This year was my 2nd visit in as many years to the Salato Sampler in Frankfort. I must say, while I had a good time it was a bit disappointing in comparison to last year. Tickets were more expensive this year ($60, up from $45 I believe last year), and there were less distilleries/brands represented by far. Notable no shows include:
<> Jim Beam Brands. Last year, Knob Creek, Bookers, Bakers, Basil Hayden, Beam 4-yr., and Beam Black were all available and served. JBB's complete no-show this year meant 6 less bourbons were sampled just from one company.
<> Wild Turkey. If I recall correctly, last year's offering included Turkey 101, Russell's Reserve, and Rare Breed. Add three more bourbons to the minus category.
<> Woodford Reserve. Arguably the closest distillery to the event, this was surprising and very disappointing.
<> Jefferson's. My favorite from last year.
In attendence, however:
<> Four Roses. They were serving up both the Small Batch and Single Barrel brands. I had a great conversation with one of the distillery reps about our preferences between the two and the success of the yellow label Four Roses in Japan.
<> Heaven Hill. They offered up Elijah Craig 12 y.o. AND 18 y.o. (!), not to mention Evan Williams Single Barrel. Very nice representation.
<> Maker's Mark. They were mixing Maker's with Peach Schnapps and handing out highball glasses.
<> Blanton's. Always a popular table, as they give out the nicest glassware for the patrons. Last year's glass was truly unique with the bulbous bottom, but this year's glass was not too shabby. Even when they ran out of the glasses, they gave away nice glass shotglasses. The guy behind the counter even gave me some of the extra corks to help me add to my collection quicker.
<> Buffalo Trace. Separate table from Blanton's, and very popular, also.
In addition, local wineries and a brewery were added. Lover's Leap Winery was the one I visited for the sole purpose of trying one of their red wines given the name "Sloppy Seconds." Also, a highlight for me was the representation of Kentucky Ale and Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale. The Bourbon Barrel Ale was particularly fantastic last night, especially in the throes of 90+ degree heat.
All in all, I had a very good time, added some more glasses to my bar, got down to just needing 2 more letters to spell B-L-A-N-T-O-N-S, enjoyed the food, and smoked a fine Kentucky Gentleman cigar while listening to the bluegrass music from County Line Bluegrass.
I hope the benefit helped the Salato Center greatly, as it is a good cause. This event is a highlight for me as an enjoyed of various bourbons. I'm just disappointed in those distilleries, especially those in the KBF, that chose to not be represented. Perhaps it was an economic decision on their part, but those who did show and graciously served the throngs of enthusiasts and boozers, I raise my glass to you.