FRANKFORT, Ky. – For his eighth and final time before leaving office, Gov. Steve Beshear today 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.”
Eric Gregory, President of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association, applauded Beshear for his years of support. “We are truly thankful for Gov. Beshear’s leadership and partnership as our economic and tourism impact has grown significantly under his watch.
“Government is at its best when it works hand-in-hand with the private sector, and you couldn’t find a better example than Gov. Beshear’s administration and our flourishing Bourbon industry. He has been a true champion of Kentucky Bourbon and toasted its success around the world.”
In his official Proclamation, Gov. Beshear cheered 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.
Gregory said the KDA also now has 28 members – the most since the Repeal of Prohibition – and is embarking on its second-ever membership drive in September. The non-profit trade group recently marked its 135th anniversary.
The KDA’s 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.
Pauline Rooney, who chairs the KDA’s Board of Directors, also thanked Gov. Beshear.
“We have accomplished great things by working together and, more importantly, we have even more great Bourbon than we’ve had in generations,” said Rooney, Vice President of Distillation, Maturation and Engineering for DIAGEO North America.
“September is a month to celebrate our history, our success and our future,” she said. “On behalf of the KDA and all our distilleries, we hope everyone has a wonderful Bourbon Heritage Month and savors our products responsibly and in moderation.”
For more information, contact Eric Gregory at (502) 875-9351.
The KDA is a non-profit trade association founded in 1880 to promote, protect and unite Kentucky’s signature
Bourbon and distilled spirits industry. Heritage members include Beam Suntory (Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark),
Brown-Forman Corp., Diageo North America, Four Roses Distillery, Heaven Hill Brands and Wild Turkey
Distillery. Proof members include Michter’s Distillery.
Craft members include Alltech’s Town Branch Distillery, Barrel House Distilling Co., Bluegrass Distillers,
Boundary Oak Distillery, Casey Jones Distillery, Copper & Kings American Brandy Distillery, Corsair Artisan
Distillery, Dueling Grounds Distillery, Kentucky Artisan Distillery, Kentucky Peerless Distilling Co., Limestone
Branch Distillery, MB Roland Distillery, New Riff Distillery, The Old Pogue Distillery, Second Sight Spirits, Silver
Trail Distillery, The Gentleman Distillery, Three Boys Farm Distillery, Wilderness Trail Distillery and Willett
Distillery. The Distilled Spirits Epicenter is the KDA’s official educational distillery.
Member benefits include media relations, international trade development, private sampling events, technical
assistance, economic development support, networking, legal defense, marketing strategies, governmental and
regulatory advocacy and innovative tourism experiences through the KDA’s Kentucky Bourbon Trail® and
Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour® adventures. The KDA maintains an open membership policy, champions a
strong commitment to the responsible and moderate consumption of spirits, and fights to curb underage drinking
and drunk driving. For more information about joining the KDA’s distilling family, contact KDA President Eric
Gregory at (502) 875-9351. Visit www.kybourbon.com and www.kybourbontrail.com to learn more.