By April Manning
When Louisville celebrates bourbon, they definitely go beyond expectations. Louisville, KY honored National Bourbon Heritage Month by throwing bourbon a party at the Bourbon and Beyond Festival and inviting everyone to partake. The group at Bourbon and Beyond provided the perfect combination of bourbon, bourbon education, and ways to enjoy drinking bourbon, i.e. with abundant food and great music with compatible people.
With activities throughout the weekend to satisfy all, from the skilled bourbon enthusiast to the mere bourbon-curious, Bourbon and Beyond orchestrated a finely-tuned celebration from start to finish.
In the Char House, festival-goers could witness the historic art of barrel raising at the Brown-Forman Cooperage booth’s workshop. Since Brown-Forman is the only major spirits company in the entire world to make its own new barrels, this was a unique look into the charring process.
At the Woodford Reserve booth, Tom Petschke gave spectators something to chew on when he displayed his company’s way of recycling the bourbon barrel after the all-important aging process. The Petschke Pick breaks the barrels down into toothpicks and various sized skewers.
Jack Daniels offered a virtual tour of their distillery, which was quite enjoyable after consuming a Jack Daniel’s Cinnamon covered marshmallow. FirstBuild showed the pros and cons of their various ice cubes comparative to assorted bourbon cocktails. They also introduced an exciting innovation – crystal clear ice balls made from tap water.
Workshops providing interactive learning from master chefs and master distillers were available throughout the weekend. Speakers from organizations such as Bourbon Women and Angel’s Envy covered subjects ranging from women in the bourbon world to distilling as a family business.
Surrounded by the agreeable music presented from a variety of artists at an array of stages, attendees enjoyed all of these well-planned events with a refreshing bourbon-based cocktail in-hand. Crowds not only experienced history on stage with legendary blues guitarist Buddy Guy, grooved to classic rock with Steve Miller Band, and got their “Nicks Fix” drooling over Stevie Nicks and her well-known vocal chords but they also got to be exposed to an extensive list of other brilliantly talented artists.
Dave Cavalier kicked off the festival to an already swelling crowd Saturday. Playing at the same venue with performers such as Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Eddie Vedder, and the aforementioned Buddy Guy makes this a landmark show both professionally and personally. “It really hit me when I pulled in and the first truck I saw was Buddy Guy’s. I used to listen to him when I played my Mom and Dad’s old blues records! To be opening for him makes today a pivotal moment in my career.”
Even in the sweltering heat (high of 90’s with lots of sun both days!) the bourbon, blues, and delectable food pulled through in satisfying fashion all weekend. Each evening, feelings of mutual anticipation began to mingle together as the night crept in and the relentless heat at last abated. The bourbon was doing its thing and everyone was feeling right.
Festivalgoer Allison Hicks-Satterly admitted she had went for the opportunity to see Stevie Nicks with her son, but had a wonderful time experiencing the rest that Bourbon and Beyond had to offer. “The food and of course Bourbon was excellent. Each vendor was friendly and I got an awesome Stevie Nicks shirt. The crowd was perfect! We took our shoes off and danced barefoot together to every band!”
This was a phenomenal inaugural festival and I plan to add it to my Bourbon Heritage month festivities. I hope I will see you there next year!