Flooded with Fame at the Bourbon & Beyond Festival

A few weeks ago, I had the amazing opportunity to participate in Bourbon & Beyond – an annual two-day rock concert and bourbon festival at beautiful Champion’s Park in Downtown Louisville. Bourbon & Beyond is just one of a series of bourbon related festivals produced by Danny Wimmer Productions and boasted a legendary rockstar lineup of Sheryl Crow, Lenny Kravitz, Sting and others. However, the entertainment was just a backdrop to the reason why I was there. The common denominator that is behind all of DWP’s productions in Louisville and it’s shining star headliner is and will always be bourbon.  
 
Curated by Fred Minnick, Bourbon & Beyond was set to feature two days of bourbon programming that showcased the best that the bourbon industry has to offer - the bourbon famous and the elite. Master Distillers, Brand Ambassadors, writers, bloggers, podcasters, journalists, mixologists and yours truly all hit the stage to share our love of the spirit, give tips on how to drink it, and deliver the most up to date information on what’s going on in the Bourbon World today. I had the privilege of moderating a panel called ‘Value Bourbon’ with Josh Hollifield, Brand Specialist from Barton 1792 Distillery, the beautiful Beth Burrows, Beam Suntory’s Kentucky Bourbon Ambassador, and my favorite buddy, Bernie Lubbers, Brand Ambassador for Heaven Hill Distillery. 
 
Value Bourbon is described as bourbons that retail for under $30. There are a lot of great bourbons that fall into this category but not many of them get the praise they deserve. To give my panelists the most time to effectively brag about their brands, I asked only one question. Besides the price, how do you determine the value of Bourbon? The answers varied but were pretty consistent, “It’s all in how you make it”…  And with that revelation, we tasted 3 amazing ‘value’ bourbons: 1792 Small Batch, Knob Creek 100 proof, and the San Francisco World Spirits Competition winner for World’s Best Bourbon, Henry McKenna 10-Year. 
 
The panel discussion was a success and the day’s schedule of programming was spectacular. The highlight of my day was getting a chance to finally meet the newly inducted Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame Legend, Freddie Johnson. I also got to spend time with my friend and mentor Chuck Cowdery, cheered on Uncle Nearest’s Founder, Fawn Weaver during her live interview with Fred Minnick, and walk arm and arm under an umbrella with Peggy Noe Stevens as we braved the rain (that was raining sideways at that point) to check out Colin’s presentation at the Stave and Thief Society tent. 
 
Despite the fact that it rained heavily the entire day and there was mud everywhere; the bourbon seminar tents were packed with eager bourbon enthusiasts. But due to the inclement weather and the park being completely flooded out; Champion’s Park was deemed unsafe and Day 2 of Bourbon and Beyond was canceled.  

Even though short lived, the experience I had at Bourbon and Beyond was amazing. I got a chance to catch up with all of my famous bourbon buddies and made valuable connections within the industry. Oh! And I got to finally meet my famous/infamous buddy; the one and only, Evan Haskill. Day officially made!

Originally Published for the Bourbon Zeppelin on October 1, 2018.

Samara Rivers1 Comment