Big Shots: Preview Of Bourbon & Beyond

Louisville knows a thing or two about its favorite distilled intoxicant and hosting musical acts. This weekend’s Bourbon & Beyond festival combines both into one potent party.

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America’s only native spirit seems to be in everyone’s cocktail glass these days. To celebrate all things bourbon, the inaugural Bourbon & Beyond festival launches in Kentucky this weekend, boasting an ambitious lineup of music, food, and whiskey. Presented by veteran music-festival producer Danny Wimmer, the two-day event takes over Champions Park just east of downtown Louisville on Saturday and Sunday for two days of near-hedonistic decadence.

First, the bourbon. Heavy hitters like Julian P. Van Winkle III of Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery, Harlen Wheatley of Buffalo Trace, Denny Potter from Heaven Hill, Wes Henderson of Angel’s Envy, and other notable distilling authorities are on tap, repping 30 or so brands. In addition, bourbon writers, experts, and celebrities will be on hand to host a slate of workshops, tastings, and talks, promising a deep dive into anything and everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the sweet stuff.

Then there’s the music. The roster of festival performers reads like a musical honor roll, from Buddy Guy, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Trombone Shorty, and other masters of their genres to iconic legends who need no introduction: Stevie Nicks, Paul Rodgers, Steve Miller, and Eddie Vedder.

Not to be outdone, the culinary offerings boast some serious star power as well. Along with lots of tasty regional restaurant representation, festival attendees get the chance to sample dishes from chefs Tom Colicchio, Carla Hall, Chris Cosentino, Ed Lee, and Amanda Freitag. For Bravo and Food Network junkies, it’s hard not to fangirl out.

With this intoxicating trifecta of food, drink, and entertainment, Bourbon & Beyond sounds like a lot to take in. Best to go in with a plan of attack, and pace yourself on consumption if you want to get through the entire two-day event intact (not to mention still standing).

All of this indulgence does come at a price, of course. Expect a single-day general admission pass to set you back $79.50 plus fees; Mint Experience VIP tickets, camping, and hotel package deals up the ante from there. Still, for hard-core bourbon (or Pearl Jam) fans, it’s hard to pass up this kind of party.

For tickets and more information, visit bourbonandbeyond.com.

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