If you appreciate bourbon in any form or fashion, then you know that Louisville, Kentucky is the Mecca of this special spirit.

While brands can be found all over the country, several dozen can be found throughout Kentucky alone.

This past weekend, Louisville hosted the 3rd installment of its popular Bourbon and Beyond festival. This 3-day event brings together the world’s best bourbon and whiskey brands in one place.

Photo by DeAnna Taylor

What makes bourbon…bourbon

If you are a whiskey connoisseur, then you know that all bourbons are whiskey, but not all whiskeys are bourbon.

In order for a spirit to be classified as bourbon, it must meet four requirements:

  • It must be made and produced in the United States
  • It must be created in an unused oak barrel.
  • It must be made up of at least 51% corn.
  • It must go into the barrel at no more than 125 proof, although it can be bottled at up to 165 proof.

The first brand to be bottled was Old Forrester back in 1870. This company is still around today and has an interactive distillery on Louisville’s Whiskey Row.

Today, there are dozens of brands on the market.

Photo by Deanna Taylor

What to expect at the festival

If there is any brand of bourbon, or whiskey, that you have been hoping to get your hand’s on, this is the place to be.

The best of the best set up tents to show off their creations to the nearly 80,000 people in attendance. While you can’t purchase actual bottles during the festival, you can try special releases in some pretty unique ways.

The majority of the vendors sell special cocktails that range in price from $11-$15. Brands like Uncle Nearest, Four Roses, Basil Hayden’s and more are sold to anyone wanting to try. Of course, you must be at least 21 to drink.

Photo by DeAnna Taylor

There are rows of food vendors from across the country as well. Everything from vegan-friendly options to giant bourbon basted turkey legs are available.

As mentioned this is a 3-day event. During that time, there are multiple stages across the outdoor fairgrounds showcasing well-known musical talents and some of the culinary and spirit industry’s stars– which included Fawn Weaver, the creator of Uncle Nearest Whiskey.

Related: Meet The Woman Behind The Whiskey Brand Paying Honoring The Enslaved Man Who Helped Jack Daniels

You can opt for a general admission ticket which will get you into the grounds or a more elevated experience with VIP and Beyond VIP.

Photo by DeAnna Taylor

During the festival weekend, some brands will have special releases at their distillery or those who may not be local to the area will host special events throughout the city as well.

Either way, if you love whiskey (and bourbon), you should definitely plan to attend one year.