Alcohol

Abbey Oldham, WKU Public Radio

The economic potency of bourbon is getting stronger with age, increasing its impact on Kentucky by $1 billion in the past two years as demand for American whiskeys continues to grow.

The Distilled Spirits Council said Tuesday in New York that combined U.S. revenues for bourbon, Tennessee whiskey and rye whiskey shot up 7.7 percent to $3.1 billion in 2016.

It says export volumes rose 10 percent, but revenues fell short of $1 billion for the first time in recent years as the strong dollar led more consumers to choose less expensive whiskeys.

A new study shows Kentucky's distilling sector now contributes $8.5 billion annually to the state's economy, up $3 billion since 2008 and a $1 billion increase in the past two years.

Bardstown Bourbon Co. Partners With Bowling Green Firm

Jan 30, 2017
Abbey Oldham/WKU Public Radio

Bardstown Bourbon Co. has announced the first partnership in its collaborative distilling program.

The company says Western Spirits Beverage Co. will work with its team to produce whiskey for Western Spirits' brand portfolio at the Bardstown distillery. Bowling Green-based Western Spirits produces Bird Dog Whiskey, Lexington Bourbon and Calumet Farm Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey.

Bardstown Bourbon recently broke ground on a distillery expansion to double its capacity to 3 million proof gallons.

Allen County Voters Say No to Alcohol Sales

Jan 26, 2017
Rick Howlett

Voters in Allen County have voted down legal alcohol sales.

Media outlets report that in a countywide vote Tuesday, 2,908 voters chose to keep Allen County dry, compared to 2,296 who wanted it wet.

Of the 14 electoral precincts in Allen County, the dry vote carried 12.

The election was the culmination of a petition drive that began in the summer of 2015 to hold a vote over alcohol sales. Supporters of legalized sales, led by Citizens for Economic Growth in Allen County, said going wet would usher in opportunities for increased local revenue through the regulation of sales.

Kentucky Bourbon Tourism Hits New Milestone

Jan 25, 2017
Abbey Oldham, WKU Public Radio

Kentucky's whiskey makers are toasting a new milestone in bourbon tourism.

The Kentucky Distillers' Association says more than one million guests visited distilleries along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail and Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour in 2016.

KDA says the tourism attractions had double-digit attendance growth compared to 2015. Attendance has shot up 300 percent in the past decade.

It says the Kentucky Bourbon Trail tour, showcasing nine distilleries, had a record 888,733 visits in 2016. Those distilleries produce bourbon's biggest brands, including Jim Beam, Evan Williams, Wild Turkey, Maker's Mark, Four Roses and Woodford Reserve.

Voters in three area counties said no to alcohol sales in special elections Tuesday, while one Ohio County town bucked the trend by voting yes.

Allen County will remain dry after voters there rejected sales of alcohol by a vote of 2,908 to 2,296.

Clinton County will also remain dry after a 2.300 to 1,288 vote.

Todd County residents also voted no.

But in Ohio County voters decided to go wet, saying yes to alcohol sales in the town of Hartford by a vote of 280 to 155 in a small turnout.

There was also a wet/dry vote in Warren County Tuesday. Voters in Smiths Grove said yes 145 to 24 to allowing the Bluegrass Winery to sell wine at their business.

Polls will be open in two Kentucky counties tomorrow. 

Voters in Allen County will decide whether to allow alcohol sales.  Supporters say doing so would generate tax revenue and possibly new businesses.  Opponents are concerned about public safety. 

Another wet-dry election will take place in the Ohio County city of Hartford, which has a population of just over 2,000 residents.  Ohio County Judge-Executive David Johnston told WKU Public Radio that he sympathizes with both sides.

Alcohol Sales Measures Go 2-for-3 in Kentucky Communities

Jan 18, 2017
Creative Commons

Two western Kentucky communities have voted in favor of allowing alcohol sales, while residents in an eastern Kentucky county struck down a similar measure.

The Daily News of Bowling Green says Auburn residents voted 108-34 on Tuesday in favor of allowing alcoholic beverage sales. Adairville voters also favored allowing sales by a 168-83 margin.

The vote was closer and had a different outcome in Knott County, where WYMT-TV reports that residents voted 1,981 to 1,589 to stay dry. The county also voted to stay dry in 2012.

Hartford Voters to Decide Whether to Allow Alcohol Sales

Nov 21, 2016
Rick Howlett

Voters in Hartford will be the next Ohio County community to decide whether to allow alcohol sales.

The Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer reports the city's wet-dry election will be held Jan. 24. Voters must live in the city limits of Hartford.

Ohio County Clerk Bess Ralph says two precincts will be voting in the election. A petition submitted in October had enough signatures to call a special election on the issue.

It will be fourth-such election the county has seen in the past year.

Beaver Dam held its local option election in February, with voters passing the measure. In Ohio County, a majority of residents voted against going wet in April.

In October, the city of Rockport held a wet-dry election that failed with a majority of "No" votes.

Rick Howlett

Voters in Barren County and three Butler County have voted to allow alcohol sales.

In Barren County,  4,651 people to expand alcohol sales, while 4,418 voted against it. That's a difference of just 233 votes out of more than 9,000 cast.

The group Move Barren County Forward led the support for turning Barren County wet.  They said money being spent on liquor in other areas will now stay in Barren County.

Before Tuesday’s vote, Cave City had voted to go wet and alcohol sales by the drink were allowed in certain restaurants in Glasgow.

Metcalfe, Adair and Russell counties all voted to go wet this year.

It wasn’t a county-wide vote in Butler County, but the towns of Morgantown, Woodbury and Rochester all approved alcohol sales Tuesday night. Butler County voted to stay dry in January.

Blake Farmer/Nashville Public Radio

Jack Daniel's is a historic brand built on stories and legend. To this day, all of the whiskey is made in the hills of little Lynchburg, Tenn. And as part of its 150th anniversary, the company is highlighting a lesser-known part of its story: how a former slave played a key role in its founding.

The story of Nearis Green first got national attention earlier this summer, when The New York Times ran an article about his role in Jack Daniel's history based on a pitch from the company.

Until now, the story usually told about the firm's founding was this: Jack Daniel left home as a young teen, went to work for Dan Call — ironically, a pastor — and ended up helping with Call's whiskey. That's where he learned his trade — perhaps under the tutelage of Green, who was then a slave belonging to Call.

It's not clear exactly what parts of the process Daniel's picked up from Green. "There's a lot of mystery there," says Jack Daniel's company historian Nelson Eddy. "We don't know exactly what he taught Jack. But we do know that Jack had a great deal of respect for that family. Because I think the best part of this story is the photograph."

The photograph he refers to is one that shows Jack Daniel, with a gray goatee, around 1895, surrounded by his crew, including two African-American men believed to be the sons of Nearis Green.

Creative Commons

Voters in the small Daviess County community of Maceo  have voted to allow the sale of alcohol.

The Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer reports only about 12% of eligible voters cast a ballot Tuesday with the final result being 63 for and 51 against.

Ironically, voting was held inside the Maceo Baptist Church whose pastor, Rev. Scott Ford, led the opposition to the local option. Supporters were led by a businessman whose family owns nine convenience stores in Daviess County.

Maceo was the second precinct in the county to go wet this year. Whitesville voters passed a local option in June. Daviess County spent more than $6,000 for both elections.

Daviess County now has just 15 dry precincts out of a total of 85.

The next wet-dry vote can’t be held until December at the earliest.

Crooked Tail Distillery Company / Facebook

Princeton’s first bourbon and moonshine distillery is open for business.

While Caldwell County is still a dry county, Princeton voted to allow in packaged and by the drink liquor sales in 2012.  

Patrick Sheridan says he and co-owner Chris Oakley have worked with city and economic leaders for over two years to develop the city’s first distillery since Prohibition.  

"In that time we have completely gutted and remodeled a 101-year-old building, which sits 50 yards from our water source, a natural limestone spring," said Sheridan. "Limestone strips out iron which gives your product a very smooth, clean finish. There's a reason the best bourbon in the world comes from Kentucky and mainly that's because this state sits atop limestone rock which makes some of the best water for bourbon."

Sheridan says all facets of the bourbon-making process are sourced locally.

Rick Howlett

Lawmakers are considering whether to allow the home delivery of alcohol in Kentucky.

A Boston-based alcohol delivery company called Drizly wants to add Kentucky to its list of places where customers can use its app, which sources local stores to deliver beer, liquor and wine. The company is asking the state legislature to consider a bill that would allow it to operate in the state.

Nick Rellas, CEO of Drizly, said the app allows local companies to make money off trade on the internet.

“They’re able to put their prices, their products up. Consumers are able to shop for alcohol on their phone or on the internet and have it delivered just like they do essentially every other area of their life,” Rellas said.

Creative Commons

Barren County is the latest southern Kentucky county to consider allowing package alcohol sales.

Cumberland and Metcalfe counties recently voted to go wet. The city of Leitchfield, in Grayson County, also voted to allow package alcohol sales.

Western Kentucky University graduate and retired Navy veteran Sonya Hamrick is leading a petition drive to get the issue on the ballot in Barren County.

She says she started thinking about pushing for change when she moved to Barren County after retiring from the military.

“To me, it only seemed reasonable to have alcohol for adults in an area that’s convenient for them. That’s what I was used to, and when I came back home I discovered there was no such thing here.”

Kentucky LRC

A state Senate committee has passed a bill that would crack down on habitual drunk drivers.

The bill would double the five-year “look-back period” for driving under the influence, meaning someone convicted of the charge multiple times in 10 years would face increased penalties.

Kentucky’s current law imposes escalating fines, license suspensions and possible jail time for each DUI offense within five years. The fourth offense is a class D felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

State Sen. Dennis Parrett, a Democrat from Elizabethtown, says he sponsored the bill after a woman was killed by a drunk driver in his district.

“A young lady a week after high school graduation, was killed by a drunk driver that had already had several DUIs and another one pending,” Parrett said. “But because of the five-year look-back period, those had been wiped off. I believe five years is not enough.”

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