Locals and visitors came together on Saturday and bought rare items of Frankfort’s favorite export — bourbon.
A crowd of about 200 gathered at the Kentucky Historical Society for the fourth annual Bourbonanza on Saturday. The auction is Downtown Frankfort Inc.’s only annual fundraiser.
The auction items, which included many rare bottles of bourbon, were donated by Buffalo Trace Distillery, Beam Suntory, Omar Marshall, Kentucky Gentleman Cigar Company, Four Roses Distillery, Brian Hix and Charlie Jones. DFI board member Rene’ True acted as the auctioneer.
A few of the items sold for more than $1,000, including a bottle of Elmer T. Lee 100-Year Tribute Single Barrel, a bottle of Col. E.H. Taylor, Jr. Amaranth and a bottle of Buffalo Trace bourbon from the six millionth barrel from the distillery. A bottle of 23-year-old Pappy Van Winkle sold for $2,400.
The item that went for the most money was the Buffalo Trace Bourbon Barrel Pick and VIP Selection Experience at $13,000. Proceeds from that item buy the barrel and support arts in Frankfort as well as DFI. Fifteen people can go to the distillery and design their own barrel of bourbon, which could equal around 200 bottles.
The bidder on the item was Kerri Richardson, though she is splitting the price of the experience with friends from across the country. Richardson and her friends had the highest bid on the Barrel Pick experience at the last Bourbonanza.
“We are all bourbon fans and Buffalo Trace does such a wonderful job. We couldn’t wait to go back,” Richardson said.
Richardson lives in Louisville, but she said Kentucky’s capital city has a “special place in my heart.” She had summer jobs in town when she was younger and worked in Frankfort for six years during her professional career. Her mother still lives 10 miles away.
Robin Antenucci, the Frankfort-Franklin County Tourist and Convention Commission executive director, said that Bourbonanza brings whiskey fans from not just Kentucky but from other states as well. The commission assists with the event by marketing it to other areas months before, plus bourbon events are popular in September and October, which also encourages travel to Bourbonanza.
“I think Frankfort having very nice, high-quality events that are a draw for people outside of the area is important to just showcase our community. We’ve got a lot to offer here,” Antenucci said.
DFI was pleased with the turnout, said DFI Executive Director Kelly Everman. This year’s event saw some changes, such as putting the activities toward the front of the Historical Society‘s Thomas D. Clark Center and adding a silent auction to give attendees other items to bid on besides the bottles of bourbon.
At Bourbonanza, 11 distilleries were present for tastings along with three local breweries, Sig Luscher Brewery, Goodwood Brewing and West Sixth Brewing, and Elk Creek Winery.
The auction is DFI’s only fundraiser, Everman said. The organization, which is 32 years old, plans and hosts the annual Summer Concert Series and Candlelight, as well as supports the revitalization of Frankfort’s downtown historic district.
“It’s a pleasure to host this event. Folks are just friendly and enjoying themselves,” Everman said.