One of the nation's premier bourbon events is returning within driving distance of Cincinnati (... not that anyone should necessarily be driving after partaking in a bourbon event). The second annual Bourbon Classic comes to Louisville next weekend — Jan. 31-Feb. 1 — offering world-class culinary and bartending talent.
The event is open to bourbon enthusiasts from across the country and will feature forums addressing all aspects of bourbon ranging from its distillation to how to pair it with food and more, with information from leading bourbon distillers, writers, chefs, bartenders, experts and connoisseurs.
“This event is a natural progression in what we do to promote the bourbon lifestyle," says Seth Thompson, publisher of The Bourbon Review and co-founder of the Bourbon Classic, in a press release. "The craftsmanship, the authenticity, the traditions and marry that with the eclectic epicurean culture of Central Kentucky."
The weekend program is split into two parts: Friday night's Cocktail Challenge and Saturday's Bourbon Classic University and Ultimate Bourbon Experience.
The Cocktail Challenge will feature contemporary and classic cocktails plus small plates prepared by teams of chefs and master bartenders representing different distilleries. Cocktails and pairings will be judged by an expert panel including Jennifer Cole from Southern Living, Joy Perrine from Jack’s Lounge and chef Albert Schmid, author of The Kentucky Bourbon Cookbook. Participating teams include the following:
Bradley Hammond, Decca
Chef Terry French, winner of Food Network’s Extreme Chef 2012, Philadelphia
Chris Wilkins, Proof on Main
Chef Levon Wallace, Proof on Main
Colin Shearn, El Camino
Chef Jonathan Lundy, Jonathan's at Gratz Park, Lexington
Isaac Fox, Volare
Chef Josh Moore, Volare
JR Schiavi, Jack Fry's
Chef Shawn Ward, Jack Fry's
Susie Hoyt, Silver Dollar
Chef Tyler Powell, Silver Dollar
Jacquelyn Zykan, La Coop
Chef Bobby Benjamin, La Coop
The Saturday learning portion will focus on education, entertainment and tastings.
The welcome session will feature master distillers and brand legends including Wes Henderson of Angel’s Envy, Fred Noe of Jim Beam, Harlen Wheatley of Buffalo Trace, Tom Bulleit of Bulleit Bourbon and more, discussing the rising popularity of bourbon and the effect it has on distilleries.
Following the welcome, the Bourbon Classic University will offer a variety of classes split into two learning sessions for ticket-holders to explore. The first session includes classes like "Entertaining with Bourbon Tastings" and the second offers "Bourbon & the Bean: What do Chocolate & American Whiskey Have in Common." (A full list of classes and a schedule is available online.)
After the university, participate in "the ultimate bourbon experience." Enjoy bourbon tastings from Bourbon Classic distillers, many of which will have representatives on hand to discuss what makes their product unique. As you imbibe, you'll also enjoy dishes that have been specially prepared to complement the bourbon as well as a unique marketplace full of bourbon-related products.
7-10 p.m. Friday, Jan. 31; 2:30-9:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2. Standard weekend packages for the Cocktail Challenge and University/Ultimate Bourbon Experience start at $249. Tickets available here. All events take place at the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts, 501 W. Main St., Louisville, Ky. For more information on the Bourbon Classic, visit bourbonclassic.com.