Coronavirus pandemic forces Kentucky Bourbon Festival to go virtual


Friday, Aug. 7, 2020 — For the first time in its 29-year history, the Kentucky Bourbon Festival will not bring thousands of bourbon aficionados to Bardstown to celebrate Kentucky’s signature drink.

That doesn’t mean that bourbon fans won’t be able to enjoy the 2020 KBF virtually, however.

Out of concern for the health and safety of everyone involved — the distillery employees, local residents and bourbon fans from around the world — the bourbon festival will take place Oct. 15-18, 2020 not in Bardstown, but online in the virtual world.

The events planned are still expected to attract bourbon fans from around the world.

KBF Chairman David Mandell said safety was the driving force that led the board to make the decision to go virtual.

“Over the course of the last couple of months, we have been working diligently on the best plan to ensure the health and safety of our attendees, distillery partners, volunteers, and staff,” Mandell said. “At this time, we know it’s the right decision to move to a new type of bourbon celebration by going virtual. We look forward to welcoming everyone back to Bardstown for our 30th Anniversary next year.”

The virtual 2020 Kentucky Bourbon Festival is sponsored by Koetter Construction. Organizers still promise a unique and exciting bourbon experience that attendees will not get anywhere else, except from Bardstown.

“Bourbon has influence across the world, and we see proof of that every year when the Festival draws thousands of visitors and fans of bourbon to Bardstown,” Kentucky Bourbon Festival President and COO Randy Prasse said. “While this year may look a little different, that makes it even more special. We are constantly reassessing the Festival and making it better for our attendees – with these new, virtual ideas, we’re looking forward to hosting our regulars, as well as new friends who are looking to join the experience.”

Some of the most popular KBF events are the educational events and opportunities to interact with master distillers.

Nearly 20 live and recorded ‘Spirits Education Sessions’ can be viewed online throughout the weekend. All will require free registration to attend.

Viewers will enjoy virtual sessions that include:

  • The Art of Whiskey Making (a four-part series featuring multiple master distillers teaching the particulars of bourbon making);
  • the Bottled-in-Bond Happy Hour, where we’ll toast this landmark law, its great whiskeys and cocktails made with them;
  • Cocktail Quickies (between-session breaks in which mixologists give rapid-fire lessons on cocktails you can make at home);
  • and a new Bourbon Legends Series, in which some of the industry’s most famous families will share hilarious and heartwarming stories.

All sessions will encourage participants to buy their bourbons and cocktail ingredients in advance and ‘play along at home.’ The weekend’s festivities will culminate with the action-packed World Championship Bourbon Barrel Relay. Will competing distillery teams have what it takes to knock off 2019 champion distiller? Tune in and see!

“We are both proud and excited to support the Kentucky Bourbon Festival again this year”, stated Koetter Construction V.P. of Sales & Estimating, Todd Magner. “We’re really looking forward to the lineup of virtual educational sessions as well as announcing our newest product in barrel storage. In this rapidly growing industry that has provided us with many opportunities, we can’t think of a better way to give back to our clients and the community.”

A full list of more than 20 Virtual Spirits Education programs and the presenters will be available in mid-August, at the newly launched Kentucky Bourbon Festival website, kybourbonfestival.com. Those interested can sign up online to attend any or all the complimentary sessions. More details on pricing for VIP packages, including exciting promotions with the 30th Anniversary KBF in 2021, will be provided at a later date.


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