Okay, admittedly, "amazinger" isn't a word. It should be though, and if the good people from Webster's Dictionary would simply attend the 2018 New Orleans Bourbon Festival I am guessing we have a decent shot at including it in this year's catalog of new words.
I attended the inaugural Bourbon Festival in New Orleans last year. The conventional wisdom is to avoid first year festivals. Organizers need a minimum of a year to work out the kinks. Let others suffer through the first year and then start going in year two or three once all of the bugs are worked out.
I have to say, I am so glad I attended last year. It was literally one of the most amazing experiences in my life and clearly at the top of my "bourbon experiences."
I'm a person in my group of friends who often organizes things. Parties. Outings. The fantasy football league. I do this for two reasons:
1. No one else does anything... anything! (Sad, but true.)
2. I'm busy and cherish my spare time. If I'm going to tear myself away from whatever it is I find myself so busy doing, I want it to be worth my while. I have a spare time set of standards if you will. Knowing this I always set the criteria for determining if something seems worthwhile by measuring is it being done as I would do it. For me, this is key.
Well, the beautiful part about what is happening in New Orleans is that Tracy Napolitano and his wife Barbara Hirsch are doing an amazing job. I always say the key to their success is they are organizing it as fans, but bringing the professionalism of event organizers. Yep, it's exactly how I would do it myself, if I could organize a bourbon festival.
In fact, it's exceeds my criteria. It's better. Tracy and Barbara stretch their imaginations to come up with the most amazing festival you can imagine.
Are you doubting me?
Well, there are several keys to the fun. Let's take a look at what I say makes the New Orleans Bourbon Festival the premier bourbon event in the country:
- Bourbon Dinners - The festivities kick off on Thursday the 8th of March with bourbon dinners. Events, at amazing restaurants, hosted by key people from the distilleries. It's the perfect pairing of cuisine, bourbon and your first opportunity to rub elbows with some of your favorite people from the world of bourbon.
- Bourbon Celebrities - There isn't an event like this where you can meet so many people from the Bourbon World in one place. They are so accessible, too! I'm talking Fred Noe, Freddie Noe, Trey Zoeller, Eddie Russell, Bruce Russell, Denny Potter, Bernie Lubbers, Greg Davis and so many more. In addition to those in the industry, the bourbon media is out in force as well. Carla Carlton, Maggie Kimbrel, Mike Veach, Fred Minnick, Susan Reigler and so many more.
- Bourbon Education - There are 31 sessions at the 2018 New Orleans Bourbon Festival spread out over 2 days. What an amazing way to learn about your favorite distilled spirit from subject matter experts within the industry. By the way, most sessions involve tastings as well.
- The Grand Tastings - Speaking of tastings, two evenings are dedicated to grand tastings where you can enjoy a nearly unlimited selection of bourbon offerings from distilleries spread out across the United States. Oh, by the way, there is food there from some of the best restaurants in one of the best cities to dine. Hello!
- The City of New Orleans - One of the biggest draws is the city itself. There is so much to do and experience above and beyond what's happening at the festival, The Big Easy can't be beat, particularly in early March when most of the country hasn't yet thawed out.
Yep, it's true, I love the New Orleans Bourbon Festival. It's the perfect mixture of education, entertainment and opportunity to meet so many from the world of bourbon that I appreciate so much.
I will be in New Orleans March 8-10. I hope to see you there as well. To learn more, and get your tickets, head over to neworleansbourbonfestival.com