From Tuesday, September 15th to Sunday September 20th, Bardsville, Kentucky will be throwing the biggest party around.
If you have never visited the Kentucky Bourbon Festival, the schedule can be very daunting. While the entire festival is a great experience, staying focused on the best events of the schedule can maximize your festival experience without running you ragged. With that in mind, here are our top picks for what to do at the Kentucky Bourbon Festival.
The Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History
The Oscar Getz Museum (free admission, donations accepted) houses a fascinating collection of bourbon industry ephemera. From stills to old bottles to historic pictures, the Getz Museum is worth a stop and provides some much needed quiet time among the hustle and bustle of the rest of the festival. Be sure to hit the gift shop to pick up some unique and historical souvenirs.
Exploring the Flavors of Bourbon
Thursday, September 17th
Festival goers should make a point to attend “Exploring the Flavors of Bourbon” ($60). Join Woodford Reserve Master Distiller Chris Morris, Woodford’s Chef in Residence Ouita Mitchell and the chef from My Old Kentucky Dinner train as they discuss the flavors that can be found in America’s native spirit and discuss how to pair bourbon with food. This is a ticket that is a great value for the experience, and Chris Morris is one of the most knowledgeable and insightful people in the bourbon industry.
Music on the Lawn
Both bourbon and festivals are a lot better when there is music playing. Thanks to Four Roses, “Music on the Lawn” provides great, free entertainment, and a chance to relax. Our picks for this year include the Blind Corn Liquor Pickers (Friday at 7:15pm), headliners the Kentucky Headhunters (Saturday 9:30 pm), and the 10th Street Blues Band (Sunday 1pm).
The Ancient Craft of Barrel Making
September 19th -20th
One of the most interesting events of the festival is also free to the public. The barrel making demonstration is held on the Spalding Hall Lawn on the weekend of September 19th and 20th. Artisans from Independent Stave Company will show off their skills in the ancient art of coopering. While you may not have spent much time thinking about the art of barrel making, watching these master craftsmen in action should be on everyone’s to do list.
Kentucky Bourbon Breakfast
Saturday September 19th
The fine folks at St. Catharine College host the Kentucky Bourbon Breakfast ($5 advance, $6 at the door). Bourbon coffee and pancakes with bourbon butter and bourbon maple syrup share center stage at this casual breakfast. It’ll fill you up and get you ready for a full day at the festival. Be warned though, if you overindulge the night before, you may not want to smell all the bourbon in the room first thing. Don’t worry though, just ask for your bourbon coffee first, step outside and get right with a bit of the hair of the dog before heading in for your pancakes.
Great Kentucky Bourbon Tasting and Gala
Of course, no visit to the Kentucky Bourbon Festival is complete without attending the Kentucky Bourbon Tasting and Gala ($175). This is the preeminent event of the festival and provides a chance to meet and talk with bourbon industry greats as well as enjoy the opportunity to taste some of the finest bourbons in Kentucky.
This black tie affair is the crown jewel of the festival and worth every penny of the price. In the past, extremely rare bourbons and unique whiskeys have been available for tasting. For the best tasting experience, walk through the festival and note the bourbons that you’d like to try, then prioritize your list and start at the top. Don’t worry, there is plenty of bourbon for everyone at this gala.