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    Eat & Swig

    2015 Bourbon Classic A Smashing Success
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    In Louisville we elevate our chefs, mixologists, and bourbon industry folks to the level of rock stars.  No single event in bourbon country celebrates this phenomenon better than the Bourbon Classic.  This is THE bourbon event for everybody, from the bourbon connoisseur to the non-drinking foodie.  There truly is something for everyone at The Bourbon Classic.

    The first evening consisted of a cocktail and small plates competition.  Levon Wallace and his team of Blanton’s, Proof, and St. Charles Exchange took home a triple win in the classic small plate, classic cocktail, and classic pairing competition.  It was the first ever category sweep, a fitting victory for Wallace just weeks before he moves on to Nashville.

    The contemporary winners were Isaac Fox of Volare Ristorante for Four Roses Bourbon for best contemporary cocktail, Chef Jacob Coronado of 8UP Elevated Drinkery & Kitchen for Jim Beam for best contemporary small plate, and Sean Thibodeaux and Chef Jacob Coronado of 8UP Elevated Drinkery & Kitchen for Jim Beam for best contemporary pairing.

    Day two of The Bourbon Classic began with multiple bourbon education options such as bourbon a cheese pairings, a Glencarin glass education session, Straight Up Storytellers, and The Life of the Barrel, just to name a few.  I attended the bourbon and country ham and bourbon pairing session first.  It’s fairly well known in the bourbon world that the Noe family has a longstanding tradition of curing country hams, so it was appropriate all the hams were paired with Jim Beam products.  Fred Noe attended the session and told stories about dressing hogs on his mother’s dining room table and curing an enormous country ham with his father, the late Booker Noe.

    The Bourbon Masters General Session was a huge hit.  Fred Minnick emceed the session and covered topics ranging from the bourbon shortage, flavored whiskey, and marketing bourbon to women.  Industry rock stars such as Fred Noe, Jimmy Russell, and Jim Rutledge all hit home runs with their always insightful commentary.  But the breakout stars of the session were Nicole Austin of Kings County Distillery and Chip Tate, formerly of Balcones.  Tate’s recent split from Balcones has been the subject of rumor and innuendo, and Tate took the opportunity to focus the audience on the future of his next brand.  Nicole Austin was quite noticeably the only woman on the stage.  When asked if there were any special challenges that came along with being a woman distiller, Austin responded with great wit and humor that heated toilet seats in the distillery would level the playing field, a comment that was met with raucous laughter.  Fred Minnick asked some hard-hitting questions, some of which were not well-received by panel members, but it made for a very lively and informative session.

    After the general session I stuck around for the Bourbon Icons session, which featured Freddie Johnson of Buffalo Trace, Fred Noe of Jim Beam, Jimmy Russell of Wild Turkey, and Jim Rutledge of Four Roses.  The session was emceed by Bobby Burk, a brand ambassador for Bulleit.  The panelists talked about growing up in the distillery culture and waxed poetic about standing on the shoulders of the great people who came before them.

    The Bourbon Classic is basically the Super Bowl or the Kentucky Derby of bourbon.  It highlights the best of the best of our top industries, elevating both Louisville and Kentucky to an esteemed position.  It’s also a one-stop shop for bourbon enthusiasts to drink bourbon with their favorite Master Distillers, bourbon legends, and bourbon media.  The Bourbon Classic brings the bourbon community together for two nights of fun, food, and bourbon, filling a need in Louisville for a signature bourbon and food event.

    Photos Courtesy of Maggie Kimberl

    Maggie Kimberl's picture

    About Maggie Kimberl

    I'm a Louisville native with a passion for traveling and homegrown tomatoes. I write the bourbon news, which keeps me plenty busy since Louisville is the center of the bourbon universe. See bourbon news happening? Contact me on Twitter @LouGirl502!

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