Finding a unique place to stay around Bardstown, Kentucky — the world’s bourbon capital — is weirdly hard to do. There are some chain hotels and a handful of Airbnbs and … that’s pretty much it. There’s a real dearth of options for anyone looking for a bespoke and one-of-a-kind experience in the heart of bourbon country. That’s why the brand-new The Samuels House (the family behind Maker’s Mark) just outside of Bardstown is such a needed addition to the local scene.
Before we get into the details of the property, let’s get into the history of the house a little bit. The house was built by the Samuels family in 1820. The Samuels were pivotal figures in the area. They hosted the surrender of the James Gang guerillas after the Civil War at the house, for instance. The house was the home to generations of the family while also being a meeting place for the Beams and Van Winkle clans who were also making bourbon in the area back in the day. In short, this is real, living Kentucky and bourbon history under one roof.
Add in that it’s in horse country (the property is a small two-acre horse farm), and you have something that oozes everything you want from a Kentucky trip. The house today — which opened in September of 2021 — is also an altar to one of the most important women in bourbon history but let’s get into that while we list why this place is so dope.
WHY IT’S AWESOME:
It’s hard to find anything that even comes close to this experience in Kentucky. The Samuels House is a bit of a time machine on its own. When you walk into the dining room (off the kitchen), you’re greeted with a mural that was painted in the late 1800s by a member of the family that maps out what the area around Bardstown was like around the Civil War. You could spend 30 minutes just taking in this old piece of folk art before even getting drawn into the rest of the history on display in the house.
A true highlight is the centerpiece of the family room. Above the mantle, a portrait of Marjorie “Margie” Samuels draws you in. Margie was one of the most important figures in Kentucky bourbon in the 20th century and was instrumental in creating Maker’s Mark as we know it today. She came up with the name, designed the label, and even implemented the iconic red wax dip. Below her portrait, you’ll see the original deep fryer she used to melt the wax for bottle dipping. The house really is a celebration of Samuels’ family history in Kentucky and bourbon, but it’s Margie who’s the star of the show as one of the greatest women in the industry.
All of this is before you even get into the property, rooms, and rest of the experience. We’re really only scratching the surface here. There’s a deep history to the James brothers/gang, horse racing, and an awesome collection of Maker’s bottles that we could go on and on about. Instead, we think you should go and experience all of this yourself. If you have the extra cash, you can get Bill Samuels, Jr., one of bourbon’s true icons, to come over and give you a private talk about all of this for an extra $750.
IN-HOUSE FOOD + DRINK:
The kitchen is fitted out with the best of the best appliances and kitchenware. Generally, this is more of an Airbnb situation where you can cater your own food. If that’s not your jam, the house offers an in-house chef who’ll prepare a three-course dinner paired with three bourbon cocktails for $150 to $225/person depending on how many people you’re with and the time of the week.
The food is locally sourced, leans into farm-style cooking, and, of course, comes with classic Maker’s Manhattans and old fashioneds that are crafted with style.
When it comes to drinks, the house has a bar with a high-end ice maker and hand-blown glassware for your cocktail needs. All that you need to do is bring your own bottles and you’re good to go.
- Parlor room with custom-crafted bar and 50+ historic bottles of family-produced whisky on display.
- Stocked chef’s kitchen with gas range, fridge with premium whisky icemaker.
- Numerous Samuels family artifacts and pieces of bourbon history on display for the first time.
- Dining room with custom-designed dinnerware and glassware, adorned with the 200-year-old original mural.
- Covered porch with outdoor dining area.
- Basement media room and game lounge.
- Stone patio featuring a gas grill and fire pit.
- Whole-home WiFi.
- Nearly 3500 sq ft of space (main level, upper level, and basement).
- Set on 2-acres of mature oak trees surrounded by horse pasture.
- Ensuite bathrooms.
- 100 percent Turkish cotton towels.
- Aveda bath products.
- Iron/Ironing board.
- Smart TVs with cable access and streaming capabilities.
There are three bedrooms. Two bedrooms come with king beds, a fireplace, and old-school wardrobes. Another bedroom has a queen bed with its own bathroom as well. You can also get two single beds, meaning a crew of eight can stay in the house.
THE BEST THING TO DO WITHIN A 15 MINUTE WALK:
Since you’re smack-dab in the middle of farm country, your best bet is to walk the property. You’ll be around horses, donkeys, and mules that roam the two-plus acres. Truly, it’s postcard picturesque Kentucky horse country.
If you’re hankering for a little pizza, you can walk to Hometown Pizza. It’s about a mile away. Other than that, it’s all farms, folks.
THE BEST THING TO DO/EAT/DRINK WITHIN A $10 CAB RIDE:
Bardstown — the bourbon capital of the world — is a ten-minute cab/drive away. If you arrive earlier in the day, the whole town smells like fermenting grains. It’s a sweet and warming smell that really endears you to the town immediately.
Beyond the smell of the air, there are tons of food, bars, shopping, and liquor stores. It’s a bit of a right of passage to grab lunch at Mammy’s Kitchen (get the fried pickles, fried green tomatoes, and any of their awesome dinner plates). After you fill up on all that Southern hospitality at Mammy’s, head across to the street to the Old Talbott Tavern, which is the oldest watering hole in the state. There’s a gift shop in the foyer with a dive bar to the right. You’ll see buses of bourbon tourists drop in for a drink, but you’ll also have access to an incredible bourbon list with accessible prices. The bartenders also make a killer Manhattan with any bourbon you want. It’s a kitschy fun good time.
8/10 — The beds are Tempur-Pedic and solid enough to give you a good night’s sleep. The linens are premium Comphy sheets made from a quilted microfiber twill. They’re top quality but not mind-blowing.
7/10 — It really depends on your vibe. There’s a very “museum” aspect to this property. That being said, if you want to chill on a small horse farm in bourbon country with a James gang revolver on the wall, this is 100 percent going to be sexy to you.
9/10 — The area is like a bloody postcard with horses munching on the green grass next to those iconic horse fences with an 1800s brick house as your backdrop. Add in that you’ll see antique bottles of bourbon that certain corners of IG will salivate over and you have a very IG-friendly spot.
BEST SEASON TO VISIT:
It’s always time to drink bourbon and dig into its history. That being said, the Kentucky Bourbon Festival in Bardstown is every September and the primmest of times to stay at this house.
IF I HAD TO COMPLAIN ABOUT ONE THING:
It’s really remote and not walkable or reachable without a car. You need a car to get around Kentucky’s bourbon country anyway, but once you’re at this house, you’re there to stay.
$1,000 to $1,500 per night based on double occupancy and season.
Click here to see the availability calendar for the next six months.