There's something new on the whiskey events calendar. It's the Bourbon Classic, March 22-23, at the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts in Louisville, Kentucky.
As Steve Coomes wrote on InsiderLouisville.com last month, "The state’s whiskey makers surely are saying and sighing simultaneously, 'It’s about time!' and they’re right. They’ve done their part; it’s time to do ours."
The Bourbon Classic is produced by FSA Group, a professional event organizer based in Louisville, and Bourbon Review Magazine, with heavy support from the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau. It's new, but they hope it will be annual. They're starting small, expecting about 500 people.
Unlike other events, this one is entirely bourbon-centric, though no doubt there will be some rye around too. It's being held in downtown Louisville, on Whiskey Row, in a building located where headquarters of whiskey companies once stood, all within sight of the Ohio River, which first took Kentucky's whiskey south and, ultimately, around the world.
Amazingly, Louisville has never hosted a major bourbon event before, at least not in the modern era. Although it lacks the 'weekend in the country' appeal of the annual Kentucky Bourbon Festival in Bardstown, it makes up for it with all the amenities of a major city, including an international airport and world-class dining and lodging options.
There are different events on the two nights and they can be purchased together or separately, at a standard or VIP level. You can spend as little as $135 or as much as $355. Packages that include lodging are available. There's more information here, but if you want to go directly to the ticketing information, click here.
I will be participating in some way, as the moderator of a panel, probably about history. I'll post more when information becomes available, but I am planning to be there.
In a way, this inaugural event will be a leap of faith for both participants and attendees. It's certainly the right idea, but you can't be sure exactly what you are going to get. In a way, it depends on who buys the tickets or, at least, whether or not the organizers' vision meshes with the aspirations of the ticket buyers. It will be a one-off if the attendees don't feel that they got their money's worth. But if your problem with other events has been "not enough bourbon," both literally and figuratively, that should not be a problem here.
If you want to combine the Bourbon Classic with distillery tours or other activities, there are plenty of people eager to help you set it all up. You can start here.
It's just two month away.