Frankfort, Ky. – For his eighth and final time before leaving office, Gov. Steve Beshear declared September to be Bourbon Heritage Month in the Bluegrass and praised the thriving signature industry for its monumental growth during his tenure.
Since 2007 when Gov. Beshear took office, the number of distilleries has tripled, Bourbon production and jobs have both nearly doubled and the number of aging barrels has actually exceeded the state’s population – a fact the Governor often touts in appearances.
“The skyrocketing success of our legendary Bourbon industry is one of the biggest and proudest highlights during my two terms,” Beshear said. “I’ve been honored to break ground at new distilleries, cut ribbons on innovative tourism centers and even bung a few barrels.
“And while it’s my pleasure to once again declare September ‘Bourbon Heritage Month,’ I must do so with a word of caution: we must continue to reform our archaic alcohol laws in order to keep Kentucky’s rightful place as the one, true and authentic home for Bourbon.”
Beshear urged lawmakers to modernize tourism and hospitality laws in the upcoming legislative session to better compete with other states that are working to lure the next generation of distilleries from the Commonwealth.
Kentucky currently ranks eighth in the number of operating distilleries, but still produces 95 percent of the world’s Bourbon. If that number starts to drop, Beshear warned, it would mean lost jobs, revenue and investment that might not ever be replaced.
“We cannot afford to lose our historic distilling monopoly,” Beshear said. “What if that number slips to 90 percent or 80 percent? Our growth has been incredible, but it’s time to leverage that momentum and realize our potential. We literally cannot afford to be complacent.”
In his official Proclamation, Gov. Beshear toasted the following facts:
- Bourbon is a thriving $3 billion economic engine that generates more than 15,400 jobs with an annual payroll topping $700 million and $166 million in tax revenue every year.
- The distilled spirits industry is in the middle of a $1.3 billion building boom, creating new good-paying jobs and spurring economic growth.
- More than 5.3 million Bourbon barrels are gently resting in Kentucky warehouses for the first time since 1975, as production of the mellow amber nectar continues its remarkable resurgence.
- Bourbon production has skyrocketed more than 170 percent in the last 15 years, with 1.3 million barrels filled in 2014, the largest production year since 1970.
- A record 627,032 visitors from all around the world poured into the Bluegrass last year to visit the nine distilleries that comprise the famous Kentucky Bourbon Trail® tour.
- The nine Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour members recorded 96,471 visits in their second full year of existence, a 56 percent increase over its inaugural year.