Bulleit Distilling Co. Hosts the Bartenders Guild Competition 2019

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For several years, Bulleit’s bourbons and rye products have been staples on liquor store shelves, a reliable pour for whiskey fans and a beloved tool for bartenders looking to craft the perfect cocktail. But the brand has always been a bit, well, homeless. The vagabond status of Bulleit’s production home and the whiskey’s subsequent journey from one distillery to another has been well documented. In the brands 32 year history, there has never been one location where visitors can both learn about the brand as well as tour the production home where that bourbon is distilled, aged, and bottled. That’s all changing later this month when Bulleit Distilling Company Visitor Experience opens to the public in Shelby County, Kentucky.

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The new Bulleit complex is already fitting in nicely with many other storied Kentucky Bourbon Distilleries. It is a touch difficult to find and is easy to miss with corn fields and farmhouses as its close neighbors. Right across the road from the main entrance, where the final landscaping touches are being added, there is a small country road with an ominous sign warning “Road Ends in Lake.” The expansive 300-acre campus is tucked about 45 minutes from downtown Louisville in a corner of Shelby County. The site is home to four large rickhouses that can store a massive total of 200,000 whiskey barrels and a 52-foot column still that was installed by the legendary Vendome Copper and Brass Works company. The distillery can also boast the first industrial solar array in Shelby County which was designed to collect enough energy to run all on-site mobile equipment.  

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This past Monday, Bulleit held a small preview of things when they hosted the United States Bartenders’ Guild 2019 World Class Finals on the grounds of the distillery. Over the course of the evening, the crème de le crème of the nation’s bartenders could be found competing on stage. Hands flew with precision, speed and grace as mixologists raced against an intimidating clock to create jaw-dropping cocktails that would win even the most finicky of drinkers. And brand founder Tom Bulleit, never one to miss a party, was on hand to receive guests and welcome excited visitors to the celebration.

Throughout the night, emotions ran high and custom cocktails from Johnnie Walker, Ciroc, and Bulleit flowed for the crowd. The field of 15 finalist bartenders, who had been competing in a variety of events across the region over the last several days, was narrowed to four and then just the one. The big moment of the night was when the judges crowned Katie Renshaw as the United States Bartenders’ Guild 2019 World Class Finals champion. Renshaw is now off to Scotland to represent the United States in the international competition and see if she can take home world honors.

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What was easily the biggest party that Shelby County has seen on a Monday night was a very fitting kickoff for the opening Bulleit Distilling Co. Visitor Experience in late June. During a time when whiskey and the craft cocktail is king, all eyes are on Katie Renshaw and Bulleit Bourbon to see what the future holds and what we can expect next.

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