It’s only right to begin this list with the beginning of bourbon. Founded in 1870 by George Garvin Brown, Old Forester is the first-known commercially bottled bourbon, according to Whiskey Rocks. When Prohibition began in 1920, Old Forester was one of the few companies permitted to continue manufacturing and selling whiskey legally, and it is the only one still in operation today (via Old Forester Distilling Co.).
Now, tours are given of this historic brand’s distillery in Louisville on Whiskey Row. On the Old Forester Tour, guests can witness the bourbon-making process from start to finish and see firsthand everything that goes into fermentation, distillation, barrel-making, maturation, and bottling. The tour also includes a bourbon tasting of four Old Forester expressions, which are on constant rotation throughout the year. The other tour, which runs less frequently, is the Nothing Better On the Market Tour. This experience offers the same distillery tour plus a guided tasting that includes Old Forester Single Barrel, 1910 Old Fine Whiskey, and Old Forester Birthday Bourbon.
While you’re at Old Forester, you may also have the opportunity to purchase a bottle of the brand’s 117 Series. Only available at the distillery, each bottling of these limited-production bourbons highlights a different aspect of the brand’s history or production. The 2022 release, for instance, commemorates the 2015 fire that ravaged Whiskey Row (via Old Forester Distilling Co.).