Kentucky Bourbon Festival - Bardstown, Kentucky

The Kentucky Bourbon Festival, the nation’s original bourbon festival, has been going strong since 1991. We’ve got both good and bad news from festival organizers. The good news is the Kentucky Bourbon Festival that takes place September 14-17, 2023, has sold out. The bad news is, if you don’t already have a ticket, this year’s event is sold out. On the bright side we already have the dates for next year. Mark your calendar for next year’s Kentucky Bourbon Festival happening September 13-15, 2024.

Kentucky Bourbon Festival Goes the Way of Bourbon

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The popularity of bourbon has ebbed and flowed over the last century. Its image has gone from a drink that only your father or grandfather drank to one that is enjoyed equally by men, women, and younger folks as well. It’s moved from a harsh distilled spirit that gets tossed back barely touching one’s tongue to one that gets slowly sipped so imbibers can enjoy every tasting note that the bourbon and oak barrel its rested in for the last four to 20 years is savored and enjoyed. Those rich caramel, vanilla and buttery notes are enjoyed as they slowly travel across your palette before giving that warm Kentucky hug. It’s all about that hug.

If you are looking for more insights on the proper way to drink bourbon using the Kentucky Chew and how you get that warm Kentucky Hug watch this video from 7th Generation Master Distiller Fred Noe. Just like your favorite bourbon this video is uncut and unfiltered.

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As it’s gained in popularity over the years it has also grown from just a drink to more of a lifestyle. There are now literally hundreds of festivals, clubs, and associations all over the country that celebrate America’s Native Spirit like the Bourbon Brotherhood, Whisky Chicks, Bourbon Women Association, The Black Bourbon Society and the list goes on. There are also numerous movies and TV shows.

Just like bourbon has grown up over the last 30 years, so has the Kentucky Bourbon Festival. No longer is it the hay bale and corn dog festival. As the bourbon industry has moved more into the premium and super-premium category, so has the Kentucky Bourbon Festival. Attendees of the festival are coming to Bardstown, Nelson County, Kentucky, the Bourbon Capital of the World from all over the world. In fact the vast majority of attendees come from outside of Kentucky.

Kentucky Bourbon Festival - World Championship Bourbon Barrel Relay Race - 10 Barrels
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Heaven Hill Distillery women’s team competes at the International Bourbon Barrel Relay Race.

The amber spirit that gives the festival its name has been on a roll now for more than a decade. Though the legal definition for bourbon hasn’t changed the Kentucky Bourbon Festival has grown along with the bourbon boom. The one-time hay bale and corn dog festival has grown up and is now focused on the amber spirit that gives the festival its name more than ever. A shifting of the festival has been allowed as archaic state laws have slowly been chipped away at that now allow for spirits tastings and bottle sales at the festival. It’s hard to imagine but it’s only been a few years that distilleries have been allowed to promote the idea of “sips to lips” at the festival where consumers can taste an array of spirits. And not only can they taste but they can purchase bottles, many exclusive, right on the festival grounds.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming bourbon enthusiasts back to Bardstown for the 33rd year,” said Randy Prasse, COO and president of the festival. “We could not be more excited for guests to see what we have planned.”

General admission tickets for the 2023 festival are officially sold out, for the second consecutive year — with VIP packages selling out in the first three minutes when they were released in May. The festival features expanded opportunities for bourbon enthusiasts to engage with the most sought-after brands alongside engaging and immersive educational experiences. With 85% of its ticketed guests visiting from outside of Kentucky, the event continues to serve as an important tourism and economic engine for the entire region. 

“Each year we improve every aspect of the Kentucky Bourbon Festival experience,” said David Mandell, board chair of the Kentucky Bourbon Festival. “We could not be more proud of what we’ve created as we’re seeing the incredible response from whiskey enthusiasts from across the country and the world.”

The Kentucky Bourbon Festival is presented by The Koetter Group, a third-generation owned family business specializing in construction, real estate, building services and K-Rax premium spirits barrel storage systems. The Koetter Group is the festival’s presenting sponsor for 2023-2025.

An on-sale date for 2024 tickets will be announced in the future. Subscribers to the Kentucky Bourbon Festival e-newsletter receive advance notice of ticket sales, special events and other news.

The Kentucky Bourbon Festival is a celebration of Kentucky Bourbon and the Bourbon Capital of the World, Bardstown, Kentucky. What began as a Bourbon tasting dinner has grown into a truly authentic experience that brings together bourbon enthusiasts from all over the world. Started in 1991, the Kentucky Bourbon Festival is one of the Commonwealth’s leading cultural festivals.

View all Bardstown and Nelson County Distilleries.
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