The Bourbon Guys attended the second annual Bourbon Classic in Louisville Kentucky last weekend, and after a week of recovering we wanted to give you a brief rundown of the highlights of this great event. We would also like to compare this year’s Bourbon Classic to last year’s inaugural Bourbon Classic.
The Bourbon Classic is an annual event that takes place in Louisville and draws Bourbon lovers from all over the country. The two-day event opened on Friday night with a cocktail oriented event and concluded on Saturday with break out sessions that led to an awesome evening of fine food and of course great Bourbon.
Though we weren’t able to make it to the opening night cocktail event, we were told that the event, named “From the Barrel to the Bar,” was once again a great success. We were told that the mixologists prepared excellent drinks to accompany the fine food prepared by many different and well-known chefs.
The main event began on Saturday afternoon at the main theatre when a gathering of some legendary master distillers along with some up and comers to the bourbon industry met for a panel discussion about the Bourbon industry.
The distillers on hand were Wes Henderson (Angel’s Envy), Jimmy Russell (Wild Turkey), Harlen Wheatley (Buffalo Trace), Fred Noe (Jim Beam), Drew Kulsveen (Willett), Willie Pratt (Michters), Tom Bulleit (Bulleit), Colin Spoelman (King’s County Distillery), Dave Schmier (Redemption) and Daniel Preston (Widow Jane). The moderator of the panel discussion was Fred Minnick (Author for the KentuckyDerbyMuseum). Fred Minnick effectively spread around questions to different master distillers. Some of the questions managed to create a good bid of tension among the panel, especially the question regarding the non-distilling bourbon companies and sourced whiskey. That was one reason why this year’s master distiller session was much better than last year’s. The moderator was a better interviewer than last year’s moderator and the format of questioning was much better than last year’s as well. We hope they stick to the same format next year.
After the master distiller’s session ended, the BourbonClassicUniversity sessions began. The sessions covered various bourbon focused topics such as “Entertaining with Bourbon Tastings,” “Bourbon Reflections… A Trip Through Time” and “Exploring the Creative, Culinary Side of Bourbon.” These sessions, just like last year’s, were excellent and very informative. We actually wish we could have attended a few more sessions.
The few samples of Bourbon that we tasted during the BourbonClassicUniversity sessions helped set the stage for the main event, called “The Ultimate Bourbon Experience.” Similar to last year’s event, there was a lavish spread of food, including pork loin and roast beef along with many other delectable dishes and plenty of Bourbon! Our favorite of the dishes was a tie between the mushroom capped sausage balls and the corn pudding. The food at this year’s Classic was very tasty, but we did feel that the food at last year’s event was a tad better.
While the food was a highlight, the real reason we were there was for the Bourbon. The selection at “The Ultimate Bourbon Experience” was excellent once again. Bourbon tastings were available from brands such as Willett, Buffalo Trace, Wild Turkey, Jefferson’s Reserve, Jim Beam and others. There were, however, some notable omissions to this year’s event. Heaven Hill was not at the event and neither were Four Roses, Makers Mark or Town Branch. This was a little disappointing as we really enjoy some of the offerings from these distilleries, particularly Four Roses and Heaven Hill. Though we feel that last year’s bourbon selections overall were a little better, there was still plenty of bourbon for the tasting this year.
This year’s Classic came to a close at 9:30 p.m. Saturday, and the most notable omission of all was the lack of a public after party. Last year’s event wrapped up with a great closing party hosted by Four Roses. This gave all attendees the opportunity to unwind and relish new friendships and memories of the good time that we all had. This year we had to create our own after party (which actually was fantastic among our group of friends).
Even though we feel that last year’s Bourbon Classic was overall a little better than this year’s, we still had a great time at the 2014 Bourbon Classic and we are already looking forward to next year!