“Virtual” Kentucky Bourbon Festival For 2020 Kicks Off Oct. 15

, | October 14, 2020

For 28 years, the Kentucky Bourbon Festival has happened in the Bourbon Capitol of the World, Bardstown, Ky. But thanks to the COVID-19 crisis, this year’s 29th edition has morphed into a four-day virtual affair celebrated on the Internet from Oct. 15-18.

The event will include 20 video segments centered on spirits education, discussions of bourbon milestones, cocktail making, cooking with bourbon, distilling industry stories about famous families and much more. All content is viewable online and free to registrants.

“The Kentucky Bourbon Festival (KBF) has always been in-person gathering of bourbon professionals and their fans, so we knew our work was cut out for us to turn it into a virtual event this year,” said Randy Prasse, KBF president and CEO. “Luckily for us, we had the immediate support of the industry’s best-known professionals and personalities to help us pivot quickly to create an event we can bring right into viewers’ living rooms.”

Kentucky Bourbon Festival

Places We’ve Gone: Jim Beam’s Freddie Noe and Fred Noe; moderator Steve Coomes; Wild Turkey’s Eddie Russell and Bruce Russell.

Here’s a glimpse of what viewers will see this week:

Intimate chats with bourbon “royalty”: Sit in and learn about the fun and frustrations tied to “Growing Up in a Whiskey Distilling Family” with Maker’s Mark’s Bill and Rob Samuels, and Angel’s Envy’s Wes and Kyle Henderson. In separate segment, Jim Beam’s Fred and Freddie Noe, and Wild Turkey’s Eddie and Bruce Russell will share stories about the challenges of life as bourbon ambassadors. Expect lots of laughs from both sessions.

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In-depth sessions on whiskey making: We’ve gathered 10 of the industry’s top master distillers and master tasters to discuss how American whiskeys are made. Tune into these “crash master-courses” to learn the art and science behind fermentation, distillation, aging, rickhouses and mingling from the makers of many of your favorite brands. Even if you’re bourbon savvy, expect to learn a lot here.

Rapid-fire cocktail making: Most bourbon lovers enjoy cocktails, but they don’t always know how to make them. If that’s you, don’t miss cocktailing instructional sessions from Maker’s Mark’s Thomas Bolton, Bardstown Bourbon Co.’s Samantha Montgomery and Jim Beam’s Beth Burrows. Pro tip: Visit the KBF website to get cocktail recipes for the whiskeys and ingredients they’ll use. That’ll let you buy some of them ahead of time to make and drink while watching.

A deep dive into Bottled-In-Bond: You’ve seen those words on some of your favorite American whiskey labels, but do you know the history and significance of this legislation—the highest standard of the whiskey world? These two discussions will feature a blend of 100-proof bourbon nerdiness and dedication to the craft that’ll grow your appreciation for America’s “bonded” whiskey category. ** And to extend the whiskey history theme, you don’t want to miss our session titled, “From the Shadows to the Spotlight,” which details the reemergence and resurgence of Four Roses Bourbon and Barton 1792 Distillery.

Bourbon and Kentucky cuisine: Many have cooked with bourbon before, but not everyone has gotten to see the experts use it as creatively as Christy “Mammy” Clark, chef-owner at Mammy’s Kitchen & Bar, and Stu Plush, executive chef at the Kitchen & Bar at Bardstown Bourbon Co. Plus, their recipes can be found online when you register.

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Pairing whiskey with food: We all know that sweets pair well with bourbon, but did you know that bleu cheese, cured ham, smoked salmon and pork belly do as well? Join Andrea Wilson, master of maturation at Michter’s American Whiskeys, to see how versatile America’s native spirits complement and elevate great foods.

A deep dive into vintage whiskey: Two sessions will be devoted to great stories about hunting for, collecting and even reselling great whiskeys legally. Join us when multiple experts share their knowledge on how and what to collect, as well as how to store and care for those great finds. ** And speaking of special whiskeys, you’ll not want to miss our session titled, “Single Barrels, the Real Whiskey Unicorns.”

The excitement of bourbon tourism: If you’ve not enjoyed a Kentucky bourbon tourism experience, then watch the session titled, “The Rebirth of Bourbon: Building a Tourism Economy In Small Town USA.” You’ll not only learn about what you’re missing, you’ll discover how bourbon tourism is changing the historic city of Bardstown. ** On a seperate note, most Kentucky distilleries have reopened for tours since shutting down in March. However, most are operating on a limited basis.

To register for and see the schedule for these free sessions, click here. To make the most of the virtual Kentucky Bourbon Festival, VIP tickets can be purchased by clicking here.


Steve Coomes

Steve Coomes is an award-winning journalist and book author specializing in whiskey and food. In his 30-year career, he has edited and written for national trade and consumer publications including USA Today, Southern Living, Delta Sky Magazine, Nation’s Restaurant News, Pizza Today, Restaurant Business, Bourbon + and American Whiskey magazine....