The Kentucky Bourbon Trail brings in more than a million travelers each year, who set out across the state in search of the commonwealth’s beloved spirit.
But to the Yascone family? It feels more like the Kentucky Bourbon World than lone a trail.
For the past eight years, they’ve hosted international groups in their string of 11 private rentals that stretch from Louisville to the Appalachian Mountains. Much like Americans seek cultural experiences when they travel the globe, the visitors who come from Korea, China, Japan Spain, Australia, and the United Kingdom are eager for an authentic Kentucky adventure. Through Yascone Enterprises and its hospitality focus the family of entrepreneurs has become experts in curating travel throughout the Bluegrass State.
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In honor of National Bourbon Heritage Month, I spoke with Glenda Yascone and her three daughters, Faith, Love and Joy about how their business has ballooned along what appears to be a never-ending trail of spirits.
“It’s not just the bourbon trail, now it’s the bourbon world,” Faith explained. “It’s like a universe, and it’s a treasure hunt, and you’re on the path and you’re off the path. That’s how I feel like it’s developed.”
As the industry has grown so has the need for restaurants, activities, and accommodations around it. People travel the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, but they also need places to dine, beds to sleep in, and someone to show them the ropes once they’re here.
That’s where a hospitality business like the Yascone’s comes in.
“We’ve been a part of this evolution that has just been magical, and we’ve just been grateful for the (other entrepreneurs) who put themselves out there,” Faith said. “We have people doing phenomenal things in Louisville, Kentucky.”
Back in 2009, bourbon was a $3 billion industry with 19 distilleries, but now 95 distilleries are scattered across the state and the industry’s value has tripled, according to the Kentucky Distillers Association. Bourbon has revolutionized Kentucky tourism. The passage of Senate Bill 11 removed some archaic Prohibition-era laws to allow distilleries to open bars and restaurants to serve cocktails on site.
Over the years, dry Kentucky counties have gone from dry to moist to wet. Now the distillers association reports that Kentucky Bourbon Trail visitors spend between $400 and $1,200 on average during their trip.
The Yascones say their figure is much higher than that with most of their guests spending, at minimum, $2,000 each to enjoy Bourbon Country. Some groups will even spend four figures drinking bourbon at a single restaurant.
People want to “experience bourbon in its natural habitat,” Love says, and they’re very much willing to pay for it.
“People really come here to experience us, and the community, and bourbon,” Faith said. “We open their eyes to a lot of different things, but so do a lot of businesses that are all about this Bourbon Trail and producing travel to Louisville, Kentucky.”
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The family has always worked in property management, but the idea for their string of private vacation rentals began when the family stayed in something similar in Florida. Glenda was sure she could mix Kentucky’s growing tourism with its genuine sense of hospitality.
“It is our personality that we have in Kentucky, and it is the love that we share,” Glenda said. “I think that’s what makes Kentucky unique, and it’s the care and the love that we give our guests.”
So the Yascones searched for historic properties to use as rentals, and they crafted experiences around the budding Bourbon Trail. They dreamed up lavish theme parties, such as a Prohibition-era Christmas bash, and curated a diverse list of dive bars, hot spots, hidden gems and fine dining restaurants where travelers could mingle with Kentuckians.
The idea was that their guests could “live better than a local” and they could introduce them to our people, places, food, and music.
“Kentucky feels quite different to them,” Faith said. “They expect to throwback, and they get here and they throwdown.”
And the Yascones don’t expect the draw to the trail and the overall bourbon industry to slow down anytime soon.
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If anything, they say Kentucky needs more festivals and activities like Bourbon & Beyond and the Kentucky Bourbon Festival in Bardstown to keep that momentum growing.
“No one is getting tired of bourbon,” Faith said.
Features columnist Maggie Menderski writes about what makes Louisville, Southern Indiana and Kentucky unique, wonderful, and occasionally, a little weird. If you’ve got something in your family, your town or even your closet that fits that description — she wants to hear from you. Say hello at email@example.com or 502-582-4053.