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SB meets… Michele Reina, Luxco

The brand educator for US spirits portfolio Luxco tells us about The London Bourbon Experience.

Michele Reina discusses The London Bourbon Experience

What is The London Bourbon Experience?

It’s a celebration of American Bourbon and rye whiskey, bringing together a selection of great bars and restaurants, bottle shops, mixologists, and exclusive cocktails. It launches on 7 September at Cocktails in the City, and runs until 5 December – a date that celebrates the repeal of Prohibition in the US. The immersive experience is self-led, meaning people have the flexibility and time to find out more about Bourbon, and to try different serves at their own leisure.

Why did you set up The London Bourbon Experience?

It’s an idea born out of my deep love for and appreciation of American whiskey. It’s been running since 2021, and the intention has been to showcase the rich flavours and heritage of Bourbon, as well as creating a platform for enthusiasts and newcomers alike to explore Bourbon-based cocktails.

The goal is to create an unforgettable journey and share the magic of Bourbon with as many people as possible.

What’s happening this year?

Participating venues in London will each be creating and serving three signature Bourbon-based cocktails. These will range from classics with twists, through to new and original creations. Venues taking part include Hide, The Bourbon Bar, Block Soho, Ginza, Spey Bar, DeGusto, Zephyr, and Black Rock. When people order a Rebel Bourbon cocktail in these venues, they will be able to collect a passport stamp, and six stamps earn a 20% discount on Rebel Bourbon at participating bottle shops, such as Sacred, Tomoka, and The Vintage House. There will also be a series of events happening throughout the Experience at different venues, where there will be Bourbon pairings.

What is the benefit for venues taking part in the Experience?

The passport initiative and collecting stamps encourages people to visit different venues, which is great for footfall and sales. The Experience also creates an opportunity for mixologists to showcase their skills, and to be part of media coverage and social media sharing. Most of all, the Experience creates the chance for venue staff to start conversations with guests about Bourbon. Sharing knowledge and making suggestions can help strengthen customer satisfaction.

How does the Experience benefit the Bourbon category in the UK?

The London Bourbon Experience plays a pivotal role in elevating the status of Bourbon in the UK. By presenting an array of Bourbon-based cocktails, and offering masterclasses, we’re able to introduce consumers and industry professionals to Bourbon’s rich history, craftsmanship, and versatility. Through this immersive experience, passport holders have the chance to gain a deeper appreciation for Bourbon, leading to increased interest in the category and a willingness to explore expressions and brands.

Why are you focusing on Rebel Bourbon at this year’s Experience?

We were keen to introduce whiskey lovers to a Bourbon with a wheated mash bill. The wheat creates a distinctive, yet incredibly smooth flavour profile, which is also versatile for cocktails. The Rebel range also features a host of international releases, where the whiskey has been finished in different barrels, such as tawny Port or Cognac casks. These are specially finished versions of Rebel Bourbon for fans outside of the US, and often debut in London ahead of export to other markets.

What’s in the pipeline for the London Bourbon Experience in the future?

Each year, the Experience attracts more participating venues and even more guests. It’s our aim to continue to build on this, sharing the beauty of Bourbon with more and more people in London, and throughout the UK.

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