The Charleston Wine + Food Festival (Recap)

Well, this is embarrassing… I’ve been meaning to post this article about the Charleston Wine and Food Festival for some time now (along with a couple other posts in the queue), but of course, life tends to take precedence over blog shenanigans.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that, it gave me a great opportunity to attend a few more networking events, collaborate on a couple of projects, work on my photography skills and meet new and interesting people who you’ll be seeing on Holy City Handcraft very soon!

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All photos taken by Franklin McGuire

Anyways… let’s get to the subject at hand!  Early March is arguably one of the most popular month for tourism in the Holy City, all thanks to the Charleston Wine and Food Festival (CHSWFF).  This event is one of the biggest of its kind in the southeast and brings in some of the top personalities, chefs and products from the culinary world. I was contacted about attending an event for a private whiskey tasting for two varieties of the legendary Stitzel-Weller Distillery’s Blade & Bow bourbon.  The event was to be held during the opening night of CHSWFF at the historic William-Aiken House in the heart of downtown Charleston.  All this was followed by a guided tour and a Q&A session with Blade & Bow’s whiskey ambassador, Doug Kragel.  How could I refuse?  I immediately grabbed my good buddy, Franklin McGuire of ‘Franklin From Charleston‘ to help me cover the event.

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Me and Frank just casually sitting on the hood of his ’83 Jeep Renegade — so casual.

I want to start by saying, the William-Aiken House is GORGEOUS.  It really gives you an idea of how grand the Charlestonian 1% used to live, everything from the house, the furniture to the decor exudes elegance.  This event could not have picked a better venue to host this party.  Maybe it was the ambient lighting, the bourbon or the soft bluegrass sounds from J.D. Wilkes and Charlie Stamper’s Cattle in The Cane or maybe a combination of all those factors lent a hand in the event’s cozy vibe.

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The William Aiken House

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The ‘Cattle In The Cane’ bluegrass trio performing at Opening Night.

The spread… oh my… they somehow found a way to make the Charleston’s famous landmarks EDIBLE.  Whether it was Marion Square made with broccoli/romanescos and charcuterie, to Rainbow Row made with fondant/rice crispy treats OR the Ravenel bridge made with white chocolate vehicles and an adjacent beach which consisted of sand made with graham cracker crumbs and chocolate sea creatures.   I was completely blown away, I almost felt bad eating anything on this board, but it was highly encouraged.  Don’t get me wrong either, it not only looked great, it was delicious!

The private tasting was a treat, these folks knew what they were doing.  Blade & Bow had two bourbon whiskey offerings: the Non-Age-Stated aka NAS (actually around 6-7 years old according to their brand ambassador) or the 22 year bourbons were available for tasting.  Both bourbons could be served a few different ways, either neat/over ice in a rocks glass or neat in a Glencairn Glass (which I was very impressed to see this option).   I’ll give you one guess as to which bourbon I preferred, if I can ever get my hands on a bottle in the wild, maybe I’ll end up writing a review, but until then, just take my word for it that this stuff is amazing.

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Blade & Bow Offerings – NAS and 22 Year Bourbons


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Of course I had to go with a 22 Year in a Glencairn Glass first!
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Even these coasters classed up the place.

Overall, this event was an amazing experience to be a part of.  To be in one of Charleston’s most historic houses, eating amazing food, sipping on bourbon and mingling with Charleston’s finest… you can bet I’ll be looking forward to next year’s CHSWFF.  It was also a pleasure to meet Doug Kragel and his team.  They are some of the most knowledgeable people I’ve met when it comes to their product line and whiskey in general.  Don’t miss my next article, I shine the spotlight on Doug and we talk about the history behind the legendary Stitzel-Weller Distillery and the future of bourbon industry.

blade and bow doug kragel holy city handcraft


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