Recap: Bourbon Review Shindig

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The Bourbon Review Shindig Kicks off Fall Social Season

By Elizabeth Roach

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As crisp weather arrives and campfires beckon, the hand instinctively reaches for a snifter and the palate craves a rich, smooth bourbon as a companion for everything from tailgating to dinner parties. In the spirit of indulging those yearnings, The Bourbon Review ushered in the fall social season by hosting “The Bourbon Review Shindig.”  The event kicked off to the Bluegrass strummings of the band NewTown on a recent evening at Saxony Farm, located near Lexington, Ky.

Featuring an all-star cast of master distillers, chefs, and their accompanying wares, the Shindig paid court to a well-heeled crowd of imbibers.  Guests ranging from young professionals to seasoned connoisseurs munched on sweet potato biscuits and shrimp and grits, and sampled from an array of bourbons.

The renowned master distiller of Wild Turkey, Jimmy Russell, accepted congratulations for his 60th year at the distillery while personally pouring draughts from his Russell’s Reserve.  Remarking on how bourbon used to be “a southern gentleman’s drink,” Russell observed how the audience has expanded to make it “a worldwide drink.”  Other distillers in attendance included Four Roses, Jim Beam, Buffalo Trace, Michter’s, Bulleit, Blanton’s, Willett, Belle Meade, and Western Spirits.

Two chefs offered savory morsels of food designed especially to complement the bourbon. A James Beard award nominee and food celebrity in her own right, Chef Ouita Michel of Holly Hill Inn in Midway, Ky, dished out servings of delicacies like local beef with chimichurri and bourbon-infused cherry tomato basil bombe and tuna tar tar.

Chef Erik Niel of Chattanooga, Tenn. based restaurant Easy Bisto & Bar served samples of his French-inspired Southern fare and commented on the rewards of cooking with bourbon. “It adds a depth of flavor you just can’t get anywhere else.” Reflecting on how the culture of bourbon has evolved in recent years, Niel said, “It’s been pushed beyond its humble roots and [is finally getting] deserved attention.”

The beverage certainly received its due at The Bourbon Review Shindig, and as partygoers ducked away from the strings of lights and into the cool September night, they took bourbon-soaked memories with them.

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