People are always asking me what to do this time of year, so I’ve rounded up a list of potential items for your consideration. You’ll probably see me at many of these events around town and around the state!
The Great Steamboat Race
I don’t know why, maybe it’s because I grew up on the river, but The Great Steamboat Race has always been my favorite event at the Kentucky Derby Festival. A few years ago I had the opportunity to take my kids on the Belle of Cincinnati and ever since, they have wanted to go on the Belle of Louisville so they could be on the winning boat. Four Roses sponsors this and several other Derby Festival events, so I’m sure we will have a great time in good company.
The Stitzel-Weller Affair
Many decades ago when Pappy Van Winkle opened Stitzel-Weller distillery outside of Louisville after Prohibition he would throw an annual Derby/spring homecoming party on the lawn. Now that Bulleit, I.W. Harper, and Blade and Bow call the historic site home, they have decided to carry on the tradition of a yearly homecoming party just in time to celebrate the Kentucky Derby. This year’s party is hosted by Blade and Bow Whiskey and Garden & Gun Magazine. This beautifully catered party takes place under twinkling lights at long family-style tables. Happening Friday May 5. Purchase tickets here.
Tour Jeptha Creed
Jeptha Creed Distillery in Shelbyville has been open a few months now and if you haven’t been it’s definitely worth taking a look. Rumor has it they will have a small quantity of bourbon left to release around Derby time. And if you need an additional bit of motivation here’s a Groupon. Jeptha Creed has a great bar with snacks if you are winding down from a day of shopping at the outlet mall.
Buy Rye Whiskey At Kentucky Peerless
It’s hard to believe that Kentucky Peerless has been distilling long enough to have a two year old rye whiskey coming out, but that’s just what is happening on May 20th. The event is listed as running from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., but if you know anything about bottle hunters you know it will last from 10 a.m. to 10:03 a.m. See their Facebook page for updates on this release and wish them a happy birthday when you go! (Rumor has it you can reserve a bottle here.)
Take A Cocktail Class
There are so many new options here for cocktail classes that it may take me a few months to go check them all out. Here are the most recent additions to the regular schedule:
Jim Beam Urban Stillhouse now offers a hands-on cocktail crafting class to guests. For $18 you will get an array of mixers, garnishes, and Jim Beam products (including 2016 NYISC double gold winner Jim Beam Black Bourbon) from which to choose as well as instruction on various cocktails which will rotate after one month. These classes begin at the top of every hour. After you finish the cocktail the glass is yours to keep! No reservations necessary.
Copper & Kings American Brandy Distillery now offers a private mixology class tour, which includes a 30 minute distillery tour, a one hour mixology class and two cocktails. Prices start at $20 per person, making this a great way to kick off a bachelor or bachelorette party or even just a group outing for Derby season. Reservations are recommended.
For a list of the best places to sip bourbon during Derby season, click here.
Maggie Kimberl is a bourbon writer focusing on bourbon culture and tourism in Louisville and Kentucky. When she's not covering the bourbon beat you can find her browsing through vintage vinyl with her kids or tending to her homegrown tomatoes. Follow her on Twitter https://twitter.com/LouGirl502 Instagram https://www.instagram.com/lougirl502/ and check out her blog LouGirl502.com.