Non-profit has highest membership since repeal of Prohibition
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Dec. 1, 2014) – The Kentucky Distillers’ Association will officially induct seven new members Dec. 1 as the non-profit group kicks off its 134th Annual Meeting with its highest membership total since the repeal of Prohibition.
The welcome reception is the result of the KDA’s first-ever membership drive in August, when the organization sent leather-bound packets and personalized copper membership cards to all existing and potential Kentucky distillers to explain its mission and criteria for joining.
The campaign’s slogan was “We’ve been waiting for you since 1880.” The KDA was founded in 1880 in Louisville to unite, promote and protect Kentucky’s signature Bourbon and distilled spirits industry.
Joe Fraser, chairman of the KDA’s board of directors and vice president of operations at Heaven Hill Distilleries Inc., said the ceremony is the perfect way to cap off an outstanding year.
“We’re thrilled that our distilling family keeps getting bigger and bigger,” he said. “The most important thing to realize is all our members are committed to a common goal: to secure the integrity of our industry and to strengthen Kentucky’s rightful place as the one, true and authentic home for Bourbon. We have achieved much by working together, and the best is yet to come.”
The seven newest members are:
· Bluegrass Distillers, Lexington
· Boundary Oak Distillery, Elizabethtown
· Casey Jones Distillery, Hopkinsville
· Dueling Grounds Distillery, Franklin
· Kentucky Peerless Distilling Co., Louisville
· The Gentleman Distillery, Paris
· Three Boys Farm Distillery, Frankfort
KDA President Eric Gregory said the group’s 27 members are the most since the 1930s when distilleries reemerged after the repeal of Prohibition. And with more than a dozen distilleries announced or under construction, Gregory said that number could easily grow to more than 40 by next year.
Fraser and Gregory will present each new member with a special barrel head at the reception, which comes on the eve of the Annual Meeting of Members. Gregory said the event marks a new tradition to thank the KDA’s members and partners and highlight the year’s successes.
That includes the KDA’s successful advocacy efforts in the 2014 legislative session to virtually eliminate the discriminatory “barrel tax”; creation of a reduced license fee for craft distillers; and record attendance numbers on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail experiences.
“We are entering the ‘Golden Age of Bourbon,’ ” Gregory said. “The growth is staggering, and it’s providing a tremendous benefit to Kentucky in terms of jobs, tax revenue and millions of investment.”
Since 2012, the bourbon industry has nearly doubled its workforce, tripled the number of distilleries and set major new benchmarks in payroll, exports and production, according to an economic impact study released in October by the University of Louisville’s Urban Studies Institute.
Kentucky bourbon is now a $3 billion industry that generates 15,400 jobs with an annual payroll of $707 million. Distillers have invested more than $400 million in the last five years, and expect to spend another $630 million in the next five as the bourbon boom continues its momentum.
“Bourbon brings people together, and not many industries can claim more than a century’s worth of annual meetings,” Gregory said. “We’re excited to welcome our newest members, applaud our industry partners and toast the year’s achievements.”