Justins' House of Bourbon
If there is such a thing as "bourbon bromance", I may have just discovered it. This isn't a typical bourbon distillery tour - this is a bourbon and whiskey store tour. And if that sounds a little crazy, you haven't experienced the "kid in the candy store" feeling of walking through Justins’ House of Bourbon.
Eye Candy for Days
Let's start with the name. No, I didn't miss the auto-correct. This store is actually owned by two Justins - Justin Sloan and Justin Thompson. Both began collecting bourbon a decade ago. You might recognize Justin T, as he was one of the founders of The Bourbon Review magazine as it launched in 2008, just as bourbon was beginning its resurgence
While many liquor stores carry a wide variety of spirits, what makes Justins' unique are unique special releases and vintage bourbons - all available for sale. For years, the purchase or sale of dusties (old, dusty, vintage bottles often found at estate sales) was illegal in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. With the passing of House Bill 100 - the vintage spirits law - the path was opened for licensed establishments to buy and re-sell these one-of-a-kind products.
The current Lexington establishment was opened in February 2018 and is a must-stop on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. While you may see some great finds either in-person or through a phone call with an employee, Kentucky law only allows shipments to 8 areas: Arizona, Hawaii, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode Island, and Washington, D.C.
Once inside, you'll find the main area of the store dedicated to a wide variety of traditional spirits and special releases. The day we visited, we snagged a great local single barrel pick from New Riff in Northern Kentucky. To the left is a bar area that allows purveyors a special pour (for an equally special price) of unique, hard-to-find, and even vintage bourbons. While there was a full Pappy line-up, I also noted some extra aged releases from Evan Williams and a vintage bottle of Austin Nichol's original Wild Turkey brand.
To the left of the main room, you'll find awe-inspiring cabinets full of the spirits and brands that, for many, have only been seen in vintage photographs and advertisements. A wide variety of brands and whiskeys are available for viewing or purchase.
Behind the sales counter, and behind a speakeasy-style door, lies a bourbon library and tasting room for special events.
While we toured their Lexington location at 601 W. Main St, there is also a location in Louisville. Hours and days are limited, so plan your visit accordingly. The next time I'm in town, it's on my list to visit again and shop and sip.