The Barrel,’ a creative urban attraction designating the intersection of Fourth and Main Streets as the center of the Bourbon District is a gathering space for visitors to the Bourbon District, as well as serves as a new and exciting showpiece to celebrate the bourbon renaissance in Downtown Louisville. The iconic Barrel joins the ranks of local public art, much like the bat at the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory and David at 21C Museum Hotel, the Barrel on Main is a must-do photo-opp activity in Downtown Louisville.
Barrel on Main launched the second phase of the Bourbon District and is meant to be walked through as if one is passing through the entire history of the bourbon industry, it is the metaphorical entrance to the Bourbon District and it is a public welcome arc to all who visit Downtown and the Bourbon District for a little Bourbonism™.
Barrel on Main has five hoops — the two smallest hoops are 9’3” in height, 11’3” in width, progressing to two larger hoops that are 10’3” in height and 13’4” in width, with the middle hoop reaching 11’3” in height and 15’4” in width. The 11-foot-tall interpretation of a bourbon barrel offers a path through ‘The Barrel’ for all to enjoy, and is fully ADA-compliant.
The materials used to create the welcoming work of art are inspired and influenced by those of actual oak barrels used to store and age our local spirits. The Barrel hoops and staves are made of cast concrete with a faux wood engrain. To achieve this level of accuracy, custom wood slabs were pressed into the concrete to give it an authentic wooden texture but a lasting, strong surface. The outside is reinforced with corten steel lining, reflecting the metal hoops used on a bourbon barrel. The inside of each hoop is lined with black powder-coated aluminum, imitating the char found in barrels after they are fired, an essential step in the bourbon-making process.
Featuring historic signs, destination signs, banners, and pop-up event space, the Bourbon District is a collaborative effort led by LDP, Louisville Metro Government, the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau (LCVB), and the Louisville Water Company, in cooperation with Downtown’s bourbon community.
The renaissance of bourbon has sparked tourism and development in Downtown Louisville, we like to call Bourbonism™. Louisville’s long history with bourbon originated in the mid to late 1700s, as a way to preserve local grains and distill some of the first recipes for “America’s Native Spirit.” It wouldn’t be until 1783, when Evan Williams opened his distillery on the banks of the Ohio River in Louisville, that would mark the first of Kentucky’s many commercial distilleries.
It has only been in the last decade that bourbon tourism, now coined officially as Bourbonism™ would become a premier signature industry drawing $9 billion into the state economy every year and generating more than 22,500 jobs with $1.23 billion in payroll as well as becoming a defining point of our city’s authenticity. We believe the Bourbon District helps share this cultural heritage with locals and visitors and enhances their appreciation of Louisville’s unique destination experience.
“Bourbonism™ is thriving in Downtown Louisville, with four distillery experiences already open, and three more slated to open within the year. Our hope is that ‘The Barrel’ becomes an iconic landmark photographed and shared all over the world, further defining Louisville as the home of the bourbon industry,” said Mayor Greg Fischer.
LDP drives economic growth in Downtown and adjacent central-city neighborhoods for the benefit of the entire region, as well as oversees multiple on-street enhancements that help establish Downtown Louisville’s distinctive character and widespread appeal. LDP believes the economic engine of any great city starts with a strong Downtown. For more information, go to: LouisvilleDowntown.org.