All photos by Maggie Kimberl.

If you missed the 2016 Bourbon Classic in Louisville, Kentucky go ahead and mark your calendar for next year. As much as this event has grown in the last four years, expect it to get even bigger and better next year. What started out as a two day event has blossomed to include five straight days of events that can be attended in tandem or a la carte. There were several people at the kickoff event who didn’t have time to make it to the main event on the weekend but still wanted to be a part of the festivities. No matter how you go to The Bourbon Classic next year, be sure you go. Here’s a breakdown of the week’s events:

Bourbon Classic TOP SHELF: A Bourbon and Culinary Experience

This event, hosted by Preston Van Winkle, took place at Copper and Kings American Brandy Distillery. Guests were treated to a feast prepared by Chef Sean Brock of Husk Restaurant in Nashville which included delightful fried chicken skin among other Southern favorites. Guests were also afforded the opportunity to sample four Van Winkle bourbon offerings.

bcap4 Bourbon Classic LOFT: A Bourbon and Culinary Experience

Brand-new Master Distiller of Four Roses Brent Elliott hosted this event at the BBC Bourbon Barrel Loft space overlooking Louisville’s historic Main Street. Up and coming chefs from around the city prepared small plates as guests sipped Four Roses and cocktails.

Bourbon Classic SAVOR: A Bourbon and Culinary Experience

Blackberry Farm‘s Corporate Chef Josh Feathers prepared a four course meal for guests at the Frazier History Museum’s new Prohibition and Kentucky exhibit. Preston Van Winkle hosted a “Pappy Hour” before the meal.

From the Barrel to the Bar: Bourbon Classic Cocktail Challenge

Chefs and mixologists from Louisville and New Orleans competed to create both classic and contemporary cocktail and small plate pairings. Guests had the opportunity to try all of the combinations while judging was taking place. Winners for 2016 were:


All the pretty horses: Blanton’s bourbon at the 2016 Bourbon Classic

Best Classic Pairing: Damien Cooke and Chef Newman Miller on team Barton 1792

Best Classic Cocktail: Michael Anderson on team Heaven Hill

Best Classic Small Plate: Chef Mike Wajda on team Heaven Hill

Best Contemporary Cocktail: Beth Burrows on team Michter’s

Best Contemporary Small Plate: Chef Newman Miller on team Barton 1792

Best Contemporary Pairing: Evan Watson and Chef Michael Crouch on team Four Roses

Bourbon University Sessions and Bourbon Classic Taste “Bourbon Street Meets Bourbon Country”

bcap1 There were three sessions of Bourbon University this year broken up into five class offerings the first session, a Bourbon Masters General Session, then four more classes in the third session. Topics ranged from pairing bourbon and country ham to new distillers in the industry. After the Bourbon University sessions, guests were given a Glencairn glass and set loose for 2.5 hours to taste dozens of bourbons and other whiskeys.

Announcements about ticket sales and dates for the next year’s events usually begin in the summer, so keep an eye out on The Bourbon Classic’s website and social media for the inside scoop.