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The Kentucky Bourbon Festival, the grand-daddy of all bourbon festivals, has been taking place in Bardstown, Kentucky, The Bourbon Capital of the World, since 1991. The festival is a chance for Bardstown to share America’s Native Spirit with the rest of the world. The event covers multiple days and offers a variety of spirits, food and entertainment. One of the fan favorite entertainment options is the bourbon barrel relay race.

What is the World Championship Bourbon Barrel Relay?

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When it comes to the face of bourbon brands it is often the Master Distiller or perhaps a long-ago ancestor of one of the founders of the distillery that tends to get top billing. The World Championship Bourbon Barrel Relay Race gives the folks that roll barrels every day in the rickhouses a chance to step out into the spotlight to support their brand.

The Bourbon Barrel Relay race is broken into four categories.

  1. Women’s Individual – 5 Barrels
  2. Women’s Team – 10 Barrels
  3. Men’s Individual – 5 Barrels
  4. Men’s Team – 10 Barrels

The individuals and teams race against the clock as they roll barrels around a square track simulating what they do everyday in a warehouse. Not only does the time matter but the position where the bung lands matters too. Just like they are rolling barrels in a rick to age for four or more years they want the bung to land straight up. And the barrel has to have the DSP – Distilled Spirits Plant number info on the proper side. In the case of the race, it means the Independent Stave Company logo, the race’s sponsor, must show up in the right side of the rick.

The race is scored based on time, position of the logo and accuracy of where the bung ends up. There is a special tool that tells if they bung is in the right place. It is about 4” wide. If the bung lands within this space it is considered a perfect score for that element of the race.

Watch as Master Distiller Steve Nally Explains the Bourbon Barrel Relay Race

World Championship Bourbon Barrel Relay - Measuring Tool
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World Championship Bourbon Barrel Relay Emcee Master Distillery Steve Nally.

Watch the video to learn all the details about how the scoring works from Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame and Bardstown Bourbon Company Master Distiller Steve Nally. Steve plays the emcee for the race and offers us insights into how the teams prepare for the race and how the scoring works.

Watch the Bourbon Barrel Relay Race

You can also watch the video to see the top two finishers from the four divisions from the most recent race. As you will see, this is a very competitive race. These barrels masters are moving around 500+ lbs barrels, in the shape of a football, with ease.

The World Championship Bourbon Barrel Relay Race is a family friendly free event that is offered each year as a part of the Kentucky Bourbon Festival. The event is typically run rain or shine. The 2022 competition is expected to be fierce, and the weather is expected to be gorgeous. We’ll see you out there.

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Men’s & Women’s Bourbon Barrel Relay Champions

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