Personified with Jeff Crowe
Jeff Crowe is the director of Kentucky Experiences at the Heaven Hill distillery in Louisville.
He joined Heaven Hill in August 2013 as the General Manager of the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, a multi-million-dollar artisanal distillery that celebrates the legacy of Evan Williams, Kentucky’s first commercial distiller and the Bourbon Heritage Center.
A graduate of Eastern Kentucky University, Jeff is a Kentucky Certified Main Street Manager, a Tourism Marketing Professional and a Certified Economic Development Professional.
As a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community, he currently resides in London, Kentucky, home to the World Chicken Festival. He loves this area because it keeps him in the heart of Kentucky with a small-town atmosphere, but close enough to larger cities for when he needs a night out on the town.
We caught up with Jeff to talk all things Kentucky: the perfect day, the best spot for brunch, and the best ways to experience the famed Bourbon Trail.
1. For first timers, can you explain what the Bourbon Trail experience is and all that it entails? How far does it reach?
The Kentucky Bourbon Trail® is sometimes misunderstood by consumers when they learn about it for the first time. The word “trail” makes it feel like you can walk place to place when this trail is all about distillery experiences located miles apart from the far corners across Kentucky. This trail includes over 17 main distilleries not including the growing number of Craft Distilleries.
Every distillery has their own story, and you should plan to be at each location for a minimum of two hours to enjoy the education, the shopping, and tastings. Be sure to plan your trip in advance as the geography of Kentucky may show these facilities close on a map but far in mileage and winding, curvy roads.
2. What can an LGBTQ+ person expect when they experience the Bourbon Trail? Will they be safe and welcomed?
Every distillery on the KBT is a welcoming experience for all consumers. Southern hospitality is a top priority across our beautiful commonwealth and Kentuckians make everyone feel safe and welcomed.
3. As a traveler, what would your personal favorite choice of accommodation be when exploring the Bourbon Trail?
As a traveler, my husband and I prefer boutique style hotels such as The Grady in downtown Louisville. Hotels with a beautiful bar for us to relax after an exciting day of visiting the locations along the KBT®. If you stay in Louisville or Bardstown, you will have the opportunity to visit several distillery experiences while “hub and spoking” from your accommodations.
4. Let's talk about food! What are three must-eat places in Kentucky when we're visiting?
As a foodie, I cannot give you specific names of food establishments. We are in Kentucky…enjoy Kentucky inspired foods: Kentucky Hot Brown, Benedictine, Fried Chicken, Bourbon infused food. We make the world’s best Bourbons here in Kentucky, but our culinary offerings are in the same ranks.
5. What’s your perfect Kentucky day?
My perfect day in Kentucky is to start the day off with a brisk walk with our two huskies—Abigail and Oliver—along the forest line around our farm in London, KY. Quickly heading out to the Local Honey (a London hot spot for food) for Brunch with a few Bourbon Mary’s (Bloody Mary w/Bourbon).
We would then do a non-planned road trip to a surrounding town just to see what type of happenings are going on from festivals to live music or just a quiet afternoon of shopping. The close to our day would be a night in our very own kitchen.
My husband and I are working on a cookbook called BoozyBourbonChefs and many nights we grab a great bottle of Elijah Craig Bourbon and sip on a glass while we create a new dish for dinner and the cookbook.
6. What is your absolute favorite brunch spot in Kentucky?
My absolute favorite brunch spot in Kentucky is my very own backyard patio where I can whip us some amazing food and grab a cocktail. But if I had to choose a location for Brunch it would be The Local Honey; London Kentucky for their great spin on Kentucky classics and how they embrace the Bourbon cocktails.
7. Favorite hidden gem? The place or activity you do that you rarely see written or spoken about?
My favorite hidden gem in Kentucky is the Fitchburg Furnace located in Ravenna, Kentucky. It was the last charcoal smelting furnace built in America in 1868. It is considered the largest charcoal furnace in the world. History of Kentucky and learning of our past is what makes me love this area.
8. What is your favorite distillery in the state and why?
Well, this is an easy question. Heaven Hill Distillery is by far my favorite. Not just because I work for them but because they are a true “rags to riches” story. Heaven Hill is family owned and American owned company with 86 years in business. They are leaders in the industry while also being a silent supporter of so many charities, community initiatives and other philanthropic opportunities.
8. Describe your perfect Kentucky romantic date. Where would you go and what would you do?
A perfect date for Todd (husband) and I is a day on the lake fishing. I am not a fisherman but love to enjoy all the beauty the lakes of Kentucky offer while enjoying conversation with him. We don’t need fancy meal or surroundings to enjoy our time together. Many days it can be just a cooler filled with sandwiches, cookies and Diet Coke. Some days we never throw the first cast. We just ride the water and relax. (But every evening ends with a glass of Kentucky Bourbon at our house)
9. Are there any resources LGBTQ+ travelers should consult before visiting?
I always recommend for everyone, whether LGBTQ+ or not to research where they are visiting prior to planning a trip. Every community has some type of online resource to help you learn more about their towns and offerings. But if you want a quick place to find all things Kentucky visit: www.kentuckytourism.com or
Written by Richie Goff