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Two spirits fests to warm the heart

The histories and the futures of bourbon and rum will be celebrated at two spirited events this first weekend in December.

Friday, December 5, The Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, 528 W. Main St. will host a Repeal Day Celebration from 5–9 p.m. inside the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience Prohibition Era Speakeasy Bar.

Guests will enter the basement Speakeasy through what looks like a bank’s safe door in the wall.  “Prohibition Era” attire is certainly encouraged, with prize packages for the most popular male and female costumes of the night.  There will be complimentary hors d’oeuvres, Bourbon tastings, Bourbon-themed door prizes, and a cash bar featuring specialty Prohibition cocktails. The event is free; guests must be of legal drinking age to enter the Speakeasy.

Tours of the entire Evan Williams Bourbon Experience facility will be given every 30 minutes until 8 p.m. for $9.

Saturday, Dec. 6, the inaugural Midwest Rum Festival will focus on some of the world’s finest fermented cane sugar juice that evening at the Kentucky International Convention Center.

Rum Festival organizer Federico Hernandez views his party as a natural offshoot of the city’s connection with bourbon manufacturing. Much of all aged rum gains its notes of oak, color, smoke and sweetness from used bourbon barrels.  And, believe it or not, Kentucky has three rum distilleries, Wilderness Trace Distillery in Danville, Barrel House Distilling Co. in Lexington, and The Gentleman Distillery in Paris. All three will be represented at the festival.

Rum tastings, of course, will be the main event, along with Caribbean music and a Showcase Mixology & Flairtender Competition with $3,000 in cash prizes for the most inventive rum concoctions. And there will be a a best piña colada competition.

Four tiers of tickets range in cost from $30 to $60. The priciest ticket — Grand Tasting: Nirvana for Cane Aficionados — gets guests an all-access pass to seminars, tastings, cocktail competitions and pre-event parties taking place during the five-day run-up to the festival. The least expensive Cane Admission Pass basically gets you in the door. From there you must buy a $25 booklet of tickets for rum tastings.

Several pre-event parties during the week will be at various bar venues around town.  Check the festival website for more info on these.