Kentucky bourbon makers are churning out larger volumes of whiskey being stored for aging.
The Kentucky Distillers' Association said Tuesday the state's bourbon inventory has topped 5 million barrels for the first time since 1977.
It says Kentucky bourbon distilleries filled 1.2 million barrels last year, the most since 1970.
Production has soared by more than 150 percent in the last 15 years, resulting in nearly 5.3 million aging barrels at the end of 2013.
KDA President Eric Gregory says the surging production comes amid big financial investments by distillers that are creating jobs and attracting record numbers of tourists. Gregory says the bourbon resurgence shows no signs of slowing down.
The KDA's Kentucky Bourbon Trail and Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour logged more than 630,000 visits last year, a new record.
Kentucky’s bourbon capital is set to grow even stronger.
The Bardstown Bourbon Company announced Thursday plans to build a new distillery in the Nelson County town that will create 35 jobs and represent an investment of $25 million. The company says it will also build a visitor’s center and warehouses, in addition to the 45,000-square-foot distillery.
The company will produce bourbon as well as other spirits using local ingredients. Construction on the project is expected to begin this summer, with the facility opening in 2016.
It would mark the fifth distillery in Bardstown, joining Barton 1792, Heaven Hill, Jim Beam, and Willett. Maker's Mark is also close by, in the town of Loretto.
The Bardstown Bourbon Company has hired Steve Nally to serve as its first master distiller. He has over 40 years of experience in the industry and is a member of the Bourbon Hall of Fame.
Nearly 2.5 million people from around the world visit distilleries across the Kentucky Bourbon Trail each year. WKU Public Radio photojournalist Abbey Oldham photographed three distilleries including the oldest, Woodford Reserve, and one of the youngest, Wilderness Trace.
She also photographed Wild Turkey, where Master Distiller Jimmy Russel taught her how to taste corn mash and remove a bung hole by hand.
The bourbon distilleries are one of the things that makes Kentucky a special place, with a rich history and a bright future of keeping bourbon making alive and well in the Bluegrass State.
Abbey was in Bourbon Country to document the production of Mainstreet "Kentucky Spirits", which will air on WKU PBS this Saturday (May 30) at 7 pm, Sunday (June 1) at 1:30 pm, Monday (June 2) at 8 pm, and Friday (June 6) at 9:30 pm.
Two members of Kentucky’s Washington delegation are marking the 50th anniversary of the date congress formally recognized bourbon whiskey as a distinct American product. The Courier-Journal reports Representatives John Yarmuth, a Democrat and Andy Barr a Republican, have introduced a resolution recognizing the importance of bourbon to the Bluegrass State.
Bourbon was a $2 billion dollar industry in 2010. Ninety-five percent of the world’s bourbon comes from Kentucky and the industry employs some 9,000 Kentuckians.
A distillery in Owensboro will once again produce Kentucky’s signature spirit.
Officials with TerrePURE Kentucky Distillers announced Tuesday afternoon that they are purchasing the Charles Medley Distillery and will create bourbon and other lines of spirits.
The project is expected to create as many as 70 new jobs at the distillery, which sits on 28 acres of land in Daviess County. TerrePURE will invest $23 million to purchase and refurbish the distillery.
The company plans to renovate and repair buildings at the site, and install new equipment. TerrePURE says its goal is to have the distillery operational in 18 months.
The President of the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation, Madison Silvert, says a 2012 economic impact study shows the distilling business has a far-reaching impact on jobs in the Bluegrass State.
“The job multiplier for distilling was 3.19, so that means that for every new distilling job, 2.9 new jobs are created somewhere in the commonwealth," Silvert told WKU Public Radio. "That is the third largest job multiplier of all industries in the state of Kentucky, behind light truck manufacturing and automobiles.”
According to the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, the state exported $383 million of its distilled spirits in 2013. That accounts for 21 percent of the U.S. total in that area.
Silvert added that it will mean a lot to the Owensboro area community to have the Medley Distillery up and running again.
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.