FRANKFORT, Ky. – On the heels of the new Kentucky Bourbon Trail Welcome Center opening in Louisville, Gov. Matt Bevin today praised Kentucky’s signature Bourbon industry for its continued growth by declaring September as “Bourbon Heritage Month” in the Commonwealth.
“The roots of Kentucky’s Bourbon industry run deep, and we are pleased to recognize the contributions of this economic engine during the month of September,” Gov. Bevin said. “Bourbon is booming, and this upward trajectory is positively impacting Kentucky farmers, manufacturers, engineers, marketers and business professionals.
“This is a homegrown success story that has not yet even reached its full global potential.”
Kentucky’s Bourbon industry, an $8.5 billion economic engine, is seeing unprecedented growth in capital investment and production, with more than $1.2 billion in capital projects underway or recently completed around the Commonwealth.
The newest investment is the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Welcome Center and Spirit of Kentucky exhibit at the Frazier History Museum on historic Whiskey Row in Louisville, which opened its doors last week as the official starting point of the KBT and Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour experiences.
The interactive, state-of-the-art experience features Kentucky Bourbon-related historical exhibits and educates visitors on why the Bluegrass has the perfect mix of water, climate, corn and natural conditions that make it the one, true, authentic home of America’s only native spirit.
Another main feature is a Kentucky Bourbon Trail concierge service located in the museum’s new entrance that will help thousands of visitors plan their trip to KBT and KBTCT distilleries, as well as navigating Louisville’s burgeoning Bourbon culinary and nightlife scene.
Although Bourbon can be made anywhere in the country, Kentucky produces 95 percent of the world’s supply. Warehouses across the Commonwealth currently hold nearly 7 million barrels of Bourbon, the highest inventory in 45 years, according to data compiled by the KDA.
The number of Bourbon barrels now far surpasses the 4.5 million people living in the Commonwealth.
The Governor’s Proclamation also notes that visitors made more than 1.2 million stops at KBT and KBTCT distilleries for the second year in a row. Attendance at the 28 participating distilleries has skyrocketed by 314 percent in the last 10 years.
KDA President Eric Gregory said, “The remarkable growth in our distilling industry has not only fueled the state’s economy, but it is transforming our tourism industry. Bourbon tourism is spreading all across our state and creating worldwide tourist destinations in every corner of Kentucky.
“With Bourbon as the fuel, Kentucky’s hospitality industry is undergoing a renaissance with a surge in conferences, new hotel construction, Bourbon-inspired food and restaurants, concerts, and retail branding,” Gregory said. “My Old Kentucky Home is definitely feeling new again.”
The growth also has had a tremendous impact on the state’s agriculture industry as well, with distillers’ local corn purchases up 65 percent over the last few years. And, local manufacturers of distilling equipment and warehouses are racing to keep up, spurred by the growing global thirst for Kentucky Bourbon.
As one of the state’s most historic and treasured industries, Kentucky Bourbon today generates more than 17,500 jobs with an annual payroll topping $800 million and pouring $825 million into local, state and federal tax coffers every year.
For 138 years, the KDA has fulfilled its mission to promote, protect and elevate Kentucky’s Bourbon and distilled spirits industry through training and education, groundbreaking legislation, innovative tourism experiences and social responsibility initiatives.
Its 40 members represent a diverse and vibrant homegrown industry, from legendary, global brands to small emerging family businesses.
Gregory said, “We thank Governor Bevin for his commitment to transforming our industry by eliminating Prohibition-era red tape bureaucracy and modernizing the state’s archaic alcohol laws to allow our distilleries to market and thrive in today’s economy.
“We look forward to his partnership as we continue the rich tradition of hard work and hospitality that has advanced Kentucky’s spirits industry to be the tremendous economic driver it is today. Let’s toast this success by celebrating Kentucky Bourbon Heritage Month like a true Kentuckian: responsibly.”