Kentucky's bourbon industry is about to gain an income tax credit. Beginning next year, distilleries can get the credit for state and local property taxes paid on aging barrels of bourbon. Gov. Steve Beshear signed the bill into law Tuesday afternoon.
Under the new law, distilleries are required to invest the tax credit in capital improvements, including construction, renovation, tourism-related facilities and equipment. Last year, the barrel tax generated about $14 million in state and local property taxes.
State lawmakers have effectively eliminated a tax on aging barrels of bourbon in a move to protect one of the state's signature industries.
Kentucky spends that tax money on public education, making it difficult to eliminate the tax completely. This week lawmakers approved a tax credit that would offset the cost of the tax. Public schools would still get their tax money, but overall state revenues would decrease by about $14 million in five years once the tax credit is fully implemented.
Kentucky distillers have increased their inventory of aging bourbon by more than 1 million barrels since 1999. State tax collections have more than doubled since then.
The law requires Kentucky distillers to spend the savings from the tax on improving facilities in Kentucky, including remodeling to promote tourism.
Originally published on Thu March 13, 2014 9:48 am
From its earliest days as America's homegrown whiskey elixir, Kentucky bourbon has been traveling on boats.
In fact, boats were a key reason why Kentucky became the king of bourbon. In the late 1700s, trade depended on waterways, and distillers in the state had a big advantage: the Ohio River. They'd load their barrels onto flatboats on the Ohio, which flowed into the Mississippi, taking their golden liquor as far down as New Orleans.
Kentucky’s bourbon distillers are celebrating a record number of visitors in 2013.
The eight facilities that make up the Kentucky Bourbon Trail saw a 12 percent jump in visits last year, with nearly 572,000 visitors touring facilities such as Four Roses, Maker’s Mark, and the recently-opened Evan Williams Bourbon Experience in downtown Louisville.
Kentucky Bourbon Trail director Adam Johnson attributes part of the tourism draw to the efforts distillers have made to improve their facilities.
“Name the distillery, and they’ve put some serious money in expanding that experience for their visitors," Johnson told WKU Public Radio. "Woodford Reserve, for example—they’re working hard on their place and hope to be open in the spring with a much more expanded experience, just like Jim Beam has done, just like Maker’s Mark has done, just as Wild Turkey has done.”
Johnson says the rising popularity of bourbon and other Kentucky-made spirits has also trickled down to the commonwealth’s growing list of smaller craft distilleries. Nearly 62,000 visits were made last year to members of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour, including Corsair Artisan Distillery in Bowling Green, and Limestone Branch in Lebanon.
Here is a list of the member distilleries that are a part of the Bourbon Trail and Craft Tours:
In a $16 billion deal this week, Japanese beverage giant Suntory announced it plans to purchase Beam Inc., the maker of Jim Beam bourbon and the owner of other popular bourbon brands like Maker's Mark.
Those and most other bourbons are made in Kentucky, and the deal has some hoping the drink's growth in the global market won't come at the expense of its uniquely Kentucky heritage.
A Japanese company has announced plans to acquire the producer of Jim Beam bourbon.
Suntory Holdings of Osaka, Japan, has agreed to purchase Beam Incorporated for $16 billion.
The Courier-Journal reports that under a deal approved by leadership at both companies, the current Beam management team would continue to lead the business from Beam headquarters outside Chicago, with Jim Beam maintaining its distillery in Clermont, Kentucky.
Beam Incorporated owns many of the most famous names in the world of bourbon, including Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, Knob Creek, Basil Hayden, Bookers, and Old Grand-Dad.
The company’s portfolio also includes brands of vodka, rum, tequila, as well as Irish and Scotch whiskies.
The acquisition of Beam Incorporated by Suntory Holdings is expected to finalized in the second quarter of this year.
Kentucky authorities are dangling a $10,000 reward for information that helps solve the disappearance of some sought-after bourbon.
It's become a compelling mystery in a state that produces 95 percent of the world's bourbon. What happened to 65 cases of 20-year-old Pappy Van Winkle bourbon and nine cases of 13-year-old Van Winkle Family Reserve rye? The whiskey was taken from the Buffalo Trace Distillery at Frankfort in mid-October.
The missing whiskey is valued at more than $26,000.
Franklin County Sheriff Pat Melton said Monday the reward could provide "a heck of a Christmas" for someone who helps crack the case.
Melton says a crime stopper's group put up $1,000, but he declined to identify any other donor.
The sheriff says his detectives have interviewed more than 100 people.
The principal of Bardstown High School is denying that he was involved in the theft of some of the world's most prized bourbon. Chris Pickett met with detectives Monday and denied claims that he offered to sell bottle of Pappy Van Winkle to an Elizabethtown liquor store.
An attorney for Pickett told the Courier-Journal that this client “did not” try to sell bottles of the famous bourbon. The lawyer says Pickett was simply inquiring as to whether any Pappy Van Winkle was available for purchase.
Franklin County Sheriff Pat Melton—who is investigating the bourbon theft—said his office needed to verify information before clearing Pickett of any suspicion related to the case.
Sixty-five cases of Pappy Van Winkle bourbon and nine cases of rye were stolen from the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort. Investigators originally described the crime as an apparent inside job. Video surveillance taken October 20 at a Hardin County liquor store shows Pickett entering and leaving the store.
Sheriff Melton later described the individual in the video as a “person of interest.”