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Why I go to the Kentucky Bourbon Festival

Posted on by Eric Burke

Last week, I went to Kentucky to do a little shopping...go to the Kentucky Bourbon Festival in Bardstown, KY.

You might ask, “Eric, you’ve been there before why keep going back?” And honestly, I’ve asked myself that very question. I tend to go to the same events. I visit the same stores and gift shops. To be honest, I don’t even consume that much whiskey. In fact, I almost didn’t go this year. We already had a trip planned for late August and didn’t think that we’d be able to go on another one that soon.

But the more I got to thinking about it, the more I realized that it isn’t the events or even the shopping that brings me back every year. Sure the couple of events I go to every year, I go to because I have a good time. And yes, I could have paid a good chunk of my mortgage with the amount of money I spent on whiskey in those four days. But the real reason is the people. I’ve made a lot of friends going to BourbonFest. I missed a couple of them this year, but I met new ones as well. 

I like to go to the All-Star Sampler™. Distilleries, big and small, are are pouring whiskey. And I see a lot of people there. Some I see every year and I almost always spend much more time talking with friends, old and new, than I do drinking. 

I like to go to Let’s Talk Bourbon™ at Four Roses every year both because it is at Four Roses and because it is always different. It always starts out the same, but the question and answer session always goes in directions you couldn’t anticipate. Plus this year we got to hear from new Master Distiller, Brent Elliot in addition to Jim Rutledge and Al Young.

The best event though is one it costs nothing to attend. Even though it might turn out to be the most expensive one you go to if you aren’t careful. And that is the Master Distiller’s Auction at the Oscar Getz museum. (I’ll have a full post about that one coming soon.)

Toss in the festival, the barrel races, the spirit garden and the crafts for sale on the lawn and it is a very good time. No, you probably won’t be wowed by the whiskey that is poured. It’s mostly the stuff you can walk into any store and grab on the shelf for under $30. But you know what? There is something to be said for sitting under a tree with a glass of old Grand-dad 114 talking to people who share your love of whiskey and your knowledge that friends are the best thing you can find in Kentucky.


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