Last call: Kentucky Bourbon Festival

Some final thoughts on the 20th annual Kentucky Bourbon Festival:

I like that if you take Ky. 245 off I-65 to get to Bardstown, you pass two bourbon-related attractions: the Jim Beam Distillery, which on Friday was hard at work, sending the wonderfully yeasty smell of mash into the air,

and Bernheim Forest, a 14,000-acre gift to the people of Kentucky from whiskey distiller Isaac W. Bernheim, who created the I.W. Harper brand.

I like that you also pass the famous Rooster Run General Store on your way into Bardstown. (It has no bourbon connection I’m aware of; I just wanted to use this photo of the big rooster.)

I like that for almost a week, the Kentucky Bourbon Festival draws national and international attention to one of our state’s finest products. But why stop at a week?

I would love to see an additional bourbon-focused event added to the calendar – not to compete with the Kentucky Bourbon Festival, but to complement it. With the growing popularity of bourbon and interest in fine dining using local ingredients, there is a tremendous opportunity for a connoisseurs’ weekend in Louisville, perhaps in the early spring. Our fantastic local chefs could wow visitors with top-notch bourbon-infused menu items expertly paired with bourbon selections and cocktails that our master distillers could introduce.

This could be bourbon’s version of Toast of the Town, an annual wine tasting/fine dining gala sponsored by Wine Enthusiast magazine in cities like New York, Chicago, Washington and San Francisco. With samplings of select wines and gourmet dishes and a chance to mingle with the wine makers and restaurateurs, these events draw oenophiles and foodies alike. 

Many Louisville chefs are already nationally known, and our Kentucky master distillers are rock stars in the spirits industry. Let’s bring them together and let them shine.

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The Bourbon Babe

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