While our international jet-setting may be cancelled for the year, bourbon lovers don’t need to go far to be transported to a whiskey wonderland. Just 15 minutes outside of Lexington, The Kentucky Castle is easy to spot from the road – set in the rolling hills of horse country, it’s hard to miss a literal castle, complete with walls and turrets. To look at the soaring stone towers, the building seems frozen in time, a relic from days past. But the bustling 55-acre bourbon oasis holds gourmet farm-to-table food, a vibrant activities calendar, and a provincial farm with horses and more.
Construction on the property began in 1969 when a gentleman from eastern Kentucky and his new bride returned from their honeymoon flush with inspiration from castles they saw across Europe. Sadly, the marriage didn’t survive the building phase, leaving the unique home unfinished and for sale for decades. In 2003, a new owner began renovations to build a bed and breakfast, before a fire in 2004 burned the main building to the ground. Bound and determined to finish what he’d started, the new owner finally completed construction in 2007 and christened the space Castle Post. He managed the property for 10 years as an exclusive bed and breakfast and wedding venue before selling the estate in 2017.
Under the current ownership, The Kentucky Castle takes the bed and breakfast concept to the next level, maintaining impeccable southern hospitality while welcoming guests from around the country – and right down the street.
Guests checking in are whisked up a grand staircase to unlock the sturdy wooden doors to their rooms with heavy brass keys. The guest rooms within the castle are fitted with stately four post beds and marble flooring, with cozy sitting areas nestled in the turrets. Even more charming, each of the four towers on the exterior wall hold a two-story chalet with a living room on the ground floor and a bedroom on the second.
If you’re peckish, the farm-to-table menu at Castle Farm has local ingredients from farms that provide everything from Mangalitsa pigs to black truffles. Head Chef Jason Wahls offers a menu that Beverage Director Shell Rapier calls “French with soul,” focusing on charcuterie and local meats. Rapier has been with the bar program since its inception, helping curate an extensive bourbon and American whiskey collection and updating drink menus for each season.
“She’s constantly taking our bar staff on outings, constantly training,” brags General Manager RJ Bilinovic, who mentions that their bar staff is fully certified as Bourbon Stewards to help bourbon lovers create flights and teach novices more as they taste. The bar has a retail license as well, for guests to pick up a souvenir single barrel from local craft distilleries like Hartfield & Co.
More likely than not, your stay will overlap with one of the property’s events, which range from murder mystery dinners to crash courses in bourbon stewardship to rooftop goat yoga to a provincial lavender harvest (for all the French countryside feels). Check their Facebook page for the full calendar – local or tourist, they’ll have something for you. The staff has also helped host private events, including last year’s celebrity wedding for a couple from Bravo’s “Vanderpump Rules.”
But you don’t need to be a guest to enjoy what The Kentucky Castle has to offer. Make a reservation to dinner any morning, noon, or night of the week, or pop in to let the bartenders craft you a cocktail and sample rare pours. Take your drink out to wander the property, see the horses, and discover even more hidden spots to stay like the cabin and the new yurt.
“Who doesn’t want to stay at a Castle? Having the opportunity to stay here is very special, says Kevin Ensor, Director of Hotel. “There’s not too many places in the United States where you can do that. And paired with our events, the restaurant, the bar – it’s the perfect setup, especially right here in Central Kentucky.”
The property is truly a one stop shop for a weekend in Bourbon Country, but if you do find the desire to leave, it’s located just 5 minutes from the famous Keeneland Racecourse, just 15 from famous distilleries like Woodford Reserve and Castle & Key, and just around the corner from fantastic bourbon bars like The Amsden. Visit www.thekentuckycastle.com to plan your trip!