A gold and brown infographic with information about the 2024 Bonded Spirit Bluegrass Festival held in Covington KY on March 2, 2024

The B-Line® and Smoke Justis Host First Annual Bonded Spirit Bluegrass Festival

The meetNKY-sponsored event features a cocktail competition and a music lineup of Grammy-nominated bluegrass artists



COVINGTON, Ky. (February 5, 2024) – Bourbon and bluegrass fans are invited to attend the first-annual Bonded Spirit Bluegrass Festival from 5 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, March 2 at Smoke Justis in Covington, Ky. Brought together in partnership with meetNKY and The B-Line®, the festival celebrates the spirit of the Bottled-in-Bond (BIB) Act of 1897, a bourbon purity law, and features a cocktail competition, food and a live music lineup featuring Grammy-nominated bluegrass artists Sister Sadie and The Goodwin Brothers.

“Everyone knows Kentucky has a rich history rooted in bourbon but what many don’t know is Northern Kentucky’s role in that history,” said president and CEO of meetNKY, Julie Kirkpatrick. “The Bonded Spirit Bluegrass Festival is the perfect way to celebrate the Bottled-in-Bond Act, which Covington’s very own John G. Carlisle was instrumental in passing in 1897. We partnered with our friends at Smoke Justis— a B-Line location — to bring together the perfect collision of bourbon and bluegrass to draw visitors to our region and give them and locals another fun thing to do that weekend in addition to Bockfest.”

Before the passing of the BIB Act in 1897— which was one of America’s first consumer protection acts, even predating the Food & Drug Act— much of the whiskey produced nationwide often included harmful additives like iodine, tobacco and even paint thinner. This Act ensures quality. To be classified as Bottled in Bond, BIB distillers are required to put their products into federally bonded warehouses for at least four years and bottle at 100 proof (50% alcohol by volume). Additionally, owners must stipulate on the labels of their bottles where the whiskey is distilled and where it was bottled, if not at the same location where it’s distilled.  

Bourbon and Bites

In the spirit of celebration, the festival also hosts a competition to crown the best BIB cocktail, enlisting bartenders from across the Commonwealth to showcase creativity and highlight the unique qualities of BIB spirits. Bartender contestants will represent Second Sight Spirits and Rich’s Proper from Northern Kentucky, Old Bourbon County (OBC) Kitchen and The Manchester Hotel from Lexington, Ky. and 21c Proof on Main and Goodfella’s from Louisville, Ky. All participating bars were selected to participate by The Bourbon Review.

Roebling Rickhouse General Admission tickets are $100 and include six samplings of BIB cocktails, one beer or wine drink ticket, light bites and access to the music lineup.

John G. Carlisle VIP Experience Tickets are available for $175 and include exclusive access to the Smoke Justis Bourbon Lounge, the opportunity to cast a vote for the Best BIB Cocktail, six samplings of BIB Cocktails, two full BIB cocktails, a buffet dinner served in the Smoke Justis Bourbon lounge, and more.

Arrangement of Grammy-Nominated Artists

The music lineup includes Grammy-nominated acts, Sister Sadie and The Goodwin Brothers, as well as regional musical group Moonshine Drive. Doors open at 5 p.m., with Moonshine Drive taking the stage at 5:30 p.m., followed by Sister Sadie at 7 p.m. and The Goodwin Brothers at 8:30 p.m.

“Covington owns the unique Bottled-in-Bond aspect of bourbon’s long-standing history in this country,” said Smoke Justis founder, Richard Dickmann. “Smoke Justis looks forward to celebrating bourbon and bluegrass with whiskey enthusiasts from all over against the backdrop of our iconic Roebling Bridge.”

Those interested in purchasing tickets can through Eventbrite here. Guests must be 21 to attend.


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About meetNKY:
meetNKY drives quality of life and economic growth for Northern Kentucky through tourism marketing and destination development. Learn more at meetNKY.com.

About The B-Line®:
First introduced in early 2018, The B-Line® was created to help capture the millions of bourbon-curious people who travel along I-75 or fly into CVG Airport annually to visit Kentucky’s famed Bourbon Trail®. As of 2023, the line is comprised of 7 craft distilleries, 9 bourbon bars, and 9 bourbon-centric restaurants. For more information on The B-Line® visit thebline.com.

About Smoke Justis:
Located in the historic Citizens Telephone Building in Covington Kentucky, Smoke Justis is an urban sports bar named after an urban legend, Walter “Smoke” Justis.  This unique blend of casual and lounge space has created a vibe for everyone.  Designed as a place to bring people together, Smoke Justis features smoke meat, bourbon, and craft beer in a warm and inviting setting at the foot of the Roebling Bridge.  Visitors and locals alike can be found cheering on their favorite team or just meeting with friends to enjoy America’s native spirit at this locally owned tavern.