The 2017 Julep Shindig Recap – A Kentucky Weekend to Remember

Story: Caroline Paulus
Photos: Ross Boggess

Our second annual Julep Shindig wrapped up right here in Lexington after a weekend of southern living, with behind-the-scenes tours in the world famous horse and bourbon industries that make Kentucky one of a kind.

Our weekend started with a round of Belle Brezing cocktails in the lobby of Lexington’s Gratz Park Inn, Lexington’s only historic and very charming downtown luxury hotel. The Belle Brezing, a Bourbon, orange, and cranberry cocktail, is a nod to the city’s most notorious madam, as well as our guest’s first sip of the Bourbon heritage in Kentucky.

The following morning our guests boarded the bus to a day of experiencing the Kentucky tradition. We began with a tour at the Woodford Reserve Distillery; a National Historic Landmark nestled in the rolling hills of Woodfood County. There we learned about the distilling process and tasted three of Woodford’s renowned Bourbons, including the rare Woodford Double Double Oaked, only available for purchase at the distillery gift shop.

A short drive through horse country later, we arrived at Ashford Stud and the Coolmore stallions barns, housing some of the most famous sires in the world, including Triple Crown winner American Pharoah. After introductions and photos with the Pharoah, we toured the barns holding famous thoroughbreds Shanghai Bobby, Magician, and more. Lunch took place in Midway, at Kentucky chef Ouita Michel’s Wallace Station, where southern sandwiches and cold Ale – 8 – One’s were served on the back porch.

Later in the afternoon, after a short rest at the hotel, the group convened at Belle’s Cocktail Lounge, where Woodford Reserve representative Johnny Castillo was on hand to guide our guests through the tasting process with Woodford’s unique flavor wheels. Designed to help Bourbon fans of any experience level differentiate between the wood, grain, aromatics, spice, and fruit & floral flavors that make each Bourbon distinctive, our guests snacked on nuts, cheese, fruits, and chocolate paired with Bourbons to bring out each note.

The following day, our guests dressed in their Sunday best and headed to the Keeneland Clubhouse, where we bet on the horses, ate Kentucky burgoo and Bourbon bread pudding, and took in the beautiful views at the Keeneland racetrack. We finished our day at the races with the Julep Shindig, a capstone celebration for the weekend at the Keeneland Sales Pavilion. With four bartenders flown in from around the country, our guests sampled different mint julep recipes while they sampled southern cuisine and tapped their feet to a live bluegrass band.

We are so grateful to our guests for spending this extraordinary weekend with us, to Woodford Reserve for presenting our guests the best of the Bourbon lifestyle, to Ashford Stud for showing our guests the superstars of the racing industry, and to Gratz Park Inn for their hospitality. We hope to see everyone again next year!

See our photo album from the Shindig here!

Caroline Paulus is the Senior Editor for The Bourbon Review. She lives and writes in Lexington, Kentucky. Follow her on Instagram @misswhiskeyhistorian to keep up with her latest in bourbon news - and a few old finds, too.