The Kentucky Bourbon Festival

From Championship Toe Wrestling to celebrating mud, there’s no shortage of bizarre festivals you can attend. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that there’s a festival dedicated to Kentucky bourbon.

Now despite the obvious need for a few days of the year to celebrate Kentucky bourbon, I didn’t even know of its existence until a month ago. Luckily I was able to snag a hotel room and some tickets before it was too late!

The 2018 festival was held September 12-16 in Bardstown, Kentucky (aka The Bourbon Capital of the World). To celebrate the 26th Anniversary over 50,000 bourbon lovers from around the world were in attendance.

There was a multitude of events, educational opportunities, arts and crafts, and live music. And if you found yourself with some time between events, you were able to check out the Kentucky Bourbon Trail and Urban Bourbon Trail.

Each year host new experiences and opportunities. For the 2018 celebration, Four Roses Bourbon was also celebrating its 130th anniversary. I was able to score a free copy of Al Young’s book Four Roses – The Return of a Whiskey Legend, signed by the author himself.

The crown jewel of the event was the black-tie gala. All participating brands had elaborate booths offering unlimited tastings and custom cocktails. In attendance were multiple master distillers including some of those who had already retired. Following cocktail hour was a 3-course meal followed by a chance to drink and dance the night away.

I loved my experience at the Kentucky Bourbon Festival but here are some tips I picked up to get the most out of your trip:

  • Order Tickets in Advance – While some events are free and welcome mass attendance others can sell out quickly. With 50k+ visitors joining you, make sure to plan ahead for the events and hotel room that you want.
  • Research Limited Releases in Advance – Several limited releases were allocated during the festival. You should plan which ones you want to get into your itinerary.
  • Arrive Early for Tours – With this many people in attendance tours can completely pack out. Make sure you’re on the tour too by arriving 15-20 minutes early.
  • Sip Responsibly – This is a 5-day event guys, so there’s no need to chug like it’s last call at the bar. Pace yourself so you can get the most out of your trip. Nothing will ruin it more than coming down with a case of the Kentucky flu. (Luckily this is not firsthand advice, this is on behalf of more than one unfortunate soul I saw struggling!)

Check out the official website to get the latest news for next year’s festival and to buy your tickets as they come on sale. Hope you’ll join me next year!

2018 Bourbon Participants

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