The St. Louis Bourbon Festival returns Friday, October 6th bigger than ever. This year’s festival features samples of over 500 Bourbon, Whiskey, Rye, and Scotch from all over the world and will take over three city blocks along Cherokee Street. The festival will include live music, buskers, food trucks, a scotch, and a cigar patio. But, with more than 110 vendors on site, the question all bourbon lovers should be asking is – “how do I navigate this festival?”
Understanding a Whiskey Festival
This is not a cocktail party. A Whiskey or Bourbon festival is a chance to try a variety of different brands all in one event.
“The Whiskey and Bourbon category has exploded with so many new brands, no one would buy them all to just try them,” said Drew Chostner, Co-Founder of the St. Louis Bourbon Society. “Enthusiasts can come to a festival and pick which brands they have been seeking out and try a sample before making a decision to buy at a store.”
Navigating the St. Louis Bourbon Festival
Imagining a beer festival with breweries set up side by side, pouring beer is pretty close to this experience. The difference is you will sip on a taster of whiskey as opposed to a full or half or even a quarter pour of beer.
Going into any drinking festival with a plan is advised. For example, focus on brands you have not tried, or a style or a state from where the distillery is located.
“We suggest that you check out our festival vendor guide and map,” said Chostner. “You can visit our website and download the entire layout and create a plan ahead of time. We suggest you know and literally start marking the ones that you are most interested in checking out or trying.”
A plan is good to have, but also prepare yourself as well. Even with smaller sips of whiskey, the juice can do a number on you if you’re not prepared.
- Wear a comfortable pair of shoes, the festival has expanded so be ready to get your steps in.
- Make sure to eat be sure to hydrate.
“This year will have even more bottled water. The reality is people need to carry their own water. So we actually have over 4000 bottles of water to hand out,” said Chostner. “Our friends from Liquid Death will be back and we’ll have soda and coffee and tea from a vendor of ours called the MUD House.”
Eating during this festival cannot be understated. There will be plenty of options again this year, including the return of food truck row on 18th Street. But, if you’d rather skip the lines at the food trucks, you have a new option.
“On our website under ticketing, you can go there and prepurchase a Lemp’s Famous Fried Chicken Dinner for about $20.00,” said Chostner. “You can pick up your food at the Lemp Mansion from 5:30 to 8:15. You’ll get two big pieces of fried chicken and six side options.
3. Festivals are marathons, not a sprint, be tactical about what samples you want to try.
4. Consider Uber or Lyft for a ride, parking is limited to city streets.
5. Pace yourself and have fun!
St. Louis Bourbon Festival
Where: The Lemp Grand Hall and Lofts. St. Louis, MO, 63118
When: October 6 from 6 to 9 p.m.
How much: General Admission – $75 plus tax, Designated Driver – $45 plus tax. Tickets are available for purchase online.