Taste the Rarest Bourbon in the World at Delray Beach Bacon & Bourbon Fest

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The Delray Beach Bacon & Bourbon Fest is back March 18 to 19, and this year it really is better than before

Remember last year when the inaugural edition — which saw nearly 8,000 attendees during the course of the two-day event — received hundreds of complaints for long lines and food shortages? Well, don't expect the same experience this time around, says Festival Management President Nancy Stewart-Franczak.

"This year we've made a number of major enhancements, changes that will make the overall experience much better," says Stewart-Franczak. "Primary among them, we now have the ability to make more food as the need arises, have added several new bars, and we've also opened the event earlier — all to address last year's prime concerns."

That means the Delray Beach Bacon & Bourbon Fest will have more of the two things everyone loves: booze and bacon.

Like last year, guests will be able to sample and learn about more than 40 bourbons — including some of the rarest and hardest-to-find in the world — from a total of six bourbon bars (that's four more than last year, in case you were wondering).

Unlike last year, there will be more meat and less waiting. Improvements include five bars, new and exclusive seminars and dining events, extended festival hours, and tented festival grounds. There's even a pig race planned.

According to Steward-Franczak, the festival will have different bars catering to different drinking styles. A neat and on-the-rocks bar will allow patrons to sample bourbon and whiskey straight, while another bar will be dedicated to serving five signature cocktails, each batched "on tap" for faster service, including a Blackberry Bourbon Lemonade, Prohibition Punch, Pork My Peach, Maple Bourbon Smash, and Chocolate Old-Fashioned.

The exclusive Bourbon Library is a private lounge that will feature hourly releases of rare or special-edition bourbons from distilleries like Blood Oath, Buffalo Trace, and EH Taylor Cured Oak. An optional $10 pass will get you access to the Bourbon Library all day long, allowing entry during each of the rare releases alongside a limited number of people.

For those who want to learn more about bourbon and whiskey, a series of seminars has been designed to educate guests about each and will focus on highlighting a selection of fine bourbons like Elmer T. Lee, Troy & Sons Oak, and Tap 35. Remaining $59 seminar tickets will give you entry to the Bacon & Bourbon Fest event and access to the seminar, offering four to five bourbon samples paired with bite-sized food pairings presented by local chefs, and an etched commemorative Bacon & Bourbon Fest glass.

If you're really into bourbon, however, you might want to check availability for access to the event's most exclusive seminar, the Pappy Van Winkle Tasting Experience, a limited-seating pairing happening on Friday and Saturday that will include samples of five extremely rare bourbons, including Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve (often regarded as one of the finest bourbons in the world). The Pappy Ticket sells for $300 per person and can be purchased here.

When it comes to food, festival organizers have you covered there too. This year there will be six caterers onsite each day, making everything from a bacon and bourbon burger to bacon-infused crab cakes and Dr. Pepper- and bourbon-glazed pork belly. The famous "bacon bar" is also back: $3 slices of bacon served on a stick and covered in toppings like caramel-almond, pecan-rosemary, and chocolate-peanut.

"And be sure to keep your eye out for the Bourbon Brown Butter ice cream, created by Ben & Jerry's, the official dessert of this year's event. It's one of my favorite foods at this year's event," says Stewart-Franczak.

The second-annual Delray Beach Bacon & Bourbon Fest will take place Friday, March 18, and Saturday, March 19, from noon to 11 p.m. General admission is $25 per person. Visit delraybaconandbourbonfest.com.

Nicole Danna is a food writer covering Broward and Palm Beach counties. To get the latest in food and drink news in South Florida, follow her @SoFloNicole or find her latest food pics on the BPB New Times Food & Drink Instagram.

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