Every September, the big bourbon PR teams get it popping in Kentucky. The stereotype of tomato-faced suit-guys with bulbous noses hacking up flesh and pressing the porterhouse at downtown steakhouses to rally support for the state's big export is probably outdated. All the same, this time of year, half the restaurants in Louisville offer special bourbon-flecked menus. Many bars do deals and tastings. Bands even play whiskey benefits. Okay, so maybe they don't, at least overtly, but they should. One thing's for sure: Between September 15 and 20, the internationally renowned Kentucky Bourbon Festival goes down in historic Bardstown, with purveyors both large and small sloshing in from all over the state, local food, and beverage-appropriate entertainment.
San Francisco will host its own grain gala a month later. On October 16, for the West Coast edition of Malt Advocate's WhiskyFest, the Marriott on Fourth Street will turn brown from a swelling and convergence of the entire whiskey diaspora: single malt and blended Scotch, Irish, Tennessee, Japanese, Welsh, and Canadian whiskeys, as well as bourbons from Kentucky. Notice is premature because whiskeyhounds aren't typically noted for their speedy reaction times.
You'll want to get your tickets soon, not just so they don't run out before you wake up and turn on your computer, but because the early-bird pricing ends next week. Snag that and you'll save 15 bucks, which amounts to a discreet bonus bottle of mass-produced, non-artisanal bourbon, which, as Gourmet pointed out six months ago, is what you should be drinking anyway.