The Best Road Trips in America: The Bourbon Country Tour

Noble Horvath

Stop Locations: Purcellville, VA to Maxwelton, WV Total Travel Time: 5 hours 20 minutes Total Miles: 320 miles Recommended Route: Head a bit further east today before looping back westward toward your origin in Kentucky. You’ll make it just about halfway, stopping in West Virginia for a little more whiskey […]

Stop Locations: Purcellville, VA to Maxwelton, WV

Total Travel Time: 5 hours 20 minutes

Total Miles: 320 miles

Recommended Route: Head a bit further east today before looping back westward toward your origin in Kentucky. You’ll make it just about halfway, stopping in West Virginia for a little more whiskey and a good night’s sleep.

Along the Way:

Town: Alexandria, Virginia. Your first whiskey stop today may be a surprising one. An hour east of Purcellville, stop at George Washington’s Distillery at Mount Vernon in Alexandria to tour a re-creation of one of the nation’s earliest large-scale whiskey distilleries, and one of the most profitable ventures on Washington’s estate. Washington’s recipe is once again being produced, in very limited batches, since the distillery’s reopening in 2007.

Town: Sample one last taste of Virginia whiskey at KO Distilling in Manassas, about 45 minutes west of Alexandria. Try a flight of Bare Knuckle whiskeys, including straight bourbon, wheat, and rye, from this relative newcomer to the craft distilling scene. A tour before your tasting will take about 30 minutes.

Eat: Have lunch in Manassas before the final 3.5-hour haul to Maxwelton. At The Bone BBQ, you’ll find pulled pork, hickory-smoked chicken, smoked turkey, brisket, and more served with sweet potato fries, mac-n-cheese, and baked potato on a menu that also includes specialty sandwiches like a brisket and pulled pork po’boy and a few juicy burgers. If you’re feeling the need to be somewhat healthy, try the Cajun Chopped Salad with brisket.

Upon Arrival:

Do: Get a taste of Appalachian whiskey at Smooth Ambler Spirits in the West Virginia mountains, where they believe their clean water, crisp air, and ideal climate produce some of the country’s top spirits. Smooth Ambler specializes in bourbon whiskies, so be sure to take some comparison sips before returning to limestone-laced Kentucky tomorrow…for research.

Eat: Most of the area action is in Lewisburg, 5 minutes from Maxwelton, and it’s here that you’ll find Food & Friends, a neighborhood favorite for a good meal and equally good atmosphere. Check out the char-grilled menu for brisket, pecan-crusted chicken, and baby back ribs, or try the bourbon-glazed salmon (also char-grilled).

Stay: Maxwelton/Lewisburg isn’t exactly a tourist area, so you won’t be staying in town. Luckily, there’s a sweet little apart-hotel in nearby White Sulphur Springs, about 15 minutes away, and you’ll spend a comfortable night here at Howard’s Creek Inn.

Breakfast: Back in Lewisburg, hit up The Wild Bean for a dependable breakfast of Huevos Rancheros or the Papas Platter of home fries, fajita veggies, and avocado topped with buttermilk crema and salsa. You can also try the scrambled eggs menu, with plenty of add-ins like black beans, jalapeños, spinach, or sautéed peppers and onions.

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