Seven distilleries have joined the Kentucky Distillers' Association and the president of the organization says the KDA is poised for even more growth next year.
Boundary Oak Distillery in Elizabethtown, Casey Jones Distillery in Hopkinsville and Dueling Ground Distillery in Franklin are among the craft distilleries that joined the organization on Monday.
Bluegrass Distillers in Lexington, Kentucky Peerless Stilling Co of Louisville, the Gentleman Distillery in Paris and Three Boys Farm Distillery in Frankfort also became members of the KDA.
The group is now composed of 27 members, the most since the 1930s when the group was re-established after Prohibition. President Eric Gregory says the number of distilleries in the KDA could rise to 40 by next year.
The amount of bourbon produced by Kentucky distillers has topped 1 million barrels for the first time in nearly 40 years.
Officials with the Kentucky Distillers' Association said Monday that 1,007,703 barrels were filled in 2012. The last time the total went over a million was in 1973 when 1,004,877 barrels were produced.
The group's president, Eric Gregory, told the Lexington Herald-Leader that Kentucky's distilleries are experiencing double-digit sales growth and seeing landmark production levels while investing in new facilities.
The group says bourbon production is up more than 120 percent since 1999.
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.