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Kentucky Bourbon Festival 2017: Bottled in Bond Fire

Posted on by Eric Burke

I state in my Statement of Ethics that if I am reviewing something that I didn't pay for, I will disclose it at the beginning of the article. I received media passes to this event for both myself and my wife

Warm and sunny. The perfect late summer Kentucky day. It's too bad it was our last day in Bardstown because it's days like those that make me never want to leave. And I was extremely excited to go to the Bottled in Bond Fire event that night. It seemed like it would be the perfect end to the trip. 

Historically, Saturday night was reserved for the Gala, a formal event. And since the last time I was voluntarily in a tux was my wedding day 20 years previous, let's just say I am never going to be covering the Gala. Not my speed. I'm a bourbon around the fire sort of guy. Not a bourbon in a rented outfit sort of guy.

So yes, when they introduced the Bottled in Bond Fire event last year, I was pretty stoked. I didn't go, as it was introduced after I had purchased my tickets, but I was pretty sure I wanted to go this year. And as things worked out, I got media credentials to the event. 

The Bottled in Bond Fire event is held at Wickland, Home of Three Governors. Wickland is an old Bardstown home (oddly the home of three different Kentucky Governors) which is available for tours and events. I had never visited before and was excited to see some of the details of the old house. When we first entered we were greeted by the check-in station and the food line. The event was serving barbecue, beans, and slaw. Perfect food for a bonfire.

Off to the right was a sitting area. Comfortable chairs and the featured speaker of the evening, Susan Reigler, Prsident of the Bourbon Women. Ms. Reigler was around to answer any bourbon questions that guests might have. 

Off to the left of the main entrance was the Bourbon Room. Here, four distilleries were pouring mostly bonded bourbons. Buffalo Trace brought Colonel E.H. Taylor Small Batch and Single Barrel, Both Bottled in Bond.

As is to be expected, Heaven Hill brought the most options to an event featuring Bonded products. They even brought one surprise...

I wasn't really expecting to see their Bonded Brandy, Sacred Bond, being poured at a Bourbon Festival. But it was and I tried it. It was fine, nothing to write home about. 

Barton was only pouring Very Old Barton Bonded. Which is fine by me. VOB Bonded is my go-to bourbon for the hotel room or cabin when I'm in Kentucky. 

Four Roses was a bit of a surprise for me. Seeing as they have no bonded products. There were no representatives there, but they did have Small Batch and Single Barrel on hand.

Obviously, the fires were outside. There were also tables to eat at, bean bag toss and live music.

The live music was provided by The Echoes, a Louisville trio. I enjoyed the music. It fit the mood of the event perfectly. I really hope someone thought to bring them a bourbon or two.

Since I had never been there before, they were nice enough to let me wander the house and go upstairs. Knowing that they offer ghost tours of the place, I was curious to go take a look. I didn't see any ghosts, but the empty old rooms in the light of the twilight were certainly a bit creepy. On the way down, I got a better view of the food and entrance area.

It wouldn't be a bonfire without s'mores. And although I'm guessing that liability concerns wouldn't allow people to toast their own, my wife tells me the desserts inspired by them were a very tasty substitute.

So, final verdict. I thought it was a decent event. My wife loved it. It was fun, the people were talkative, the bourbon was tasty, and the music was entertaining. Everything that you would want. All in all, I will probably drop the $75 to go as a paying guest next year so that I can enjoy myself a little more (hard to really relax when everyone thinks you work there due to the press credentials around your neck).


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