Deep details on upcoming Bourbon & Beyond announced today

The following press release providing details on September’s Bourbon & Beyond event, was made available today by Danny Wimmer Presents. It is the longest news release I’ve ever seen, bar none. It’s so stuffed with details about this combo-bourbon-food-and-music festival that I’ve left it largely intact to ensure the key details remain. So here goes, read on. It appears to be taking shape nicely.

In honor of National Bourbon Day, Danny Wimmer Presents is ecstatic to announce its highly anticipated Food & Beverage Partners for BOURBON & BEYOND, an incredible all-in-one bourbon, food, and music festival that celebrates the craftsmanship, soul and spirit of Louisville, Kentucky.  Taking place for the first time on Saturday, September 23 and Sunday, September 24, glasses are being raised across the country to toast the exceptional talent that is making this festival unlike any other.

Danny Wimmer Presents newest venture, the inaugural Bourbon & Beyond, is a showcase featuring the best bourbons, master distillers, national and local chefs, bartenders, musicians, and many other artisans. Along with nationally celebrated Louisville chef, Edward Lee and best-selling author and acclaimed bourbon authority, Fred Minnick, this talented trio has brought these partners together to blend the best elements of a bourbon festival, a food festival, and a music festival into one all-encompassing celebration.

Attendees of the Bourbon & Beyond Festival are sure to be blown away by the overwhelming group of talented chefs, famed restaurants, interactive demos, panels, outstanding dishes and exciting epicurean events taking over Louisville this September.

  • Chef & Restaurant Partners: BOURBON & BEYOND’s Chef Partners include renowned local and national chefs and beloved Louisville restaurants to deliver one-of-a-kind delectable creations. National Chefs to make appearances throughout the weekend are Tom Colicchio, Carla Hall, Edward Lee, Chris Cosentino, Amanda Freitag, Jose Salazar, Cosmo Goss & Erling Wu-Bower, Kevin Ashworth, Anthony Lamas and Anthony Falco, just to name a few. Local restaurants include Baxter’s 942 Bar & Grill, Boss Hog’s BBQ, Doc Crow’s, Gospel Bird, Seviche, The Manhattan Exchange, Whiskey Dry and many more.
  • PARTIES: A ticket to Bourbon & Beyond grants access to all the parties throughout the festival.
    • The Big Easy Boil presented by Southern Comfort: Chef Anthony Lamas hosts the Big Easy Crawfish Boil where guests can choose between Chef Lamas’ Latin Flavor or the NoLa Crawfish King’s traditional recipe. Featuring New Orleans inspired tunes from DJ Johnny Sidell.
    • Tiki Barrel Bar:In addition to serving up outstanding tiki libations, renowned bartenders and cocktail book authors Jane Danger & Alla Lapuschik demonstrate how Bourbon is taking over Tiki. Featuring tunes by Coat Check Pool Party DJs.
    • Southern Soul BBQ: Chef Kevin Ashworth & Stacie Stewart of 610 Magnolia & Milkwood demonstrates the art of southern cooking & Maker’s Mark cocktails at this soulful inspired party. Featuring tunes by Derby City Soul Club.
  • LIVE Cooking Demos and Inspiring Panels:
    • Unfiltered & Uncut:Chef Tom Colicchio + special guest:  Unfiltered & Uncut
    • B&B Talks:“Break The Bootlegger featuring Julian P. Van Winkle III & Edward Lee”: Join Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery president Julian P. Van Winkle III and Chef Edward Lee for a discussion of identifying authenticity and the real cost of counterfeiting in bourbon, and beyond.
    • Love & Fried Chicken with Carla Hall
    • Why Rye?: Anthony Falco + guest discuss the journey of ancient grains and what they mean to the art of pizza and distilling.
    • Taste Trifecta:  Chris Cosentino, Edward Lee & Mathew Landan (of Haymarket)
    • Young Guns: Erling Wu-Bower & Cosmo Goss, move over Jon & Vinny! (I know we can’t print that but you get my drift)
    • B&B Talks: “The Wonder Women of Whiskey”: From distilling to distributing, branding to bartending meet a few of the women who are leading calling the shots in the bourbon business.
      • Marianne Barnes, Master Distiller, Castle & Key Distillery
      • Jane Bowie, maturation specialist, Maker’s Mark
      • Jane Danger & Alla Lapuschik, authors, “From Rhum to Whiskey”
      • Allisa Henley, Master Distiller, Sazerac Tennesse
      • Andrea Wilson, GM & VP, Michter’s Distillery
      • Moderator: Susan Reigler, author, “Kentucky Bourbon Country”
      • The B&B Supper Club featuring Edward Lee & Chris Cosentino, Hosted by Jefferson’s Bourbon: Following in the footsteps of the completely sold-out B&B Supper Club hosted by Angel’s Envy featuring Tom Colicchio , we are proud to announce The B&B Supper Club featuring Chris Cosentino & Edward Lee. This 30-person ultra-exclusive dinner on Sunday gives you a stellar view of the stage.
      • The Chicks & Champs Gospel Brunch: Traditional, Hot or Karaage, attendees to choose their favorite fried chicken style and sip sparkling wine with Cosmo Goss & Erling Wu-Bower on Saturday and Carla Hall on Sunday.

Curated by Fred Minnick, Edward Lee, and Chris Cosentino, Bourbon & Beyond has partnered with some of the best Kentucky bourbon distilleries to offer a rich taste of Kentucky and Bourbon with unique tasting experiences directly with the Master Distillers and their exceptionally crafted spirits.

  • BOURBON DISTILLERY PARTNERS:These acclaimed associations and distilleries will all be featured and showcased during the festival: Heaven Hill, Buffalo Trace, Angels Envy, Barton 1792, Jim Beam, Bulleit, Boone County Distilling Company, Four Roses, Maker’s Mark Distillery, MB Roland Distillery, Michters Distillery, New Riff, Brown-Foreman, Woodford Reserve Distillery, Kentucky Peerless, Rabbit Hole, Smooth Ambler and Limestone Branch Distillery. Other spirits and beverages to be featured include Jack Daniel’s, Southern Comfort and more to be announced soon.
  • Master Distiller and Bourbon Celebrity Appearances:Appearances from Bourbon Celebrities include:  Julian P. Van Winkle III of Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery, Master Distiller Harlen Wheatley and Master Blender Drew Mayville of Buffalo Trace Distillery, Master Distiller John Hargrove of Barton 1792 Distillery, Distiller Allisa Henley of Sazerac of Tennessee, Kaveh Zamanian of Rabbit Hole Distillery, Master Distiller Marianne Barnes of Castle & Key Distillery, Jane Bowie of  Maker’s Mark, Andrea Wilson of Michter’s, The Henderson Family (Wes, Andrew, Kyle) of Angel’s Envy, Trey Zoeller of Jefferson’s Bourbon.

Attendees will also get the opportunity to immerse themselves within the Kentucky bourbon world even further, from hidden speakeasies to immersive events such as:

  • The Big Bourbon Bar: Presented by the Louisville Courier-Journal, this larger than life activation will include a 20,000- sq. ft bar serving expertly crafted bourbon cocktails featuring the following, exclusive Bourbon partners: 1792, Angel’s Envy, Barrell, Basil Hayden’s, Blade and Bow, Bloody Butcher’s Creed, Buffalo Trace, Bulleit, Coopers’ Craft, Eagle Rare, Eighteen 33, Four Roses, Hartfield & Co., Jefferson’s, Jim Beam, Kentucky Peerless, Knob Creek, Maker’s Mark, MB Roland, Michter’s, O.K.I., Old Forester, Rabbit Hole, Smooth Ambler, W. L. Weller, Woodford Reserve, and Yellowstone.
  • The Haymarket Hunter’s Club:A bourbon hound’s dream come true with experimental, rare, and hard-to-find bourbons.
  • The Brown-Forman Cooperage:Brown-Forman is the only major spirits company in the entire world to make its own new barrels, and Bourbon & Beyond is very excited to partner with The Brown-Forman Cooperage to offer festivalgoers the experience of witnessing the historic art of barrel raising and featuring Old Forrester, Woodford Reserve, Coopers’ Craft and Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey.
  • Down The Rabbit Hole Speakeasy: Rabbit Hole invites you to go Down The Rabbit Hole into an exclusive bar hidden off the beaten path featuring cocktails by Proprietors LLC, the team behind Death & Co. That’s all we can say for now – figuring out how to get in will be entirely up to you!
  • Booker Noe’s Small Batch Bar:Booker Noe was a sixth-generation master distiller who grew up at a distillery in the heart of Kentucky. He was born to bourbon. He actually coined the term “small batch.” And if you can find Booker Noe’s Small Batch Bar, you’ll be one of the lucky guests to taste and experience what Booker believed in: Like bourbon, life is best enjoyed in slower, smaller batches. Head here and enjoy some Basil Hayden, Knob Creek and Baker’s.
  • The Smooth Ambler Saloon:Hidden somewhere on the grounds of Bourbon & Beyond is The Smooth Ambler Saloon, a speakeasy featuring Old Scout bourbon cocktails. Stay tuned for details on how to get in!
  • Bourbon Workshops:Access to bourbon’s best and brightest in a series of free and intimate distilling, bartending, pairing, and cooking workshops.

Along with the world-class musical performances happening throughout the weekend and on the two main music stages, Bourbon & Beyond’s BIG BOURBON BAR will also include bluegrass music all weekend long curated by The Bluegrass Situation and featuring The Steel Wheels, Mipso, Town Mountain, Love Canon, NewTown, The Tillers and Reva Dawn Salon. Bourbon & Beyond’s Resident DJ’s also join the mix with Coat Check Pool Party DJ’s, Craig Pfunder, Derby City Soul Club and, Johnny Siegel spinning all weekend long at the parties.

They join the headliners of the weekend Stevie Nicks, Eddie Vedder, Steve Miller Band, Band of Horses, Joe Bonamassa, Gary Clark Jr., Paul Rodgers, Amos Lee, Buddy Guy, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Jonny Lang, G. Love & Special Sauce, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, ZZ Ward, Nikki Lane, Shawn James & The Shapeshifters, Fantastic Negrito, Kiefer Sutherland, Dave Cavalier, bluegrass favorites curated by The Bluegrass Situation, and more.

The Bourbon & Beyond Festival is sure to be the most unforgettable and inspiring experience of music, food and bourbon yet. Like the flames that char the barrels, the hearth that nourishes our appetites, or the heart of an incredible beat, soul and passion will radiate throughout the Bourbon & Beyond festival.

For tickets and more details on the full line up of Food & Beverage Partners, please visit


EDT EXCLUSIVE: Bourbon & Beyond sales pitch details highly ambitious, whiskey-centered festival

If Danny Wimmer Presents (DWP) can pull off even half of what it’s proposing to do for the inaugural Bourbon & Beyond event in September, the celebration of Kentucky food, drink and music will be a major hit. But that’s a big if.

DWP’s plans are exceptionally ambitious, especially for a large-scale event set to run the weekend of Sept. 23-24, less than six months from now.

Our deeper look into the makings of Bourbon & Beyond came from a PDF sales deck originally sent to Kentucky bourbon distillers and later supplied to Eat Drink Talk. Its stated mission is, “To blend the best of a bourbon festival, a food festival, and a music festival into a new and exciting format for casual drinkers, foodies, and music lovers.” But the pitch reveals much more. The two-day festival will center on bourbon education, cocktail making, Louisville neighborhood restaurant food exhibits, larger-scale private dinners, music concerts, comedy and storytelling performances.

Bourbon & Beyond will be held at Champions Park on River Road, where DWP believes it can attract 50,000 visitors. Such crowds are the same size drawn to the park for DWP’s Louder than Life heavy metal concert, held each fall. So it’s not out of the question that organizers can handle the numbers.

A snip from a page in the sales pitch to Kentucky distillers.

A snip from a page in the sales pitch to Kentucky distillers.

But several questions remain about whether it can execute such a broad vision—especially when there’s no indication that Kentucky distillers are on board. According to Eric Gregory, president of the Kentucky Distillers Association (KDA) in Frankfort, his constituents are planning a meeting to discuss not only whether they want to be involved, but whether they can be.

“We are working to learn more, and our members have asked us to coordinate a meeting with the organizers,” Gregory said in a statement.

As scheduled, Bourbon & Beyond follows one week after the Kentucky Bourbon Festival. In its 26th year, it remains the state’s largest bourbon event, attracting more than 50,000 people to Bardstown over six days. Kentucky distillers are heavily involved in the festival, and commit considerable staff and liquor resources. Guests can spend next to nothing or as much as $175 to attend specific events.

KDA members also are deeply involved in the annual Kentucky Bourbon Affair, held this year from June 6-11. This multi-day, multi-session event is a high-end “fantasy camp” that draws bourbon lovers from around the country, some of whom regard it as a bucket list item. Affair prices range from $125 to $250. As with the Bourbon Festival, distilleries commit significant resources to the Affair—which is capped off with the second-annual Whisky Live Louisville on June 10. Cost for that event is $149 for regular admission, $199 for VIP admission.

As one industry source told me confidentially, “How many dollars can anyone expect bourbon fans to spend on this many events in such a short period of time?”

EatDrinkTalk requested an interview with DWP but was told via email that the organizer would like to wait until “the line up is set and ready to be announced mid-April.”

So here are all the proposed details we have so far, wrapped up into summary including some paraphrasing, quotes from the sales pitch, and with some remarks of ours added in:

Bourbon & Beyond is a bourbon festival for the casual drinker: From the pitch: “We are creating an immersive destination to weave bourbons into fun interactive experiences and hands-on workshops; no tastings or exhibits. (EDT is not clear on what “no tastings or exhibits” means.) Our target audience is the casual drinker, diverse 24- to 40-year-olds, even split of 50% male and 50% female … and (our) secondary target is bourbon aficionados, high-income 40- to 55-year-olds.”

This will all come with a “deliciously approachable food festival,” including chefs “to deliver creatively-elevated and affordable concessions; no all-you-can-eat formats or expensive tasting pavilions.”

Expect “additional nighttime events, group tours, as well as pre- and post-festival experiences extend throughout the greater Kentucky area.”

A page snip containing a few of the famous faces who might appear at Bourbon & Beyond.

A page snip containing a few of the famous faces who might appear at Bourbon & Beyond.

“Bourbon Experiences.” These include re-creations of cooperages and distilleries, as well as “Secret Speakeasies” hidden throughout the festival grounds and requiring a different method of entry to each. The pitch mentions a miniature version of The Bourbon Trail (which I’m confident the KDA will put its foot down about the use of that trademarked name) and a Rare Bar … that’s “limited to only the most discerning of bourbon drinkers, but those who gain admittance are rewarded with access to a comfortable and relaxing lounge with some of the toughest-to-find bourbons in the world.”

Bourbon Workshops seem pretty straightforward and include discussions of distillation, bartending and cooking with bourbon.

The food component is a three-tier affair blending Restaurant Rows, Culinary Experiences and The Feasts.

Restaurant Rows are exhibits bearing the names of some of the city’s most notable restaurant neighborhoods. (One assumes they will be operated by staffs from restaurants located in those Rows.) They include A Taste of The Highlands; Downtown; Frankfort Avenue Trolley Hop; Germantown Biergarten; and NuLu Fest.

Culinary Experiences are described thusly: “Louisville chefs collaborate with chefs from across the country on developing themed culinary experiences. Each experience is inspired by a musical genre and offers delicious dishes, craft cocktails, and plenty of entertainment guaranteed to impress even the most cynical foodie. (EDT note: If anyone knows what a “cynical foodie” is, please tell us.) Culinary Experiences include Tiki Disco (no details); Funk & Soul & BBQ (“pitmasters challenged to cook different styles of barbecue … bartenders shaking “delicious throwback cocktails and spontaneously organize soul train dance parties”); and Riot Grill (no details).

Feasts: Described as, “Smaller groups of festivalgoers are invited to the feasts; where chefs curate an entire dining experience at the festival. These ticketed events offer guests the chance to sit down, relax, and enjoy more interactive or immersive experience, with plenty of bourbon pairings.” There are three: The Big Easy Crawfish Boil; Fried Chicken & Champagne; and Bourbon Beefsteak Bacchanal. (EDT note: We’re thinking “smaller groups” does not mean small groups, but rather groups of 100 or more.)

Music, Comedy & Talks are described this way: “Our potential lineup is a diverse, eclectic, and exciting collection of musicians, comedians, and personalities who embody the passion and soul of Bourbon & Beyond and are guaranteed to attract our target audience of 24- to 55-year-old bourbon drinkers from a 300-mile radius.” Were it not for some pictures of folks like Aziz Ansari, Amy Schumer, Anthony Bourdain, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and My Morning Jacket’s Jim James, we’d not know who DWP might be suggesting. Whether these headliners are have signed on or their images are being used as placeholders, we don’t know.

Celebrities to take the stage for Convos & Demos include “some of the most influential and leading personalities in bourbon, food, drink, and industry to participate in conversations and demonstrations. Ideas include cooking demonstrations, father-son distiller conversations, speed bartending competitions.” A few celebs pictured are local chefs Edward Lee (610 Magnolia, MilkWood) and Annie Pettry (Decca), along with Maker’s Mark’s Bill and Rob Samuels (father and son, but not distillers), and actor Matthew McConaughey, who became a Wild Turkey spokesman last year.

Though many more details are in the sales pitch, we’ll stop here and promise to share more as we talk to DWP and distillers around the state.

End note: We at Eat Drink Talk are not against Bourbon & Beyond—at all. We only hope the Los Angeles-based Danny Wimmer Presents can succeed in bringing a large-scale event that celebrates Kentucky’s whiskey, food, distillers and chefs in an exceptional manner. We’re eager to hear the final details and learn who in the Bluegrass will assist in making this happen.

No Louisville food and drink fest until at least 2017

Louisville skyline

No Bourbon & Beyond here until at least 2017–if then!

Louisville’s dreams for a food and drink festival aren’t any nearer to reality than they were two-and-a-half years ago when a committee was convened to make it happen. Seems a lot of problems abound, not the least of which is too many voices in the room, no single visionary driving it and no clear vision of how it best would become uniquely Louisville.

An email from the office of Mayor Greg Fisher–who tentatively wants to name the event, “Bourbon & Beyond”– says the event will not take place until 2017. Check out this portion of it:

“We had hoped to launch the festival this summer, but after much discussion with those involved — including local chefs and distillers and our production partner, Wimmer Presents – we realized that 2016 was too aggressive. …

“When we advised Wimmer Presents that we were not comfortable proceeding with the event this year, they indicated that they would continue to develop a bourbon/food festival, host the event, and assume all financial risk and all planning and production for a 2017 festival. This is a great solution for all involved as our city will have another bourbon/food festival without city government assuming any of the risk.”

Yet committee members I’ve spoken with call that number laughable since no significant plans have been made.

I’d agree, especially given the lack of talk I’m getting from committee members, people who usually throw me bits of information when they’re excited about different developments. Their reticence implies little to no progress.

Louisville’s restaurant scene is regularly getting national attention as an up-and-comer. And it’s widely believed that it’s ready to host a significant coming out party and bring people here to eat. And drink. Be it cocktails or our waves of bourbon, drinking is important also.

Yet it’s not so important that the current name under discussion, Bourbon & Beyond, bears no mention of food.

Bardstown has The Bourbon Festival, Lexington hosts The Bourbon Shindig and Louisville hosts The Bourbon Classic and The Bourbon Affair. Though there’s plenty to eat at all of those, none mentions food because bourbon is the star of those shows.

But any idea of a Louisville festival must be rooted in restaurants, and its name needs to include food.

Real nuts and bolts marketing sense, right? Yet apparently such a concept beyond some committee members’ grasp.

The very word “Beyond” begs the question, “Beyond freakin’ what!?!” The word drips with vagueness.

Event producer Danny Wimmer Presents has been hired to manage the event, yet according to its website, its core business is large-scale rock concerts, such as Louder Than Life, hosted here the past couple of years. The addition of a restaurant food and a bourbon pavilion into the fest was well received. Yet did that small success give Wimmer the gumption to believe it can scale up such an effort into a large festival? Apparently the Mayor’s Office is convinced it can.

But here’s where the whole thing can stall interminably: If you don’t get the cooperation of local restaurateurs, you have no festival. Right now there are several disgruntled chefs and owners who’ve lost their enthusiasm for this event. Some have said, “I already spend so much time outside my restaurant working for charity,” and “Am I really going to take time away from my business and family to get involved in something that doesn’t even mention food in the name?”

Their tension levels are rising, and as far as I can tell, there’s little to show for anyone’s effort so far.

That leads me to believe that Beyond in the name of this festival means well beyond a 2017 start date—if then.