For the first time in 40 years
FRANKFORT, Ky. (April 29, 2013) — For the first time since 1973, Kentucky’s iconic bourbon distilleries produced one million barrels of amber nectar in 2012, offering further proof that the industry is enjoying a historic renaissance not seen in decades.
“This is an incredible milestone that’s been 40 years in the making,” said Eric Gregory, president of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association (KDA), which promotes and protects the commonwealth’s signature bourbon industry.
“The bourbon revolution is real and perfectly poised for a spirited future. Our legendary distilleries are posting landmark production levels, investing millions in new facilities and experiencing double-digit growth in sales,” he said. “Kentucky Bourbon is definitely on a roll.”
There were 1,007,703 barrels filled in 2012. The industry hasn’t created that much bourbon since 1973, when 1,004,877 barrels were filled.
“A lot has changed since then,” Gregory said.
In 1973, a gallon of gas was 39 cents and a stamp was only 8 cents. The Vietnam War ended, Secretariat won the Triple Crown, the U.S. Senate began Watergate hearings and “The Godfather” won the Academy Award for Best Picture.
Since 1999, Bourbon production has increased more than 120 percent, thanks in large part to the growing global demand for premium small batch and single barrel brands and the rebirth of the “cocktail culture,” Gregory said.
Today, there are more than 4.9 million barrels aging in Kentucky warehouses, the highest total inventory since 1977. That means there are more barrels of bourbon aging in the Bluegrass than people (4.3 million) living here.
More than 500,000 people last year visited the KDA’s seven Kentucky Bourbon Trail distilleries, the first time that the world-renowned tourism attraction has broken the half-million mark since its inception in 1999.