Bourbon pop-up event brings Kentucky to Columbus

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Most bourbon is made in Kentucky. But a lot of the storied brown spirit was enjoyed in the heart of Buckeye country Friday night.

The Bourbon Legends Boxcar Tour, a Beam Suntory brands popup event at Brewmaster’s Yard in the Brewery District, drew hundreds of bourbon lover for tastes of four classic Kentucky bourbons, Kentucky inspired noshes and bourbon cocktails.

Visitors entered through a multi-sensory exhibit explaining how bourbon is produced, then exited through a “box car” meant to recall a time when Kentucky bourbon was carried to thirsty communities across the country by rail.

The event featured an elaborate setup for each of the four featured Beam Suntory brands: Jim Beam Black, Knob Creek, Maker’s Mark and Basil Hayden’s. Each brand had a representative display. The stops for Maker’s Mark and Jim Beam Black were reminiscent of the Kentucky distillers where each is made.

The tasting stop for Basil Hayden’s was a retro-chic bar with a chandelier of empty bottles and a wall of delightfully incongruous prints.

Visitors entering the Knob Creek tasting area passed through a tiny mock up of a rick house where bourbon is stored in casks for aging.

The crowd that attended seemed to be enjoying the Kentucky experience, although Columbus’ love of bourbon meant that the lines were sometimes long.

“It’s really been a great experience,” said Brooke Felts of Columbus, attending the event with her boyfriend Steven Key.

“I’m going to the Bourbon Trail in November for a bachelor party, and now I’ll feel less guilty about skipping some of the distilleries,” Felts said.

“I also feel less guilty that he’s not going with me.”

“She is a bigger fan of bourbon than I am, but now I really feel like I need to buy a bottle,” said Key.

And he would soon get his chance. As visitors left the event, they passed through a pop-up store selling the highlighted brands and a few additional premium bottles.

The Bourbon Legends Boxcar Tour event will continue on Saturday. All tickets for the event have already been distributed.

Columbus and Philadelphia are the only stops scheduled for the tour this year.

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@SteveStephens