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Whiskey festival coming to Harrisburg

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Are your best friends named Jim, Jack and Johnnie? There’s a whiskey festival in Harrisburg that’s made for you.

The Central PA Whiskey Festival takes place at the Zembo Shrine Building in Harrisburg on Oct. 29, bring about 50 whiskey vendors to the Capitol City.

“The response has been pretty amazing,” Colleen Jones said. “Everybody seems to be an armchair whiskey aficionado.”

The event comes from similar events run by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Both events gather about 1,500 to 2,000 whiskey-lovers, but Jones is planning about 500 attendees for the first Central PA version of the festival.

Event officials say attention to spirits, like whiskies and bourbons, continues to grow.

“Craft beer is becoming a little old hat and now you’re seeing distilleries popping up,” Jones said. “It’s the new frontier of craft beverages.”

The inaugural festival will feature a variety of vendors, including big names like Bulleit Bourbon, Johnnie Walker and Maker’s Mark. Other distillers, like Bacardi rum and Belvedere vodka, will also be available.

In addition to the spirits, Stocks on Second will provide catering, and there will be live entertainment.

Peter Katz, who represents Beam Suntory, a distributor for Jim Beam and Maker's Mark, said that attendees should come in with a game plan, and not attempt to drink all the liquor.

"With so many things available to taste, the important thing to remember is that this isn't a challenge," Katz said. "They should look at the tasting list in advance and pick a theme of what they want to try... which will give them an opportunity to truly appreciate the differences between the different products and styles without overdoing it."

Tickets for the event are $100 and can be purchased at A designated driver ticket will be available for $30.

The event will benefit MidPenn Legal Services, a local 501c3 nonprofit that provides civil legal aid for those who cannot afford a traditional lawyer.

The proceeds from a silent auction at the festival will be donated to the group. Some items to bid non include a 3-liter cask signed by the master distiller at Four Roses Bourbon and a highly-rated bottle of Gordon & MacPhail Linkwood 21-year-old Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whiskey.

Jones believes the event will be a success if attendees have a good experience.

“We want to see people coming out and enjoying this with their friends, meeting the distillers and the experts in attendance,” Jones said. “It’s the big, big names who will be coming, so here’s a chance to see the big names in your own backyard.”

Anthony J. Machcinski is the Food and Drink reporter for the York Daily Record and FlipSidePA. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter, or email him at

If you go…

What: Central PA Whiskey Festival

Where: Zembo Shrine Building, 2801 N. 3rd St. #2, Harrisburg

When: Saturday, Oct. 29 6 to 9 p.m.

Vendor list:

More information: