The New Orleans Bourbon Festival is coming up on its second year in March. This is the kind of idea that makes you wonder why no one has ever thought of having a Bourbon festival in New Orleans before. It’s such an obvious choice, yet with all the other festivities like Mardi Gras and the Jazz Festival this obviously perfect fit flew under the radar until just last year.
Fortunately this grevious error has been corrected by some enterprising locals and the New Orleans Bourbon Festival will be back again this year bigger and better than ever.
So why is New Orleans the perfect place for a Bourbon festival? Here are five reasons:
1. New Orleans was historically the main market for exports of Kentucky WhiskeyBack on the frontier days Whiskey was one of the few things that would make it down the river for transport and there was high demand even in those days.
It is also likely that the charred barrels we know and love today began to be used because merchants wanted to compete with the French Brandy that was so popular at the time.
2. It is disputed that Bourbon Street in New Orleans inspired the Whiskey's nameBecause of that historic relationship, there’s a good possibility that the name of Kentucky’s native spirit came from its relative popularity on Bourbon Street. As people started to be able to ride steam boats back up the river they could make the trip back and forth both more quickly and more frequently.
Some people, including Bourbon Historian Michael Veach, believe it was on this journey where people may have started to request “some of that Old Bourbon Street Whiskey” from their bartenders.
3. New Orleans is a growing hotbed for Bourbon barsPeople there are craving the knowledge that comes along with their newfound passion. Bars like The Avenue Pub, Dickie Brennan’s Bourbon House, and Barrel Proof NOLA are serving a strong desire to try new Bourbons, which is leading to a population of Bourbon lovers wanting to learn more about their favorite spirit.
4. The cocktail culture is strong in New OrleansThis is, after all, the home of the Sazerac cocktail, Peychaud’s bitters, and The Museum of the American Cocktail. The bartenders in the cocktail bars truly know what they are doing, and it shines through in the tender love and care they show each cocktail.
5. Buffalo Trace’s parent company, Sazerac, is headquartered in New OrleansThe business ties between the Kentucky Bourbon industry and The Big Easy are quite literal. And to satisfy the need for more education, The Sazerac Homeplace and Museum will be opening to visitors in late 2018.
If you still need convincing, you probably don’t love Bourbon as much as you say you do.
In addition to more Bourbon than you can fathom in a single location, there will also be great educational seminars. This year’s lineup will include speakers like Bourbon Historian Michael Veach, Jim Beam’s Fred and Freddie Noe, Maker’s Mark’s Rob Samuels, Wild Turkey’s Eddie and Bruce Russell, Fred Minnick, and more. I will be teaching two Bourbon and cigar pairing seminars, as well, and I hope to see you there!