FRANKFORT, Ky. (Sept. 28, 2017) – The Kentucky Distillers’ Association today announced that the Neeley Family Distillery in Sparta has joined its legendary ranks, as the Northern Kentucky area continues to flourish for craft distilling.
The distillery is owned and operated by Royce Neeley, 25, and opened in July. Neeley’s family built the distillery and visitor center on a lot adjacent to the famed Kentucky Speedway to capitalize on race fans throughout the year.
The distillery showcases 11 generations of Neeley distilling with family photographs, news articles and artifacts, including a 100-year-old family still from the mountains of Eastern Kentucky. It began making moonshine in July and filled its first barrels of Bourbon in August.
“Kentucky’s signature Bourbon and distilled spirits industry has been built on the innovation and perseverance of young entrepreneurs,” KDA President Eric Gregory said. “We’re excited to see Royce keeping up that tradition and proudly welcome the Neeley Family Distillery to the KDA.”
The Neeley distillery, located at 4360 Kentucky 1130 in Sparta, joins the KDA as a craft-level member aging less than 1,000 barrels a year. It is the 35th member of the non-profit trade group and the 25th craft member. There are now four distilleries in the Northern Kentucky area.
“The KDA has been preserving Kentucky’s signature spirit for more than a century, and there is no doubt that without them, Bourbon would not be the $8.5 billion giant that it is today,” Royce Neeley said.
“We’re honored to stand side-by-side with the association and its members in preserving and continuing Kentucky’s great Bourbon tradition.”
Founded in 1880, the KDA is the state’s voice for Bourbon and spirits issues. Its diverse membership produces 90 percent of the world’s Bourbon, from legendary, global brands to emerging micro distilleries that are building the next generation of the timeless craft.
Kentucky Bourbon is one of the Commonwealth’s most historic and treasured industries, a booming $8.5 billion economic engine that generates as many as 17,500 jobs with an annual payroll topping $800 million, and pours $825 million into tax coffers each year.
In addition, the industry is in the middle of a $1.2 billion building boom, from innovative new tourism centers to expanded production facilities, all to meet the growing global thirst for Kentucky Bourbon.
There are now 39 companies operating 52 distilleries in the Commonwealth making 6.8 million barrels of aging Bourbon – all modern records. Distillers also paid a record $19.2 million this year in barrel taxes that fund critical local programs such as education, public safety and health.
The KDA’s famous Kentucky Bourbon Trail and Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour also made history last year, with tourists making a record one million stops at 20 participating distilleries. Attendance has skyrocketed by 300 percent in the last 10 years, Gregory said.
“With this unparalleled and record-breaking growth, Kentucky Bourbon is the new fuel for the Bluegrass economy,” Gregory said. “We are proud to welcome another member to our growing family as we continue to elevate our iconic industry responsibly and with integrity.”