DrinkWire is Liquor.com's showcase for the best articles, recipe and reviews from the web's top writers and bloggers. In this post, The Alcohol Professor offers opinions on favorite Bourbon-related experiences.


whiskey aging at Kentucky Peerless

Most of us learn by doing, and that includes learning about America’s Native Spirit. It’s always good to start your whiskey journey with a book or a podcast, but when you want to dig deeper into bourbonism you have to start mingling with all the other bourbonites. Here is my 2017 Bourbon Bucket List for anyone wanting to make their grand entrance into the whiskey world this year. I hope to see you on the trail!

Fred Minnick (L) and Julian Van Winkle at the 2016 Legends' Series
Fred Minnick (L) and Julian Van Winkle at the 2016 Legends Series

  1. The Kentucky Derby Museum’s Legends Series, hosted by Fred Minnick, begins on January 27th and runs for three sessions including March 23rd and April 20th. Guests this year will include Jim Beam’s Fred Noe, Bulleit Distilling Co.’s Tom Bulleit, and Old Forester’s Campbell Brown. The program features a journalistic-style Q&A session accompanied by whiskey tastings.

  2. The Bourbon Classic is the first major bourbon festival in Louisville every calendar year. There are panel discussions, tastings, small group sessions, and a cocktail competition. You can participate multiple days or just one, and since it’s right in the heart of bourbon country there’s always plenty to do! The Bourbon Classic takes place February 28-March 4, 2017.

  3. Whisky Live USA kicks off this year with Whisky Live New York on March 1 and Whisky Live Washington D.C. March 11. There will also be events in Louisville, Los Angeles, and Pleasanton, CA in 2017.
  4. The New Orleans Bourbon Festival is one of those things that make you wonder why it has never been done before. Bourbon was historically exported from Kentucky to New Orleans, and Bourbon Historian Michael Veach has a pretty strong argument for bourbon’s name coming from Bourbon Street. The first annual New Orleans Bourbon Festival will take place March 24–26, 2017.
  5. The first bottles of Kentucky Peerless Rye will be available starting in late April or early May. It’s hard to believe this distillery has already been operating for two years since its Prohibition-era hiatus. Kentucky Peerless was once the second largest bourbon distillery in Kentucky, and now descendents Corky and Carson Taylor have resurrected the family business. You’d better believe I’m going to be the first in line to buy a bottle of history!
  6. The Kentucky Bourbon Affair will take place June 6-11, 2017. This is a week-long bourbon geek fantasy camp with unique distillery-based events. Last year I went skeet shooting with Jimmy and Eddie Russell and it was awesome. There’s something for everyone no matter your favorite brand or distiller. (For our visit in 2015, please click here.)

    barrel rolling at the Kentucky Bourbon Festival
    barrel rolling at the Kentucky Bourbon Festival

  7. You can now become an official Master of the Urban Bourbon Trail in Louisville by visiting each of the 35 bars on the UBT and getting your passport stamped. Just don’t try to do it all in one weekend!
  8. The Kentucky Bourbon Festival draws bourbon enthusiasts from all over the world to beautiful Bardstown, Kentucky, once named the Most Beautiful Small Town in America. There’s competitive barrel rolling, a rare whiskey auction, a black tie gala, and more.
  9. If you haven’t visited one of Kentucky’s many beautiful bourbon distilleries yet, 2017 is the year to cross that off your list. Whether you visit the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, The Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour, or go off the map to a distillery that has no affiliation such as Buffalo Trace, you will have a fabulous time learning about America’s Native Spirit!

  10. Make plans to visit Castle & Key, the Bourbon Phoenix rising from the ashes of the once abandoned Old Taylor Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky. The opening date has been pushed back but is still expected in 2017.

Castle & Key distillery
Castle & Key distillery

All photos by Maggie Kimberl.