Bourbon and whiskey lovers rejoice! The inaugural New Orleans Bourbon Festival officially kicks off this Friday (3.24), leading revelers into three brim-filled days of spirit-centric tastings, talks, and parties.
Hosted by the Convention Center Marriot & The Sugar Mill, Bourbon Fest allows one to pick their own alcoholic adventure, as a whopping 84 spirits are slated for feature throughout the festival — showcasing favorites like Bulleit and Woodford Reserve alongside smaller distillery productions by Virgil Kaine and Tuthilltown Spirits. Moderation will be key for Friday and Saturday’s Grand Tasting at The Sugar Mill, where not only will the venue be transformed into a 1920s style New Orleans speakeasy, but all bourbons will be available to taste.
If partaking in an event that'll leave you with a hangover lasting into the middle of the week doesn't fit your 9-to-5 lifestyle, Saturday afternoon’s lineup can bring one to a state of mental intoxication instead. An impressive list of speakers are scheduled to espouse all things bourbon. Greg Davis, Master Distiller and Director of Distillery Operations for Maker’s Mark, will be hosting Maker’s Farm to Bottle Process. The Women in Bourbon Panel will feature Carla Carlton, Susan Reigler, Peggy Noe Stevens on hand to discuss the ever-expanding role of women within all facets of the industry. Rounding out the list of must-see events, historian Michael Veach will lead audiences through Bourbon’s New Orleans Connection, where the “origin of Bourbon as a whiskey developed to sell in New Orleans” will be explored.
Closing out the weekend will be an Awards Brunch, where the best of the best will be celebrated. Bourbon Fest’s tickets are tiered and offered for each individual event, but the “Connoisseur” packages is NoDef's best bet. Available for both Friday and Saturday, the $189 ticket allows access to all afternoon seminars of your choice as well as an inclusive Grand Tasting experience in the evening. Most seminars have limited room, so reserving a seat is in order. 25% of profits from the festival will be donated to the St. Michael Special School.
Pro-Tip: Thursday the 23rd, in conjunction with Bourbon Fest, many area restaurants will be hosting bourbon dinner pairings priced at $130. See the full list here.
Learn more about the first ever New Orleans Bourbon Festival here.