It was just pure luck that this weekend's Tennessee Whiskey Festival at the South Main Artspace Lofts is happening during the annual RiverArtsFest. "I'm not really that knowledgeable about Memphis," organizer Jay Heavilon admits.
The first Tennessee Whiskey Festival was held in 2013 in Chattanooga as a fund-raiser for HArt Gallery, which is run by Heavilon's wife and provides art materials and instruction to the homeless. The second Whiskey Festival is a fund-raiser for the second HArt Gallery, which will open in the Edge District next year. Proceeds will also go to Artspace.
Heavilon says he decided to go with whiskey for a festival because there was already a wine festival and a brewers festival in Chattanooga, plus he saw a rise in craft distillers in the area. The Memphis festival will feature eight craft distillers: Pyramid Vodka, American Born Moonshine, Belle Meade Bourbon, Southern Pride, Beechtree, George Dickel, Pennington's Strawberry Rye, and Prichard's Distillery.
Festival-goers get a passport and a souvenir glass for samples. Representatives from the distilleries will be on hand to answer questions. Water and snacks will be provided. There will be a cash bar with cocktails and High Cotton beer, too.
"It's an acquired taste," says Heavilon of whiskey. "We teach you how to smell, how to taste. This is really a how to taste whiskey event."