If Kentucky is the center of the bourbon universe (hint: it is!), and Louisville is the traditional heart of the industry thanks to the city’s numerous distilleries, company headquarters and fantastic whiskey bars, then the Bourbon Classic must be Ground Zero of American whiskey. This year’s events will be held Wednesday through Saturday, February 26-29. The Bourbon Classic is co-produced by FSA Management Group and The Bourbon Review, one of the premier magazines covering the business and culture of bourbon. The organizers have invited some of the most notable luminaries in the industry ranging from master distillers, brand representatives, chefs from whiskey-centric restaurants and talented mixologists to educate and entertain guests from across the country.
The events range from intimate tasting events pairing rare whiskeys like Pappy Van Winkle with food prepared by James Beard award finalist chef Cassidee Dabney to a Culinary & Cocktail Challenge where bartenders will be paired with chefs to create the perfect pairings of drinks and small plates, to the Bourbon Classic’s signature TASTE, a gala tasting featuring the opportunity to meet with the master distillers who create your favorite bourbons while enjoying bites prepared by featured restaurants paired with even more cocktails. It’s a good thing that the 21C Museum Hotel is right around the corner, as the partner hotel of the Bourbon Classic will be the perfect place to sleep off all those cocktails in the lap of luxury. Just remember before you go to sleep that it’s perfectly normal to run into a large penguin in the halls of a 21C Hotel.
The Bourbon Classic will also offer educational events to raise your whiskey IQ as part of their Bourbon University program on Saturday prior to the big tasting event. Each of two afternoon sessions will offer four different classes to pick from covering topics like bourbon cocktails, food pairing and barrel-finishing. The dress code for the Friday and Saturday evening events is snappy casual, so pack your snazzy duds and make your way to Louisville for the Bourbon Classic. Tickets for individual events or weekend packages are still on sale at the festival website.