More than 500,000 people visited distilleries along Kentucky's bourbon trail in 2012, marking a 15% increase over the year before.
The Trail's director said the new attendance record was 509,292. It's the first time since the trail opened in 1999 that the number of visitors broke the half-million mark. Adam Johnson said visitors came from all 50 states and more than 50 countries.
The Kentucky Bourbon Trail is a distillery tour that features Four Roses and Wild Turkey in Lawrenceburg, Heaven Hill in Bardstown, Jim Beam in Clermont, Maker's Mark in Loretto, Town Branch in Lexington and Woodford Reserve in Versailles.
One of the big issues Kentucky lawmakers are expected to take up in the next legislative session is an overhaul of the state tax code. It's something that the commonwealth's bourbon distillers will have their collective eyes on, because a provision under consideration would create a new tax credit for manufacturers designed to offset a longstanding barrel tax.
"We pay a tax on every barrel that is aging in the commonwealth, as long as it sits in one of our warehouses. So if you're drinking a bottle of 18-year- old bourbon, it's been taxed 18 times," says Eric Gregory, president of the Kentucky Distillers Association. "That makes Kentucky non-competitive in the global marketplace. We are the only alcohol manufacturer in the world that pays such a tax."
Tax legislation designed to help Kentucky's bourbon distillers has previously passed in the Senate, but has never made it out of the House. Gregory says distillers are sensing a renewed seriousness on the part of many lawmakers to get a tax code overhaul passed next year, either in the regular session that begins January 8, or during a special session.
They may not be household names like Jim Beam or Wild Turkey, but Kentucky's craft bourbon distilleries now have their own tourist trail. One of the stops on the list—Corsair Artisan Distillery--is found in downtown Bowling Green.
Air quality officials in Louisville are warning liquor giant Diageo that it could face fines if it doesn't control the vapors coming from its storage warehouses in southern Louisville. The Air Pollution Control District says the vapors from the liquor storage houses cause a sour alcohol odor and promote the growth of a black mold or fungus that gathers on nearby homes.
Bourbon and barbecue are teaming up next month in Danville to benefit Heart of Kentucky United Way. The second annual Kentucky State Barbecue Festival on Sept. 7 will feature a charity bourbon barrel auction.
The bad national economy hasn't put a dent in one of Kentucky's signature exports. In fact, bourbon production has increased 115% over the past 13 years, according to Eric Gregory, president of the Kentucky Distillers Association.
One of Kentucky’s most famous bourbon distilleries is being sued by current and former employees who claim they were victims of sexual discrimination. Four of the five women suing Maker’s Mark still work at the distillery. The women filing the sexual discrimination suit say they were subject to a hostile and intimidating atmosphere around the bottling line at the distillery in Loretto.
Kentucky’s bourbon distillers may soon be getting one of their biggest wishes: a change in the barrel tax. The tax, named because it charges property taxes on bourbon aging in barrels in distillery warehouses, is a one-of-a-kind.
Bowling Green, Ky – Everyone knows bourbon is Kentucky's signature spirit. But Albert Schmid says many people don't realize bourbon makes a wonderful cooking ingredient as well. Schmid is a chef and an instructor at Sullivan University's National Center for Hospitality Studies in Louisville. He recently authored "The Kentucky Bourbon Cookbook", which contains seasonal recipes for food and drink. He stopped by our studios and spoke to Kevin Willis.
Loretto, Ky – Maker's Mark is the highest-selling premium bourbon brand in the world. When you visit the distillery in tiny Loretto, Kentucky, you're struck by the humility of the employees, and their desire to carry on the tradition started in the early 1950s by Bill Samuels Sr. His son, Bill Jr., is stepping down as president of the distillery after 35 years. WKU Public Radio's Kevin Willis visited the distillery to meet Bill and his son, Rob, who is set to become chief operating officer.