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2018 KBF sees new events, bids adieu to some others

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This year marks the 27th Kentucky Bourbon Festival, and while it has retained many of its longtime traditions, there are changes every year.

One of this year’s biggest changes is the calendar, as KBF condenses to a five-day schedule beginning Wednesday.

Also, two longtime regular events — the Balloon Glow and Boots & Bourbon — have been put on temporary hiatus.

“We felt like both of those needed kind of a refresh,” said Jill Hawkins, the festival’s executive director.

Taking Boots & Bourbon’s traditional Thursday night slot is a revamped Flights of Bourbon at Samuels Field, the Bardstown-Nelson County Airport. Co-sponsored by Sazerac-owned Buffalo Trace and Barton 1792, the event features samples from those distilleries. In addition, Flights of Bourbon features a VIP experience that includes early entry and exclusive pours.

Another new VIP option for this year is for the Sampler, which allows guests early entry and first chance at the always-popular collectible whiskey glasses.

The VIP Loft Experience at Spalding Hall takes advantage of the KBF’s new home offices and has been renovated from recent years. Weeklong and day passes are available for the Loft, now in its fourth year. Guests can relax and enjoy food and drink apart from all the daily hustle-and-bustle on the Spalding Hall lawn, and bourbon industry dignitaries are encouraged to visit. Joy Perrine, famous as the “Bad Girl of Bourbon,” will serve as guest bartender.

“You just never know who’s going to come here,” Hawkins said.

With Spalding Hall the new home of the KBF offices, more events are being hosted in the building’s historic chapel, such as A Whiskey and its Grains, Bourbon Cocktail Mixology and Sip & Savor, which gives attendees an opportunity to experience bourbon paired with chocolate and country ham.

Flavors of Fermentation is a new event this year Friday morning in the Spalding Hall Chapel, where guests will learn about yeast and its impact on the distilling process. Another new event at the chapel is Saturday morning’s Science of Maturation event, which explores what happens inside a barrel while bourbon is aging, and how that informs the flavor of the finished product.

Saturday’s feature event at the Spalding Hall Chapel is the annual Master Distiller’s Auction, where guests have a chance to bid on artifacts from the bourbon industry’s deep history. The event serves as the biggest fundraiser for the Oscar Getz Whiskey Museum, also in Spalding Hall.

Bourbontowne debuted last year on the Spalding Hall Lawn, and it has been moved closer to the action for a higher profile. Those with tickets can sample premium bourbons and meet-and-greet with various bourbon industry dignitaries.

In addition to the Kentucky Bourbon Festival’s commitment to the community in which it resides, last year the KBF debuted its first-ever responsibility statement.

“Bourbon is a good thing. Too much Bourbon? Not a good thing. Consume with care,” the statement reads.

“We want our guests to always be mindful and safe when they consume,” Hawkins said of the responsibility statement.