Have Your Bourbon and Eat it, Too

Matt Jamie.

Eat Your Bourbon Marketplace is the latest creation from Bourbon Barrel Foods’ Matt Jamie

By Mariah Kline
Photos by
Andrea Hutchinson

What started as an experiment in microbrewing soy sauce has become a dream come true for Matt Jamie. Along with his talented team, the owner of Bourbon Barrel Foods has created countless varieties of handcrafted foods that embrace Kentucky’s native spirit. Sauces, spices, sweeteners, snacks and much more adorn the shelves of the retail store located at 2710 Frankfort Ave. Now, right next door at 2708 Frankfort Ave., fans of the brand can now take part in tastings, purchase prepared foods and enjoy drinks at Eat Your Bourbon Marketplace.

Jamie and company opened the doors of the marketplace in November. Offering gourmet food and cocktail experiences, the marketplace’s mission is to show customers how best to use the bourbon-centric products.

“One of the hurdles we have as a gourmet food company making bourbon-smoked or barrel-aged anything is that people want to try it out first,” says Jamie. “So, that is our job – to educate them. What better way to do that than to have it in a display case for you to grab and take home?”

In the kitchen is Resident Chef Michael Crouch, the mastermind behind the now-closed Bistro 1860. He’s keeping the display case stocked with made-from-scratch bread, hefty dishes, light snacks and delectable desserts. Behind the bar, guests can order traditional and non-traditional bourbon drinks as well as other craft cocktails, beer and wine. The brand’s Bourbon Barrel-Aged Coffee and a specialty house tea are also offered.

The marketplace was designed with the same cozy vibe as the retail store, albeit with more room. The 1,800-square-foot space was formerly a salon, but Jamie and company didn’t find the transformation too difficult.

“We had talked about needing more space and what we could do with it,” Jamie recalls. “We were going to blow out the back of the store and had already started construction when this space became available. We immediately stopped, I came over and looked at the space and it’s just what we needed.

“I didn’t have any fear going into it,” he continues. “It all just kind of came together like I knew it would – picking the right contractors, general manager and employees to help run the place.”

Jamie’s vision is what launched Bourbon Barrel Foods, but he gives a great deal of credit to the employees and the customers who have made the brand what it is today. Watching the bourbon industry explode in the way that it has, he is also incredibly grateful to have been one of the first people to utilize the spirit culinarily.

“I’ve had a front-row seat watching the city and the state embrace bourbon,” he says. “It’s this thing that people are coming from far away states and countries to experience.” 

Though he didn’t have a background in retail prior to opening the store, he says his “stubbornness” wouldn’t allow him to quit.

“It was a blind passion that no one was going to keep me from doing,” he says. “I didn’t know anything about food manufacturing either, but I’ve learned.”

Jamie is excited to see the Eat Your Bourbon Marketplace come to life and is already looking ahead to what else the company can grow into.

“What we want to incorporate into the brand identity is diversity – throughout the entire company on every level – as well as innovation and evolution,” he says. “The marketplace is the footprint of the Bourbon Barrel Foods retail experience, and I believe I can take that into other markets.

“I wrote one business plan with one product, and it has just evolved,” he adds. “I had a big dream, and it has become everything that I ever wanted it to be and more.” V

To learn more about Eat Your Bourbon Marketplace and Bourbon Barrel Foods, visit bourbonbarrelfoods.com or call 502.333.6103.