A Brief History of Louisville’s Bourbon and Beyond

Everyone knows that Kentucky is the world’s bourbon capital. What better way is there to celebrate this recognition other than to do it festival style? That’s exactly what Louisville will be doing for the second year in a row this year with the Bourbon & Beyond Festival. This festival is a celebration of all things bourbon and everything good that comes along with it—music, food, and company. The festival attracts some of the biggest names in music and draws in thousands of people from all walks of life to enjoy a weekend full of bourbon.

The festival just started last year and was a concept derived from other successful festivals such as the Rock on the Range, Carolina Rebellion, and Epicenter. What all these festivals have in common is Danny Wimmer, the former record executive at labels including Epic, Atlantic, and Flawless/Geffen. He left that business in order to get into the business of music festivals. With his new production company, DWP or Danny Wimmer Presents, they came up with a bourbon-inspired festival to create an expansion of the experiences and cultures that are typical with festivals. Wimmer wanted to push the boundaries that put music, food, and spirits together in festivals. This meant that they needed to somehow make the festival experience better altogether—starting with better foods and better bourbons.

It’s a simple enough concept, but the execution of it required a tremendous amount of work. Wimmer teamed up with Fred Minnick and Edward Lee for the task. Minnick is an authority when it comes to bourbon, and Lee is a celebrated Louisville chef. Together, they came up with ways to present the best elements of Kentucky’s soul and spirit into a weekend. The goal was to feature Kentucky’s master distillers, the best bourbons, and the best local chefs and bartenders through Bourbon & Beyond. What Wimmer didn’t predict then was that the festival was going to go way beyond all of that.

The first festival showcased over 50 of the best Kentucky bourbons as curated by Minnick and Lee. Last year’s festival featured exciting bourbon experiences—from the best bourbon cocktails to the most experimental and hard-to-find bourbons. Festivalgoers also got a chance to go behind-the-scenes on how bourbon is crafted and what it means to be a bourbon distiller. There were also many workshops featured to highlight other bourbon experiences such as distilling, pairing, and cooking with bourbon.

Aside from the premier bourbon experience, the foods featured in the festival were also the best in the industry. Celebrity and high-profile chefs such as Tom Colicchio, Carla Hall, Anthony Lamas, Chris Cosentino, and many others were just some of the names that were featured in Bourbon & Beyond’s first year. And that’s not all. With great food and great drinks comes great music as well. Some of the artists that provided the best entertainment last year included Stevie Nicks, Eddie Vedder, Band of Horses, Amos Lee, Steve Miller Band, and so much more.

This year’s Bourbon & Beyond festival will be happening on September 22 to 23 in the only place where you can have the world’s best bourbon, Louisville, Kentucky.

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