Louisville’s Bourbon Classic 2013 Media Tour

Real Life – Media Tour Louisville KY

The Bourbon Review Boys Bob, Justin, and Seth with media The Bourbon Classic 2013

Sipping, Slurping and Giggling -Bourbon Classic Media Tour

Bourbon and Me

I was taught that in polite company when drinking bourbon on the front veranda, a lovely china tea cup was the proper vessel for elegant sipping.

Out back sitting on the tail gate of beat up pick up truck a clear mason jar was just fine; filled with crushed ice, a little sugar water muddled with mint pulled from the creek bank, and of course a very generous splash of bourbon.

These were the rules of the women who instructed me on what it means to be a lady. They served me well during Louisville’s first Bourbon Classic.

I am a Kentucky girl. My ancestors were distillers, tavern keepers, moonshiners, and ridge runners. I cannot deny my genes or my heritage. Nor do I want to.

To See What I Could See

Touring Kentucky Bourbon Distilleries with the media Bourbon Classic 2013

When the invitation came to explore bourbon country with the media, I jumped on the opportunity. It is not like I have never toured a distillery. It is not like there are more than fifty bourbons sitting on the back bar here at the big red barn. That was not the point.

I wanted to see for myself how the national media would react to bourbon, to Kentucky’s unique brand of hospitality.

Would they would embrace the inaugural Bourbon Classic, an event designed to showcase bourbon heritage, cocktail culture, and promote Kentucky as an emerging destination for culinary and spirit enthusiasts?

I wanted to see how the distilleries responded as the rock stars of bourbon journalism traipsed through their distilleries, sampled their bourbon, and gazed upon the fermentation vats magically bubbling up the latest batches of Kentucky’s elixir.

I wanted to see if these kids they call “The Bourbon Boys” Justin Thompson, Seth Thompson, and Bob Eidson of The Bourbon Review Magazine (with the help of FSA Management) could pull off an event that would set the stage for a larger food and bourbon gathering that will someday rival the Food and Wine festivals of Asheville, Charleston, and Atlanta.

In The River City

After a four hour drive up the Mountain Parkway and circling around the Gene Snyder, I arrived in Louisville ready for a cocktail party. Larry Rice at the Silver Dollar did not disappoint. Chef Jonathan Schwartz was delivering the goods. Sous Chef and fellow giggle conspirator Dave Hawkins was pushing the line. Behind the bar, bourbon was the ingredient of choice, my favorite concoction an Old Fashioned cocktail.

I settled down to watch the media interact, resting at a back table with author Chuck Cowdery who wrote “Bourbon Straight: The Uncut Unfiltered Story of American Whiskey”. We talked bourbon. We talked about the Mississippian era of America’s history.

Chuck and Justin at The Silver Dollar Bourbon Classic Party

The waitress delivered a banana pudding boat delivered with a half dozen spoons. Silver Dollar owner Shawn Cantley and I dug in. Justin did too!

Over the course of four days, I got a glimpse behind the scenes with these folks of the media, covering the scene from the view of academics, connoisseurs, lifestyle writers, and food columnists. That is what I came for.

What We Did

Bourbon Classic Event at Louisville's 21c Proof on Main

We attended parties at the Silver Dollar, 21c’s Proof on Main, Bill Samuel’s home, and Ed Lee’s new restaurant Milkwood. We were shuttled by Mint Julep Tours to numerous distilleries. We attended two nights of the inaugural Bourbon Classic which included food and beverage competitions, samplings from bourbon brands, and several bourbon related classes.

I did not say much. I know bourbon; but not the way these folks do. They are experts. I am just a hillbilly girl that knows what I like. I learned as much from the media as I did the Master Distillers who so graciously entertained us.

The media tour was a grand adventure. The Bourbon Classic a splashing success! Giggles

Here’s What I Learned

Bourbon Classic 2013 Media Camper English, Chuck Cowdery, Joyce Pinson

Bourbon writers Camper English, Chuck Cowdery and me! Giggles

Bourbon writers are more fun than food writers. They drink, they write, they snap photos and they laugh. They are respectful of our Kentucky culture, and will spread the good news about Kentucky’s bourbon heritage.

There’s only one thing that puzzled us all; and that was “Bathtub Mary’s.” But that’s a story for another time. It is a Nelson County thing.

What’s Next?

In mid April, I’ll be kicking off a series on Kentucky Bourbon which will include Kentucky distillers, barkeeps, and chefs. I’ll take you behind the scenes at Louisville’s Bourbon Classic. I might even share some recipes. Stick around for the giggles. CHEERS!

Disclaimer: I was the guest of The Bourbon Review and FSA Management and did not pay for distillery tours, meals, or drinks during the course of sponsored activities. I was granted admission to both days of The Bourbon Classic as a member of the working media. More to come on this blog in an upcoming edition of the Appalachian News Express.

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About Joyce Pinson

Joyce Friend Pinson is a regional farm-to-table columnist for the Appalachian-News Express. She is a local television host. Her column show and blog, Friends Drift Inn, explores food, gardening, and real life farm-to-table stories from the perspective of a baby boomer in Appalachia. Joyce has a background in agriculture, media, and small business. Joyce is an heirloom gardening addict and home canner. She has a penchant for big hats, pointy toed shoes, and bourbon. Along with her husband Charlie, Joyce really does live in a barn where they ballroom dance. And laugh. And cook. And giggle.