Shawn Stevens checks out Louisville’s own Bourbon and Beyond Festival!

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Bourbon and Beyond Festival

By: Shawn Stevens
I was really excited to find out I was going to get Media Passes for
the inaugural Bourbon And Beyond. I’ll admit that without the help
of my daughter Amelia, I would’ve been writing about it from my
house after the show each day. The access this afforded me was
fantastic; I could go anywhere except back stage and talk to a lot
of the industry folks I would have had to try and find in the crowd
both days. Being able to go to the Media Camp and use a faster
internet service also helped because there were so many people
posting in the crowd about what a great time they were having.
Thank you Danny Wimmer Presents.

22219501_1989924194598584_124022879_o (1)Gary Clark Jr. and the Louisville Skyline
I haven’t been to a festival of this size in a while so I was a little
worried about whether some things might go awry due to this
being the first, but not the last Bourbon and Beyond. Guess what,
the intersection getting off the highway was the ONLY complaint I
have. Once parked, all previous worries were for nothing.
From the minute we entered the gate to when we left that evening
I was impressed with the work crews, considering the logistics of
keeping an area the size of this festival functioning, safe and
clean. There were workers and police officers continually
wandering through the crowd helping direct lost attendees,
picking up after people that had moved to another area and
keeping everyone safe. A couple of early misdirections by some
of the younger workers the first morning never happened again.
Placed about every 50 yards or so were garbage/recycling
stations that were emptied at 20 minute intervals ALL day. Not
seeing the receptacles overflowing and trash all over the ground
will be one of the main reasons this festival will repeat annually
and I’ll be back for every one of them.

22193141_1989924061265264_1272605079_nVintage Bourbon Selections
I talked to a lot of bourbon folks/nerds B&B weekend and the
agreement was that the people were the best. Caleb​ ​Kilburn​, the
Head Distiller (his description) of Peerless Distillery talked about
how friendly and courteous all of the Festival workers were. He
was impressed at how hard everyone was working despite the
unseasonable heat. Dave​ ​Pickerell​, the Master Distiller at
Whistle Pig, Hillrock and George Washington’s Distillery
seconded Caleb’s vote on the people working. Dave said he
enjoyed how eclectic the crowd was too. Matthew​ ​Landan​, who
owns The Haymarket Whiskey Bar talked about “the people, the
whiskey heads that came to be in the middle of Bourbon Heaven,
and they come to Bourbon and Beyond and they’re finding it”.
Another big plus in my mind was having two stages next to each
other for the main musical acts. While one stage was being used,
the other one was being broken down and reset for the next
group. This meant each band started at the prescribed time and
had only 5 – 10 minutes in between. This noticeably kept the
boredom factor of the crowd to a minimum and made for a very
enjoyable day. Buddy Guy on the first day and Gary Clark Jr. on
the second are my picks for best musical act. Best friends of
mine, Jim​ and Lisa​ ​Kraft​ and their daughter Katie​ ​would argue
that Eddie Vedder was the best artist the whole weekend and
Shannon​ ​Fisher​, part of the publicity team for Bourbon and
Beyond stated that Eddie’s performance gave her chills it was so
good.

22192842_1989924114598592_167696720_nEddie Vedder
The second day it was nice to see that everything was as good or
better than it was the day before. You know how it is; people are
excited and gung-ho at the beginning and overdo it. The heat
might have made an impact that could have been difficult to
recover from. Far from it. Everything and everyone turned out to
impress me all over again. Bruce​ ​Corwin​ is the founder of The
Bourbon Brotherhood and his feeling was that it was all
tremendous. He said that from the workshop he attended (with
writer Fred Minnick , Corky Taylor from Peerless Distillery and
Kaveh Zamanian owner of Rabbit Hole Distillery) to the Kenny
Wayne Shepherd concert and everything in between, because it
was difficult for him to single out any one thing as the best. Sarah
Havens​ who has written extensively about spirits under the name
The Bar Belle appreciated the workshops and cooking
demonstrations. Linda​ ​Rabenecker​ ​Ruffenach​, the Founder of
The Whiskey Chicks and soon to have a book published had
served drinks the morning of the Chicks and Champs Gospel
Brunch also liked the workshops the most. It was a great way to
keep up on her whiskey education.

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WhistlePig’s Dave Pickerell 

 

And some of the best cooking was all of the food trucks and
booths. A Gyro from one of the local food trucks was big enough
that my wife Catherine and I split it. Day 2 we got the Teriyaki
Chicken at the franchise Island Noodles. It felt like there was 8
pounds of food in the container and I couldn’t shove it in my face
fast enough. Everybody complimented all of the food even though
I did hear rumors that some of the booths tried to raise prices on
Sunday. At the end of the festival I was able to talk with Clay
Busch​, the head honcho of the weekend, about what is in the
future for Bourbon and Beyond. I can’t talk a lot about what was
said but I can say he was just as impressed with the people
coming to the festival as I was with his crew of workers.
My final question for my interviews was to name their favorite
bourbon. Yes, its an unfair question and yes, you have to answer
it. Caleb was a great advertiser when he answered “it isn’t out yet
because Peerless Bourbon is a couple of years away from
bottling”. Dave was being sentimental too when he said Maker’s
Mark due to his working there for 14 years. There were several
votes for “the one in my hand” and I have to go see Bruce soon
because his was “the one you’re gonna buy me”. I’m looking
forward to what Danny​ ​Wimmer​ has in store for us next year. If
you really want to see what can be done to accentuate bourbon
and bourbon culture, you don’t want to miss the next one either.

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The Kentucky Artisan Distillery Traveling Alembic

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