Distillers target connoisseurs for Bourbon Affair tour - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Distillers target connoisseurs for Bourbon Affair tour

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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Whether the mark be Maker's or Beam, opening major distilleries to tours has been key to the Bourbon Boom.

"But we're about to take it to another proof," said Eric Gregory, of the Kentucky Distillers' Association.

The Kentucky Bourbon Affair showcase, set for May 14-18, may redefine the term small batch in defining its target audience.

"We're talking about blending your own small-batch bourbon straight from the barrel," Gregory said.

Or talking turkey, with the master distillers of Wild Turkey in Lawrenceburg, rounding out the tour with a skeet shoot.

"Behind the scenes doesn't even begin to describe what's gonna be happening here," Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said in a news conference held Monday afternoon.

Ticket prices start at $100 per tour. Fifty Golden Tickets are available for $1,350 and entitle the bearer to first dibs on tours and audiences with major players in the bourbon industry.

"They'll learn the unique-ness of the product," said Joe Fraser, of Heaven Hill Distilleries. "And they-by word of mouth, they will spread  that to other people."

A fantasy-reality tour, pooling the resources and expertise of Jim Beam, Four Roses, Maker's Mark, Heaven Hill, Bulleit, Woodford Reserve, Wild Turkey and Town Branch. Several Louisville-area restaurants will provide culinary support.

It's geared to the same-type palates as those who'd drop $4,000 a bottle for Celebration Sour Mash, the signature product for Shively-based Michter's boutique distillery this past Christmas.

Michter's has been working on its own showplace distilling facility downtown for more than two years.

But it's facing a challenge; propping up the walls of the Fort Nelson building at 801 W. Main Street.

"They were willing to invest in this to make it something special," said Merrill Moter, of Joseph and Joseph Architects.

The location is a home run, almost directly across from the Louisville Slugger Museum. Moter has crafted vision for the restoration; highlighting the building's Romanesque turret.

"We're working to have the structure re-inforced by summer," he said. "We're gonna take it on a day-by-day basis, depending on what we discover."

It won't be ready in time to take advantage of the spin-off effects of the Bourbon Affair tour. But organizers aren't seeing this as a one-shot deal.

"We put this together with longevity in mind, so we're hoping that this will continue," Fraser said.

Tickets go on-sale at Noon Tuesday, online at www.kybourbonaffair.com

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