays. I love overbearing family, tacky decorations, Christmas music, and baking. Someone recently asked about my family’s traditions. And truth be told, they’re not that much different from everyone else’s. However, my parents moved to rural Kentucky and the Bourbon Capital of the World four years ago, and since then we’ve adapted a new holiday tradition: Visiting Bourbon Distilleries. I’ve toured Jim Beam, Heaven Hill, Maker’s Mark, and most recently, Wild Turkey. The Walker clan headed out to Wild Turkey just a couple of days before Christmas this year and in typical Walker fashion…

We were to meet my dad at 12:30 for lunch near his office. We piled in the car, oh about 15 minutes late. My speed-demon sister is at the wheel since we’re running late. My brother-in-law can’t find his sunglasses.  My mother’s co-worker pulls in the driveway to drop off a Christmas present, so while my mom gets back out of the car, my brother-in-law is back in the house looking for sunglasses. Five minutes later we finally leave. From our house we have a 25 mile ride on the Bluegrass Parkway. My dad calls me to find out where we’re at. This is how the conversation goes:

Dad: Where are you guys? I’m at the restaurant. Should I get a table?
Me: I don’t know, somewhere on the Bluegrass.
Dad: What mile marker?
Me: I don’t know what mile marker we’re at. I don’t see one.
Dad: Do you know what a mile marker sign looks like?
(At this point we pass a mile marker sign and my brother in law holds up a 3).
Me: Umm, wait 10 minutes and then get a table.
Dad: Ask your mother where you’re at.
Me: She doesn’t know either. We’ll be there soon.
Dad: You left late didn’t you?
Me: We’ll be there soon.

After arriving at the restaurant 20 minutes late, we rehash the events leading up to our arrival. My brother-in-law makes sure to tell my dad that I knew we were at mile marker three and failed to pass the info along. I give him the stink eye.


We ate lunch and headed out for Wild Turkey Distillery in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. There is a ‘discussion’ on who got (or failed to get) directions. We called Wild Turkey en route but as the minutes pass, it’s apparent that we have missed a turn. With only minutes to spare before the scheduled tour, we know we’re going to miss it. I jump out of the car at a gas station and see a woman behind the counter lighting a cigarette just before I enter. She hides the cigarette when I open the door (since it’s illegal) but I can tell she’s been chain smoking as the air is stifling. I ask her how to get to Wild Turkey and she gives such precise directions that one can only guess she’s been there a time or two for her own tasting.

We had missed the turnoff because a UPS truck had been blocking the sign. There is grumbling about the missed tour and how we will have to wait around for an hour now. Then, my sister points out the Drive-Thru Flea Market, and it’s a welcome distraction that makes for a good laugh. Sometimes, you think you’ve seen it all in the south, but small southern towns are full of surprises and hidden gems- like a Drive-Thru Flea Market! We were able to join the tour just as they were leaving from the Visitor’s Center. At the conclusion, we could choose two tastings- I went for the Kentucky Spirit Bourbon and the American Honey Liqueur. I’m not a bourbon fan at all but you can’t turn down free sips.


Bourbon’s not exactly the first thing you think of when you think of Christmas, but it’s become part of our holiday tradition. I hope you had a very Merry Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Diwali, Festivus…. whatever and however you celebrate, I hope it was spent in good company with family and friends! Do you have any holiday traditions?

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17 Responses to “Holiday Traditions? Bourbon Please.”

  1. Connie says:

    That is one of the BEST Christmas traditions I’ve heard of! How fun!

  2. ayngelina says:

    I love that tradition, sign me up!
    ayngelina´s last [type] ..How I will remember 2010

  3. Now thats a holiday tradition I can get into
    Chris – The Aussie Nomad´s last [type] ..Featured Photo- Alleyway- Vilnius

  4. Andi says:

    Merry Christmas lovely! Glad you were able to celebrate with your fam. Bourbon sounds yummy!!!
    Andi´s last [type] ..Chile- Argentina &amp Uruguay- Day 1

  5. Heather says:

    Drive-thru flea market?!?! A-MAZ-ING! I’ve been saving ideas for an American road trip and these are some new must-stops for the trip (in the next couple of years I think…!).

    What were some of the other varieties available? I imagine there are lots of them that you’d never know about unless you did the tour. How unique :-)
    Heather´s last [type] ..Heather’s Holiday Hiatus

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  7. John says:

    oh, that is just gorgeous! I love it!
    John´s last [type] ..Как ухаживать за хомяком

  8. ShaSha says:

    In Russia we also have this kind of drink, called red vodka and cognac..

  9. Kyle says:

    Is Southern Comfort a bourbon? I think that’s a tradition I could get behind :)

    Merry Christmas/Happy New Year!!!

  10. Erica says:

    I think it is a mighty fine way to spend the holidays. Why not starts early. ;)
    Erica´s last [type] ..Travel Vaccines – The More You Know

  11. Sofia says:

    Christmas tradition or not, it’s a family tradition, and spending some quality time with your family is what Christmas is all about!

  12. Yummmmm. Bourbon in the winter. Gin in the summer. Red wine year round!
    Michael Hodson´s last [type] ..Middlin’ to Average Moments in 2010

  13. Great tradition! Family AND bourbon. Mmmm.
    DTravelsRound´s last [type] ..Purgatory

  14. Federico says:

    One great tradition for sure! Happy New Year!
    Federico´s last [type] ..Maitravelsite Travel Sweepstakes January 2011

  15. Margo says:

    If you ever want to write anything for The Travel Belles – ah… yeah – something along these lines would be kind of perfect. Not a bourban fan, but I’m open – sounds like a great tradition to me!
    Margo´s last [type] ..Stepping Away from the Skyscrapers in Singapore

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