If you like bourbon, you’d be hard-pressed to find a cocktail party better than the Great Kentucky Bourbon Tasting & Gala, the signature event of the Kentucky Bourbon Festival in Bardstown, Ky. Held Saturday night at the Guthrie Opportunity Center, it provided an opportunity to sample the wares of eight Kentucky distilleries and two brands, meet master distillers and brand ambassadors and collect glassware in a Woodford Reserve totebag.
The black-tie evening continued with a buffet dinner, a toast with 1792 Ridgemont Reserve Small Batch and dancing into the wee hours, but the tasting was the main draw, and it was pretty intense. It may seem like a crime to pour out good bourbon, but I had to hold myself to just a sip or two of some of the samples in order to make it through even a fraction of the lineup. The evening’s superlatives:
Best bourbon I sampled: Parker’s Heritage Collection Cognac-Finish Bourbon (center, below), to be released in October.
Best bourbon in a dessert: Kentucky Woods Bourbon Barrel Cake made with Blanton’s
Best bourbon as a dessert: Maker’s 46 Milkshake
Best outfit: Maker’s Mark’s Bill Samuels Jr., below with the Bourbon Babe
Best cocktail: Michter’s
Best glassware: With rounded bottoms, Blanton’s rocks glasses really do rock.
The haul, below: