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Kentucky Derby Museum
Urban Bourbon

Urban Bourbon

Bourbon and Derby are synonymous with the city of Louisville, two industries that have contributed to the history of the city and are part of its enduring culture. The roots of these industries in Louisville go back to the city’s earliest days, and, although separate, are now intertwined in the minds of many both inside and outside the city. The Mint Julep has been the traditional beverage of Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby for nearly a century.


The exhibit features several interactive sections while showcasing the importance and history of bourbon in the city of Louisville.

  • Visitors can "order" a selection off of a bar menu which will activate several short video clips. An interactive Ipad technology allows the exhibit bar to be hosted by a Virtual Bartender at all hours of the exhibit. (Menu items include: Savor the Flavor, Bourbon Babble, Bourbon basics, Modern Manhattan, Bourbon Twisted)
  • Why Bourbon?: how the native American spirit got its name.
  • By a Nose: how to taste, what to smell. Demonstrated by glass beakers and sniff containers mounted on the wall, guests can put their noses to the test.
  • Timeline of bourbon and racing in the city of Louisville and the parallel growth for the two native traditions.
  • Family Affair: the family dynasties that became the leaders of the industry.
  • Vintage ads from many of the bourbon industry branding campaigns.
  • Definitions of Bourbon: all bourbon is whiskey but not all whiskey is bourbon… why?
  • A fully functional bar! This well-stocked bar was constructed by local craftsman to give the essence of a bourbon bar that might be found in Louisville (very similar to a newly-installed bar in the Derby Café at the Derby Museum).  The bar itself was created from one of the last original trees from the farmland of John and Henry Churchill here on the museum’s property. The tree had to come down during a renovation in 1999 but the wood was saved and sent to the Bluegrass Cooperage’s Benton Sawmill where it was milled into planks. Those planks make up the body of the new exhibit bar which will be used in the museum for years to come!












Bourbon & Derby Facts

On Derby Day, Churchill Downs uses:

7800 liters of Bourbon

420,000 lbs of shaved ice

2250 lbs of mint




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