60 THE MEETING PROFESSIONAL AUGUST 2016
for great live music,” and the rest of the state
does the same. The Tennessee brand,
Soundtrack of America, spans far beyond
Nashville’s popular country scene. Bury your
woes in the Blues of Memphis or get back to
your roots with some East Tennessee bluegrass. Just like whiskey, the Soundtrack of
America in Tennessee can ;it any palate and
price point. With ample access, a planner can
customize this local offering multiple times
throughout an event with great variety. So
shut down the street for Kellie Pickler or
have an acoustic breakfast for your guests
ahead of a long meeting day. Ivey says that
even the groups playing at 10 a.m. on
Broadway will offer some of the best music you’ll ever hear.
Speaking of music, it feels right to quote another country song:
“You’re as smooth as Tennessee Whiskey,” Chris Stapleton croons.
My travels took me to just the place to taste test this velvet liquid,
the Jack Daniels Distillery. A 90-minute drive from Nashville, the distillery is the perfect day-trip destination for a group of whiskey a;i-cionados. This jewel of Lynchburg, Tenn., hosts not only the distillery
but an old town square featuring shops and restaurants including
Ms. Mary Bobo’s Boarding House and the Old Jail Museum. Group
photo opportunities abound. If your agenda doesn’t have an opening
for the signature Jack Daniels experience, provide a similar pleasure
at a local Nashville distillery such as Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery,
which hosts tastings and tours in addition to two large rustic private
rooms, or Corsair Distillery, with two locations in Tennessee featuring an onsite barrel house, specialty barrel bottlings and a “Grain to
Glass” story for beer and whiskey.
Kentucky: Bourbon Trail Bound
Mark Twain once penned, “Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whiskey is
barely enough.” I certainly agree with Mr.
Twain, and Kentucky is the place to get it.
Tennessee has Jack Daniels, but Kentucky is home to a wealth of distilleries, 14
of which invite visitors to experience the
fruits of their master distillers’ labors.
My ;irst stop: Maker’s Mark Distillery.
Welcomed by the replica distiller’s home
that doubles as the ticket lobby, I relished
in the scenic paths, history and informative
tastings throughout the tour. However, the
true beauty began as I exited through rows
of fragrant barrels to stare up at the Chihuly glass ceiling that leads
into the gift shop. Here your attendees can select any bottle, glass
or trinket for a hands-on lesson in the art of dipping the signature
Marker’s Mark red wax seal. I chose to dip a bottle of Maker’s 46;
my masterpiece was such a unique memento that I almost
hesitated to open the bottle.
Continuing northeast on the trail you will ;ind Jim Beam. Kim
Bennett, senior director of KY Beam Bourbon Experiences, gave me
some insight into Jim Beam’s two-year push to further partner with
meeting groups. Much like Maker’s Mark, the American Stillhouse
located in Clermont, Ky., is a rustic throwback to the historic roots
of its distilling beginnings. The Jim Beam American Stillhouse can
not only host your group for a tour and tasting, but after hours or
during slow season host your full meeting, including audiovisual
and catering support. Your executives could even tour with a master
distiller and handpick barrels for your event.
However, in speaking with Bennett, I was most intrigued by the
location of the Jim Beam Urban Stillhouse, just 30 minutes north in
the heart of Louisville. The Urban Stillhouse allows guests to experience the “Come as a friend and leave as family” culture of Jim Beam
mere steps from the meeting and lodging facilities. The venue can
accommodate groups of 12 to 75.
The temporary closure of the Kentucky International Convention Center—which will complete a US$180 million expansion in
2018—puts a gap in Louisville’s meeting space inventory, but creates a unique opportunity for non-traditional venues such as the
Urban Stillhouse. The convention center, CVB and local venues are
partnering closely to continue group ;low into the city utilizing such
Another of these options will give your group an insider’s
glimpse into one of baseball’s historic tools, the Louisville Slugger
baseball bat. The Louisville Slugger Museum can hold up to 60
guests for dining and has an array of pre-packaged and customizable tour packages. Cap off the day with a game at the Louisville
Slugger Ballpark to watch the Bats swing and revel at the façade
comprised of the renovated 1800s freight depot.
Indiana: Hoosier Hospitality
Like Nashville, Indiana’s capital city, Indianapolis, has experienced
a boom in business. Mark Newman, executive director of the Indiana
Of;ice of Tourism Development, is seeing the rest of the state follow
suit. For Indianapolis, the expansion of the Indiana Convention Center and the additions of the JW Marriott and Lucas Oil Stadium have
made the Circle City a premier location for meetings.
The Jim Beam American
Stillhouse can not only
host your group for a tour
and tasting, but after hours
or during slow season
host your full meeting,
including audiovisual and