Old Forester Wins Blind Bourbon, Monk’s Road Earns ‘People’s Choice’ at Bourbon & Beyond


September 21, 2023

Bourbon & Beyond 2023 Hosted 120,000 Fans In Louisville, KY Sept 14-17 For The World’s Largest Bourbon & Music Festival With The Killers, The Black Keys, Bruno Mars, Brandi Carlile & More

The more than 120,000 Bourbon & Beyond attendees had a chance to vote for their favorite bourbon at the festival. The five most voted brands were placed in a blind tasting for me to choose Best in Show.

The five finalists were Doc Swinson’s, Monk’s Road, Rabbit Hole, Jack Daniel’s and Old Forester. Obviously popular with the voters, Monk’s Road received more than half the votes to earn the ‘People’s Choice’ from my competition, the ASCOT Awards, while Old Forester won my Blind Bourbon taste off. Monk’s Road received second with Doc Swinson’s third, Jack Daniel’s fourth and Rabbit Hole fifth. More than 40 bourbons were in contention; both Old Forester and Monk’s Road received ASCOTs. A broadcast will soon be published in my Club Marzipan archives.

Since I started Blind Bourbon in 2020, I’ve worked with audiences all over the country–both private and public–to determine the Best in Show of each tasting. The results often vary with the experience of the crowd. And Bourbon & Beyond was no different. But this is the first time that the audience put forth finalists for me to taste. This model works great for huge crowds and I can’t wait to put it to work in future events!

Last year’s Blind Bourbon at Bourbon & Beyond… much different results than this year.

Highlights From Bourbon & Beyond

Bourbon & Beyond 2023’s memorable music performances included a day one finale from Brandi Carlile featuring special guest Billy Strings who helped on covers of Wings’ “Live and Let Die” and Queen’s “We Are the Champions.” Earlier in the day, Billy Strings also crashed the Bluegrass Situation Stage where he joined fiddle player Michael Cleveland for a few numbers. The weekend also included hit-packed headlining sets from The Killers and The Black Keys as well as Bruno Mars where Louisville native Jack Harlow was seen taking in the performance.

Other attention-grabbing sets included a rousing performance from recent Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees Duran Duranas well as new wave/punk legends Blondie, Wayne Newton who played his first rock festival ever and Old Crow Medicine Show who paid tribute to the late Jimmy Bufffett with a cover of “Margaritaville.” Bourbon & Beyond also marked the first time that husband-and-wife couple The Black Keys’ Patrick Carney and singer-songwriter Michelle Branch played the same event together.

In addition to music, stars headed to the Monogram Culinary Stage and Kentucky Venues Bourbon Stage to participate in the one-of-a-kind programming throughout the weekend. That included Darnell “SuperChef” Ferguson (Louisville native, Food Network’s Superchef Grudge Match), Sara Bradley (Top Chef contestant), special guest Joe Kwon of Avett Brothersjoining at the Monogram Culinary Stage, which was hosted by Chef Chris Santos (Chopped), Chef Edward Lee (The Mind of a Chef) and Chef Amanda Freitag (Top Chef, Chopped).

Over at the Kentucky Venues Bourbon Stage, bourbon expert Chris Blandford was joined by the world’s leading bourbon authority Fred Minnick, as well as Chef Amanda Freitag, actors Ian Somerhalder and Paul Wesley (behind Brother’s Bond Bourbon), actor Graham McTavish (OutlanderMen in Kilts), singer Wayne Newton, and country music artist Hailey Whitters. In addition, the Bourbon & Basketball panel featured former University of Louisville Championship basketball stars Robbie ValentineChris West, Wiley Brown, and Scooter McCray discussing why they love bourbon.