The Start of the 2015 Kentucky Bourbon Affair

Over the last year, Chris, my bourbon BFF, and I have saved our pennies to attend what is hailed as “The Ultimate Bourbon Fantasy Camp”. Though, the official name is the Kentucky Bourbon Affair (KYBA). It is five wonderful days of bourbon-centric events. The daytime events are more likely to involve distillery tours – amped up, of course. The “night cap” events are bourbon parties or bourbon dinners. The events begin today, and I am so excited I could tinkle!

In February, there were 50 Golden Tickets available for purchase, and Chris and I each snagged one before they sold out (in only 6 hours!). One of the benefits of the Golden Tickets is you can pick which events you want to attend before the general public gets a shot at them. It won’t guarantee that your top event won’t be sold out by they time you get to it, but it increases your chances. I really (really, really, REALLY) wanted to attend the Michter’s Rare Tasting and Tour on Saturday morning. Knowing that event would sell out quickly was THE reason I splurged on the Golden Ticket. And I got in. Yes, yes, YES!

Why did I want to attend this event so badly? I love their bourbons, especially their hard-to-come-by 20-year old that I tried at last year’s inaugural KYBA. As Chris would say, “it’s smack yo momma good.” Plus, here is a description for the event:

Don’t miss this rare “celebration” at Michter’s new distillery, the first time it’s been opened to the general public. Tour and taste Michter’s small batch and single barrel brands, including Celebration, the distillery’s luxury sour mash offering blended from special barrels over 20 and 30 years old. Hand-label your own souvenir bottle of Michter’s on the bottling line and enjoy signature cocktails and a Bourbon-inspired lunch.

Michter’s, you had me at Celebration. Ok, maybe it was because I saw “rare”, “hand-label”, and “souvenir bottle”. Either way, I will be there, and I’ll be savoring that Celebration.

So what am I doing later that day, and on the other days of this bourbon fantasy camp? Today I start at Wild Turkey for a private barrel selection, followed by the opening event, called Bourbon Under the Rocks, being held literally under the city in the Louisville Mega Caverns. How cool is that?! Thursday is my Heaven Hill day. In the morning I’ll be at Heaven Hill to find my “Single Barrel Soul-mate”. In the evening I’ll be dining “with three generations of the Shapira family, founders and owners of Heaven Hill Brands, in the Speakeasy lounge at the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience.”

I’m hoping for a bit of luck on Friday morning, as I’ll be fishing with Chris and the Noe Family. Jim Beam Master Distiller Fred Noe will take us to his father’s, Booker Noe’s, favorite fishing hole. Chris and I continue our day together at Bill Samuel’s home for a Maker’s Mark Southern Style Crab & Crawfish Boil. You already know what I’m doing Saturday morning. The night cap event is the closing event called CasaBourblanca, being held, but where else? Bowman Airfield. I love that – such clever folks behind the KYBA, right? And let’s not forget about Sunday’s “send-off” event at Waterfront Park… Polo on the Waterfront.

Phew! I’m going to be exhausted at the end of the week, but knowing how much I loved last year’s events, I know it will be well worth it.


2015 KYBA Swag

The Bourbon Classic Taste

Kentucky by Copper & Kings

Copper & Kings Brandy Distillery’s Kentucky

It’s winter, and it’s gotten brutal… record-setting snowstorms and record cold. To distract me from the misery that Mother Nature has bestowed upon us, I signed up to attend the Bourbon Classic kickoff event, called the Bourbon Classic Taste. There was going to be bourbon tastings and great food provided by Chef Ed Lee and Lady Fingers Catering.

The event was held on Tuesday, February 17 2015, in the newly opened Copper and Kings American Brandy Distillery. It’s located in Butchertown, just east of downtown Louisville, with a great view of the city’s lights. Julian Van Winkle, the President of Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery, was on hand to share with us his very exclusive, and very elusive, bourbons. All attendees got one ticket for each of the following: 12- year Van Winkle Special Reserve, 15-year Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve, and 20-year Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve. Of those, the 15-year old Van Winkle Family Reserve was my favorite. I tend to prefer higher proof bourbons, and this 107 proof was no exception – beating out the other two 90 proof drinks.

But let’s not forget, there were other bourbons and spirits on hand. Besides Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare, E.H. Taylor, W.L. Weller, Four Roses Small Batch, Four Roses Single Barrel, and Michter’s Bourbons, there was 1000 Stories (Bourbon-barrel aged) Zinfandel, and brandies from Copper & Kings. My favorite drink of the night was the Michter’s Straight Rye. My whiskey of choice is Rye, so that was no surprise. But, the 1000 Stories wine pleasantly surprised me; it was very drinkable, and I can see buying a few bottles for when guests come to visit.

While I did not partake in the sliders that Chef Lee prepared from whole hog, the food provided by Lady Finger Catering was delicious. I’ve been to other events they’ve catered as well, and have always been impressed with their food and service. The party was a lot of fun, no doubt inspired by lots of free-flowing spirits. I hope the Bourbon Classic Taste becomes an annual event. It’s one that I would love to attend again.

Lady Finger Catering desserts

I prefer to drink my desserts, but these were delicious!


Dessert in a bottle.

Bourbon - my kind of dessert.

If Pappy Van Winkle bourbons aren’t your thing, here are more great options.

Buffalo Trace e-cards

You know, I feel like Buffalo Trace (BT) gets me, just really understands me.  I don’t have to explain myself; I don’t have to act differently around BT; and BT makes me laugh. Check out the e-cards they post on facebook for a giggle.

Tonight, I’m raising a glass of Buffalo Trace to Buffalo Trace.


Buffalo at BT

Buffalo Trace makes for a better bourbon name than Moose Juice, don’t you think?