image001As Louisvillians, we take our bourbon seriously, and some of us might even consider ourselves experts. Most of us know that not all whiskies are bourbons, but all bourbons are whiskies, and bourbon’s ingredients must include 51 percent corn. Charred oak barrels, bung holes and rick houses might even be in your daily vocabulary. But now, there is actual standardized training to become a true bourbon expert — aptly named the Stave & Thief Society.

The Distilled Spirits Epicenter has launched the bourbon certification program to educate Louisville’s restaurant, bar, hotel and retail employees. Think of sommelier certification, and you get the idea.

The inception of the Stave & Thief Society came as part of a Bourbon & Food Work Group consisting of business executives, chefs, distillers and tourism leaders assembled by Mayor Greg Fischer to further the city’s image as a top food and beverage destination. The curriculum was developed by an advisory panel that included master distillers, restaurant owners, beverage directors and spirits industry veterans in partnership with the Kentucky Distillers’ Association.

According to the Bourbon & Food Work Group report, “For Louisville to become the heartbeat of bourbon culture, the front line of hospitality staff must be well-trained to answer questions and provide history and other details of this signature industry. The goal is for every hospitality worker to be able to expertly discuss bourbon.”

Enrollment is now open, and first year membership dues are $1,000, which includes study guides, online tests and management training. The first training course is planned for Feb. 16. Click here to register and get more information.

Sara Havens is the Culture Editor at Insider Louisville. She's known around town as the Bar Belle and updates her blog (barbelleblog.com) daily. She's a former editor of LEO Weekly and has written for Playboy and The Alcohol Professor. Havens is the author of two books: "The Bar Belle" and "The Bar Belle Vol. 2."


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