New: The Bourbon Classic

Bardstown has the Kentucky Bourbon Festival. Now, Louisville has the Bourbon Classic.

The Classic, touted as “a connoisseur’s weekend celebrating all things bourbon” and intended to become an annual event, will debut March 22-23, 2013, at the Kentucky Center for the Arts and will feature a World’s Best Cocktail competition featuring mixologists from across the country; a panel showcasing master distillers; “Bourbon University” sessions on topics such as bourbon and food pairings and entertaining with bourbon; and tastings of fine bourbons and gourmet food.

“This will be an experience like no other – a showcase of the art and enjoyment of bourbon,” Tony Butler of FSA Management said as he and The Bourbon Review announced the Classic at a Wednesday afternoon cocktail party in the Center’s lobby. With its rich bourbon heritage and sophisticated bar and restaurant landscape, Louisville is “the ideal host city” for such an event, he said.

The Urban Bourbon Trail is the Classic’s welcoming sponsor; other sponsors are Buffalo Trace, Blanton’s, Four Roses, Maker’s Mark, Michter’s, Old Forester and Woodford Reserve.

To give “a taste of what’s in store in March,” as the Review’s Seth Thompson put it (disclosure: I’m a regular contributor to the magazine), 610 Magnolia chef and “Top Chef” finalist Edward Lee prepared a salad with rock shrimp, sorghum croutons and bourbon vinaigrette, while Silver Dollar co-owner Larry Rice and bartender Susie Hoyt created a welcome punch using Old Charter 10-year-old; an Old Fashioned with Four Roses; and a Bourbon Buck using Weller Antique and ginger beer.

Tickets for the inaugural Bourbon Classic are now on sale at $135 standard/$175 VIP for Friday’s events and $155/$195 for Saturday’s. Packages are also available. For all the details, visit

Photos: Top, Chef Ed Lee and Bourbon Barrel Foods’ Matt Jamie prepare the salads. Center, Silver Dollar’s Larry Rice and Susie Hoyt at the bar. Bottom, Justin and Seth Thompson, co-publishers of The Bourbon Review.

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