First scheduled for fall 2020, then postponed to fall 2021, the Louisiana Bourbon Festival is finally back on track for this month. But it will look a bit different than originally planned.
Hosted by the Bourbon Society of Baton Rouge, the festival was envisioned as a one-day extravaganza of bourbon-infused revelry. But in order to ensure the event remains accessible to all during the pandemic, it has been divvied up into a month-long series of both live and virtual events.
“In a way, it’s a blessing,” says David Steele, president and co-founder of Baton Rouge Bourbon Society. “It’s a way to reach out to the community in a bigger sense, because we have more opportunities for people to connect with us.”
The festival kicked off this past Friday with the Bourbon Fest Ladies Night, and it will be followed throughout October with a variety of events including a virtual, guided tasting of Jim Beam whiskeys hosted by Jim Beam National Brand Ambassador Adam Harris; a live, limited-capacity bourbon masterclass with Louisiana Bourbon Society’s own David Steele and vice president Dorothy Kemp; a virtual bourbon-and-cigar pairing featuring Havana Port cigars, and many more unique experiences. A full calendar of events can be found here.
At the Ladies Night kickoff, guests sampled a variety of craft cocktails made with Country Smooth spirits at Hayride Scandal on Corporate Boulevard, a speakeasy-style lounge known for its unique, sophisticated atmosphere.
It was an event Dorothy Kemp says she and her colleagues at the Bourbon Society have long wanted to put on, but for which they hadn’t found an opportunity until this year’s unusual, expanded version of the festival.
But the Louisiana Bourbon Festival isn’t just about drinking bourbon.
All the proceeds of the various installations of the festival will benefit Alzheimer’s Services of the Capital Area, a local nonprofit that provides assistance and education to those affected by Alzheimer’s and other memory-related impairments.
“We know how to have a great time,” Kemp says, “and we know how to raise money for great organizations.”