I had a chance to catch up with Fred Minnick, a bourbon expert and well known in the bourbon industry, who’s adding to his resume his duties as bourbon coordinator for the Bourbon & Beyond festival festival to be held this (2018) September in Louisville, KY. Taking a look at the lineup for this year’s event I have to agree that this is shaping up to be a spectacular weekend. I’m certainly looking forward to the wide-ranging selections of bourbons but with one glance at the roster you’ll see this is about much more than bourbon.
“This is the second year for the Bourbon & Beyond festival,” explains Minnick, “and we’re getting a lot of recognition because of what and who will be here.” The festival is the brainchild of music promoter Danny Wimmer Presents, who puts on rock concerts across the US. “They started doing a local festival a few years ago called “Louder than Life.” Their love of Kentucky, bourbon, music, and food lead them to the concept of pairing brilliant music with celebrities and bourbon. “They brought me in as the ‘bourbon guy’ because my world is bourbon.”
“I think this is greatest festival in the history of Kentucky and it’s already one of the hottest festivals in the country.” But Minnick says that even the general admission tickets that are still available are pretty fantastic. “You’ve got all of these little speakeasies at the festival, you’ve got really cool chef pairings. bourbon, you’ve got the big bourbon bar, which is going to have more than 30 Bourbons in it. In my area which is the bourbon workshop tent I’ll be speaking about bourbon, the history of it, and how it’s made, and how it has such a deep family heritage.”
In terms of activities available to all festival attendees, “There will be tasting of a lot of great bourbons, and then you got celebrity chefs like Tom Colicchio, Aaron Sanchez, Jose Salazar, and Edward Lee. And they’re going to be doing demonstrations as well.” Here’s a partial list of the bourbons Fred picked for us to enjoy:
1792, Angel’s Envy, Barrell Bourbon, Basil Hayden’s, Bloody Butcher’s Creed, Contradiction, Cooper’s Craft, Four Roses, Jefferson’s, Knob Creek, Larceny, Michter’s, New Riff Bourbon, Old Forester, Peerless, Rabbit Hole, Rebel Yell, Wild Turkey, and Woodford Reserve.
And if that isn’t enough for the weekend there will be other bourbons and distilleries on site including:
Blanton’s, Booker’s, Boone County, Bowman Brothers, Buffalo Trace, Bulleit, Eagle Rare, E.H. Taylor, Elijah Craig, Elmer T. Lee, Evan Williams, Hartfield & Co., Jim Beam, Jim Beam Black, Kentucky Owl, Maker’s 46, Maker’s Mark, MB Roland, Old Pogue Distillery, Pappy Van Winkle, Rock Hill Farms, W.L. Weller, Wadelyn Ranch Distilling, Wilderness Trail Distillery and Willett.
In addition to the music and bourbon there are plenty of special events that are available for additional admission. Some are off site but, “So in addition to the music stages to get you to all the bourbon workshops all the all the bourbon activations as they’re called, there are special barbecue pairing, and special pizza and bourbon pairing. And it gives you access to the bourbon stages. You really do get a lot just with a general admission ticket.”
The weekend will host about 60,000 people. That’s a lot of happy folks down by the river in Louisville. I’ll be looking for friends there and hoping to attend at least some of the special events. If you haven’t heard about Bourbon & Beyond before, that isn’t surprising. I just found out about it a couple months ago and as Fred says, “This is only the festival’s second year so you’re not alone. But it’s getting a lot of recognition because of the incredible music and food and bourbon.”