veryone needs a vacation, and there’s no better place in the world than Kentucky. OK, that might be an exaggeration, but they have amazing food and millions of barrels of bourbon, it making pretty much heaven on Earth. And if your liver takes you down to the paradise city, Louisville, the Bourbon Classic is where you want to be.
The Bourbon Classic is a celebration of all things bourbon, from sipping your way through the entire Pappy family to pairing bourbon country ham and chocolate. The week-long whiskey extravaganza, put on by the fine gentleman behind The Bourbon Review, starts February 28th and culminates with the titular event on Saturday, March 4th. Eating and drinking are the primary goals, but there is plenty of education to go around.
Tuesday – Bourbon Classic TOP SHELF
The festivities kick off in style with the prince of whales, Preston Van Winkle. The night features pours of Pappy Van Winkle 10, 12, 15, and 20 alongside food from Chef Bobby Benjamin of Butchertown Grocery. Last year, Husk’s Sean Brock held the tongs and made it a night to remember, and Chef Benjamin is sure to do the same in 2017.
Thursday Option 1 – Bourbon Classic SAVOR
New Orleans’ permanent Grand Marshall, Dickie Brennan, teams up with Maker’s Mark to bring Bourbon Street to Bourbon County. Taken an after-hours tour of the distiller followed by four courses of creole cuisine paired with bourbon cocktails. Dickie Brennan played host to my wedding’s welcome dinner last November, and it was a the perfect start.
Thursday Option 2 – Bourbon Classic BOTTLED IN BOND Anniversary
If you like your whiskey with a side of learning, check out this bourbon history lesson with Old Forester. Discover the rule that rid us of rotgut, the 1897 Bottled in Bond Act, and how bonded bourbon is making a huge comeback. Oh, and you get to drink Old Forester’s Whiskey Row Series.
Friday – Bourbon Classic Cocktail & Culinary Challenge
This one one of the highlights for me last year. Eight bartenders pair up with eight chefs and eight distilleries to test their pairing prowess. Each creates trio creates and cocktail and small plate entry, and you get to try them all. Don’t worry, you don’t have to pick a favorite. That onus is on the panel of judges.
Saturday – Daytime – Bourbon Classic University
It’s an exciting time for the bourbon industry, and there’s a million things to learn. There are three sessions and 9 different potential classes/lectures to sit in on. Highlights last year included a history of cocktails with Paul Clarke, a panel of the rising stars in the distiller world, and a mega-panel of masters distillers discussing everything putting weed in whiskey to what it means to be a master distiller.
Saturday – Night – Bourbon Classic TASTE
The grandaddy of responsible debauchery. Pick up your tasting glass and drink everything in site. Unlike most whiskey events though, you’ll actually get to meet the master distillers instead of some rep who’s getting paid in bourbon. Feel free to ask questions, meet your heroes, and have a great time. It’s back to reality the next morning, so be sure to make the most of it!
— Colin Joliat (@Boozist) February 27, 2016