FRANKFORT, Ky. – In a special meeting Thursday, the Kentucky Distillers’ Association Board of Directors strongly recommended that members take all necessary precautions to protect the safety of guests and staff on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail tour from the coronavirus outbreak.
There are no confirmed cases of coronavirus at any KDA member company. The coronavirus has not impacted production. Currently, all production facilities are operating as usual with appropriate health and safety protocols.
KDA members are sharing best practices and implementing strict measures to safeguard visitors, including enhanced sanitation procedures and reduced tour and tasting group sizes, while following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and the state health department.
Some members are temporarily suspending all tours, while others are scaling back tours of sensitive areas like production and bottling facilities, said KDA Board Chairwoman Jessica Pendergrass.
“KDA member companies are taking these steps to ensure the health and well-being of visitors and employees, and to support broader initiatives across the Commonwealth to limit the spread of this most recent strain of coronavirus,” Pendergrass said.
“At the same time, we want to assure everyone that Bourbon production continues on schedule.”
KDA President Eric Gregory recommended that visitors contact participating KBT distilleries regarding currently scheduled tours or prior to scheduling a trip, as it is up to each distillery to determine policies in their hospitality facilities, including tours, gift shops, restaurants and bars.
“Our members are focused on keeping workers safe while maintaining production of our signature spirit that is so vital to the commonwealth’s economy,” he said. “But as many member companies are making decisions to temporarily suspend tours as a precaution that recognizes the interests of public safety, we suggest guests contact individual distillers prior to any visit.”
Gregory noted that the KBT and its partner, the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour, recorded nearly 2 million visits last year. More than 70% of Bourbon tourists come from outside the Commonwealth.
Bourbon is one of Kentucky’s most treasured and historic industries, an important $8.6 billion business that provides more than 20,100 jobs with a $1 billion payroll, and is currently in the middle of $2.3 billion in capital investment.
There are now 9.1 million barrels of bourbon and other spirits gently aging in Kentucky warehouses, the highest number in the modern era of American Whiskey. Kentucky now holds two barrels of spirits for every person living in the Commonwealth.
Bourbon production has skyrocketed more than 360% since the turn of the century, with Kentucky distillers filling 2.1 million barrels in 2018, the first and only time that milestone has been topped in the 52 years of record-keeping at the KDA.
For more information visit www.kybourbontrail.com.