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KSR County Spotlight: Nelson County


And we’re back!  How was your lake time?  Did you get burnt? Me too.  Well, it’s time to stop lounging around and talk about something productive, like bourbon.  I’m going to warn you now, I love me some bourbon so get used to that theme.  Let’s hop on 27 North, then over to 150 West for our next stop on the tour … Nelson County!


Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.


The oldest of the counties we’ve visited thus far, Nelson was founded shortly after the Revolutionary War in 1784.  The county was named after Thomas Nelson Jr., a Virginia Governor who is considered one of the Founding Fathers as you can find his signature on the Declaration of Independence.  So he was pretty important.  It’s also said that Federal Hill in Nelson County was the inspiration for My Old Kentucky Home, written by Stephen Foster.  He was also important.  Are we good on the history?  Yes?  Nice, let’s talk about Bardstown!


The Sun Shines Bright .... (image from

The Sun Shines Bright …. (image from


Bardstown is fantastic!  Starting from the beginning, Bardstown is the second oldest city in Kentucky, founded in 1780.  With this age comes some great historical landmarks, like The Old Talbott Tavern.  Built in 1779, this tavern has seen the likes of General George Rogers Clark, Daniel Boone and King Louis Phillipe of France.  Oh, and some guy named Abraham Lincoln stayed there as a child.  And as you may have guessed, our friend Jesse James turns up here as well.  This guy got around.  He even left a few bullet holes in the upstairs walls.  Holding the distinction of the ‘Worlds Oldest Bourbon Bar’ makes Talbott Tavern your first, and potentially only stop in Bardstown depending on your drinking habits.  (PS … it’s also haunted.)


Sticking with our bourbon theme, let’s talk about Bardstown’s distilleries.  While being surrounded on either side by Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark, Bardstown is home to three very familiar distilleries.  Heaven Hill, the 7th largest alcohol supplier in the country has its headquarters in Bardstown.  Some of their more popular bourbons include Elijah Craig and Evan Williams.  They do produce other spirits besides bourbon, including whiskey, rum and gin.  Barton Brands also runs a distillery in Bardstown.  Their more popular brand bourbons include 1792 Ridgemont Reserve, Kentucky Tavern and Kentucky Gentleman.  Barton’s also makes a bunch of other products including gin, rum, or if you were Drew between 2004 and 2007, handles of Skol Vodka for 12 bucks.  A lesser known but still delicious set of products comes out of the Willett Distillery.  You can grab yourself a bottle of Johnny Drum, Old Bardstown, or sample one of their small batch collections.  There’s a reason this town is called the Bourbon Capital of The World, and it’s not just because of September’s Kentucky Bourbon Festival.


I'll have mine on the rocks.  No ice please.

I’ll have mine on the rocks. No ice please.


Now I know what you’re thinking … with all of this alcohol, why would I want to visit if I don’t drink?  You want to because Bardstown is perfect.  I’m talking major award-wining perfect.  Citing the history, tradition, and people,  USA Today and Rand McNally named Bardstown the Most Beautiful Small Town in America.  There are tons of family oriented places to visit, including the Kentucky Railway Museum, the Stephen Foster Amphitheater and My Old Kentucky Home State Park.  There are constant summer concerts and festivals too numerous to name.  I’m talking picnics, plays, car shows, everything.  Check them all out here.  And if you find yourself free on July 12th, you should come out to the Southwest Nelson/New Haven Rams Golf Outing.  This is an incredibly fun event that I’ve been looking forward to since last year’s ended and it’s a good chance to support the youth, that we have.


Just bought two tickets.  Who's coming with?

Just bought two tickets. Who’s coming with?


So there we are, another stop in the books.  We have to be running short on counties, right?  Nope.  Well alright, let’s have some more fun, and do another hometown visit!  Drew, tell the parents we’re coming home to Hopkins County!


If you have any information you’d like to submit about your county, things I may have missed, or just want to chat how much Kentucky rocks, email me at [email protected] 


Article written by Corey James

12 Comments for KSR County Spotlight: Nelson County

  1. Bullitt County UK fan
    8:29 pm June 27, 2014 Permalink

    Y’all need to do Bullitt County! Heres what Wikipedia says:
    For thousands of years before the county’s formation, nutrient-rich salt licks attracted large herds of bison and other game to the area. Native American tribes made it their hunting grounds, as did the 18th century longhunter. In 1773, after the French and Indian War, the Virginia governor sent Captain Thomas Bullitt (uncle to Alexander Scott Bullitt) into the area to survey for land grants. The most historic of the county’s salt licks, Bullitt’s Lick, is named after him. As the Revolutionary War led to widespread salt shortages, the Lick became the site of Kentucky’s first industry, attracting many settlers to the area.[7][8]

    Colonial veterans of the war were promised land in what was later called Kentucky. Bullitt’s Lick became an important saltwork to the region; its salt was harvested and sent by pack train and flatboat as far off as Illinois to the west. The Bullitt’s Lick saltwork was Kentucky’s first industry and in production until around 1830. By that time, the steamboat and importing of salt brought access to less expensive sources.

    The first settlement of the area was also the first station on the Wilderness Road between Harrodsburg and the Falls of the Ohio. It was a fort called Brashear’s Station or the Salt River Garrison, built in 1779 at the mouth of Floyd’s Fork. Most of the county was settled after the American Revolutionary War. Shepherdsville, named after Adam Shepherd, a prosperous business man who purchased the land near the Falls of Salt River in 1793, is the oldest town and became the county seat.

    In December of 1796[3] the county of Bullitt, named after Thomas Bullitt’s nephew and Kentucky’s first Lieutenant Governor Alexander Scott Bullitt,[9] was organized from land taken from Jefferson and Nelson counties through an act approved on December 13, 1796 by the Kentucky General Assembly. In 1811, the northwestern area of the county expanded to include land given by Jefferson County. In 1824, an eastern area of the county was given to help form Spencer County.[10]

    Great place, Deserves to be recognized on this great website

  2. soggyUKgrad
    9:02 pm June 27, 2014 Permalink

    “I’ll have mine on the rocks…no ice please.”….on the rocks means with ice

    • Corey James
      9:24 pm June 27, 2014 Permalink

      Really? I had no idea. (Sarcasm my friend)

    • soggyUKgrad
      2:48 am June 28, 2014 Permalink

      Sometimes sarcasm is difficult to distinguish from ignorance. My bad “friend.”

  3. Ikkirus
    9:11 pm June 27, 2014 Permalink

    I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. If you ordered it at a bar on the rocks, it would come on ice. I think what he’s trying to say is that he likes is on frozen soapstone. That way it doesn’t water down the bourbon.

  4. Drthunder
    9:12 pm June 27, 2014 Permalink

    I attended Cox’s Creek Elementary, St. Joseph Elementary, OKH Middle and NCHS.
    I frequented the Donkey Tree. (Sorry WC.)
    I student-coached Neal Brown at AAU bball when he was pip squeak.
    Prom night included talbot tavern and seeing Jesse James’ bullet holes before it burned.
    One time I accidentally called drew franklin “beisner” in Atlanta at the sec tournament.
    I’ve known Fake Barney and Chester for over 15 years.
    I dunked on Anthony Epps in 1993.
    My son is talking on xbox with Adolph Rupp’s great grandson right now.
    UK’s BB winning % correlates with how close I live to campus.
    I got six detentions for refusing to quit playing cards in NCHS chemistry class. (I had a killer hand took the fall for the other 5 players.)
    When I was a kid, HS Bball fame > deer hunting > field parties > everything else
    Sour mash smells awful.

    Go NC.

    • Dr Suess
      9:38 pm June 27, 2014 Permalink

      Thank you for your post. I was thinking of buying your autobiography but feel like there’s no need to now!

    • Drthunder
      8:30 pm June 28, 2014 Permalink

      That didn’t rhyme.

  5. wickersham
    9:22 pm June 27, 2014 Permalink

    Bardstown had 5 high schools and a college when I graduated in 1959. Bill Samuels of Makers fame graduated in ’58 and we have been lifelong pals. There was Bardstown Training, Old Kentucky Home, St. Joe Prep, Bethlehem and Bardstown High, our school. THREE of the high schools put players in to the NFL, Jeff Van Note(St. Joe), Amos Martin(Bardstown High and Virgil Livers (OKH became Nelson Co). Our coach Garnis Martin was at one time the all time winningest football coach in Kentucky and then Joe Jaggers (NCHS) later was number 1. For a little town it rocks, but the REALLY GOOD ROCKING ON WEEKENDS was in nearby Lebanon. Legendary!!

  6. UKAndrew
    9:42 pm June 27, 2014 Permalink

    Jerry Bruckheimer and supposedly William Shatner own land out near Bloomfield. Bruckheimer also owns the land the old Bloomfield Middle School is on.

  7. Bungholio
    9:45 pm June 27, 2014 Permalink

    I know where the Bruckheimer place is and they actually own the majority of the buildings in downtown Bloomfield. The Donkey Tree is a must see.
    I have pics somewhere.

  8. ushouldno
    10:41 pm June 27, 2014 Permalink

    When the owners of Federal Hill released their slaves in late 1865 they relocated in southern Jefferson county near dixie highway. Their descendants still live there, with the same name of their former owners.