Bourbon on the Belle

You are probably aware that the Kentucky Derby is run the first Saturday in May. But if you’re not here in Louisville, you may not realize that the Derby festivities stretch out for two weeks leading up to the Greatest Two Minutes in Sports.

The Kentucky Derby Festival kicks off tomorrow with Thunder Over Louisville, an airshow and fireworks extravaganza that will make getting into or out of downtown next to impossible. You can find out more here.

But today I want to tell you about a Derby Festival event with a bourbon connection: the Great Steamboat Race. This year’s race, on May 2, will feature three competitors – the hometown favorite Belle of Louisville; the Belle of Cincinnati; and the American Queen, the largest steamboat ever built, which will be traveling from New Orleans.

Passengers aboard all three boats will enjoy a tasting of Four Roses bourbon, made in Lawrenceburg, Ky. – including a sample of a special 8-year-old single-barrel bourbon selected just for this event. Master Distiller Jim Rutledge will lead the tasting on the Belle of Louisville. I’ll be there too, and for once, I may not mind that unlike the Run for the Roses, this is one of the most leisurely “races” on record.

Tickets on the Belle of Cincinnati are $75 per person ($55 for cruise only). Tickets for the Belle of Louisville are $130 each and are going fast. To purchase, call the Derby Festival office at (502) 584-FEST or click here

Don’t like boats? You can still meet Rutledge, and taste the specially chosen Four Roses Single Barrel, at a party at the Galt House’s Jockey Silks Bourbon Bar following the steamboat race. “Social at Silks,” from 7 to 10 p.m., is free and open to the public and will feature hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar. A limited number of bottles of the special Four Roses will be sold, and the first 100 people to arrive will receive a Four Roses Derby gift.  

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The Bourbon Babe