Join us at the Haymarket Whiskey Bar for what will be an incredible whiskey tasting experience. | Photo courtesy of Haymarket Whiskey Bar

Members of five bourbon societies from Kentucky and Tennessee are banding together to produce a rare whiskey tasting and fundraiser on Feb. 25 to help the daughter of a couple within their ranks. Named Rare Bourbon for Rare Diseases, the event will be held at Haymarket Whiskey Bar from 7-10 p.m. next Saturday, and proceeds from sales of tickets and auction items will go to the NUBPL Foundation. The organization funds research for a very rare mitochondrial disease caused by mutations in the NUBPL gene. That malady is the source of many problems faced by 6-year-old Katherine Belle Faughn, daughter of Dave Faughn and Glenda McCoy.

According to her father, this particular manifestation of her condition is a malformed cerebellum that makes it difficult to control motor movements, balance and her force of touch.

“Her balance center is gone, and so she’ll fall from a sitting position if she moves too quickly,” Faughn said, adding that the atrophy of her cerebellum is progressive and debilitating. “Tracking with her eyes across a line to read … they bounce around. So, it’s really hard for her to focus and track.”

Katharine Bell Faunghn.
Katherine Bell Faughn.

But since mutations of the NUBPL gene have been linked to Parkinson’s disease, Faughn said he hopes further research, funded by events like this one, will lead to life-saving treatments for both NUBPL and Parkinson’s patients. (To read more about Katherine Belle’s condition, visit

Contribute to this worthy cause by enjoying some really rare whiskeys. Tickets to the event come in three separate donation levels, the first two of which include some truly rare tastings. (Since they’ve been on sale for some time, I’ve listed the number of tickets still available as of Feb. 15.)

  • Tier 1: A $250 donation (8 tickets remaining) will get guests a flight of four rare bourbons: Buffalo Trace’s OFC Vintage 1982; Pappy Van Winkle 20-year old distilled at Stitzel Weller; Willett 20-year old Family Estate (barrel C43A); a 1971 Old Grand Dad; and a bottle of a special Knob Creek Single Barrel Private Selection picked in January by members of The Bourbon Society (Louisville), The Paducah Bourbon Society, The Lexington Bourbon Society, The Owensboro Bourbon Society, and J.B.’s Whiskey House in Nashville, Tenn.
  • Tier 2: A $100 donation (1 remaining) sees guests enjoy one flight of three rare bourbons including A.H. Hirsch 16-year-old; Willett 21-year-old (barrel 3936); and a 1970s Ancient Ancient Age; plus a bottle of the aforementioned special Knob Creek Single Barrel Private Selection.
  • Tier 3: A $50 donation (56 tickets remaining) will yield guests a bottle of the aforementioned special Knob Creek Single Barrel Private Selection.

**Full disclosure: I was in on that barrel pick in January, and that bourbon is flat-out amazing. So getting it for $50 is not only a steal, it’s a tax-deductible donation, and Jim Beam master distiller Fred Noe, III, will be on hand from 7-8:30 p.m. to sign bottles.

There’s also a silent auction that night, and so far the lineup includes the following:

  • H. Taylor Sour Mash
  • H. Taylor Tornado
  • 2012 Angel’s Envy Cask Strength
  • Multiple Pappy Van Winkle releases.
  • Gift baskets from Jim Beam, Sazerac and Four Roses
  • Special bottles of private selections from participating bourbon societies (which I bet will contain some dandies).

And while you’re enjoying all that, don’t forget to dip into the Haymarket’s excellent private bourbon selection. Drink what you like, and take it home in a bottle.

The event’s organizer, Brian Shemwell, is Faughn’s cousin and president of the Paducah Bourbon Society. He said that when PBS was founded, part of its mission was to serve its community, and after several successful local fundraisers, he had the confidence to reach out to other societies to help the Faughns.

“One thing I’ve learned about these bourbon groups is they love giving and donating to help people and raise funds,” Shemwell said. “When I put it out (among the societies) that we wanted to do this, (Haymarket owner) Matt Landan was the first to respond. He’s offered up his space on a Saturday night for us to be able to pull this off. That’s incredible.”

Funds raised at the event will go toward NUBPL research at the University of California at Irvine. Get tickets by clicking here.