If all this whiskey talk has you thirsty, you don't have to wait long. Our whiskey tasting tonight at Franklin Park Conservatory will give eager tipplers a chance to sample three varieties, indulge in specially paired appetizers and chat with newly minted whiskey buffs from the Alive staff.

If all this whiskey talk has you thirsty, you don't have to wait long.

Our whiskey tasting tonight at Franklin Park Conservatory will give eager tipplers a chance to sample three varieties, indulge in specially paired appetizers and chat with newly minted whiskey buffs from the Alive staff.

The event, held in the conservatory's Palm House in conjunction with Columbus Young Professionals Club, will feature a rye whiskey and two bourbons: (ri)1, Maker's Mark and Red Stag.

"These are all very good whiskeys for beginning drinkers, but they each have their own unique characteristics," said Jason Miller of Southern Wine & Spirits, the distributor providing the drinks.

The evening won't be anything serious or structured, allowing for the opportunity to ask questions of a Southern Wine & Spirits rep and Alive reporters who did their research - and by that we mean drank - for this issue.

The $20 entry cost ($15 if you preregister before 4 p.m. today at cypclub.com) gets you three whiskey tasting tickets and all of the whiskey-infused munchies you can eat, plus access to Cocktails at the Conservatory afterward. A cash bar will be available for those who don't enjoy whiskey.

Shane's Gourmet executive sous chef Cortney J. Porter took whiskey's smoky flavor profile as inspiration to create a lineup of indulgent finger foods: candied bacon, pulled pork mini burgers, bourbon beef bites and bourbon candy apple lollipops. All the dishes use bourbon as an ingredient, except the candied bacon - and how can you go wrong with that?

"I thought, What I would want to eat if I was drinking whiskey?" Porter said of creating the menu. "It pairs really well with the smokiness and the saltiness of bacon. And of course, whiskey goes really well with barbecue."

Red Stag

Four-year-old Jim Beam bourbon is infused with black cherry flavors to create this distinctive spirit. It has the sweetness of corn, an edge of oak and a satiny finish, all at 80 proof.

Retail cost: $18.95 (750 ml bottle)

(ri)1

This Jim Beam-bottled rye whiskey is light and slightly spicy, with a long finish. It weighs in at 92 proof and mixes well with citrus fruit juices.

Retail cost: $48.90 (750 ml bottle)

Maker's Mark

Full-bodied and creamy are the best words to define this 90-proof Kentucky bourbon. It's handmade with red winter wheat grain and has a vanilla nose and fruit-forward taste.

Retail cost: $25.95 (750 ml bottle)