While the distilled spirits industry across the world may have some supply chain issues the one thing Bardstown, Nelson County, Kentucky leaders are not short on is their enthusiasm and laser focus on the role bourbon plays in this quintessential American town.
June 14 has been designated National Bourbon Day. Bardstown, officially designated The Bourbon Capital of the World™, started the celebration early with an opening ceremony complete with impressive bourbon announcements.
On Friday, June 10, the Great Lawn at historic Spalding Hall, just steps away from the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History, was the venue as local, county, and state officials, Master Distillers and other bourbon representatives kicked off National Bourbon Day.
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Noted guest speaker for the celebration was Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear, who spoke on the importance of the bourbon industry and the positive economic impact it has had on the state. The Governor referenced several recent large investments in the bourbon industry in Nelson County, including the $135 million Heaven Hill Springs Distillery, production capacity expansions at Lux Row Distillers and Bardstown Bourbon Company, the reopening of the all new James B. Beam Distilling Co. visitor experience, the grand opening of The Legacy at Dant Crossing, and the almost complete airport terminal at Samuel’s Field, funded by a million dollar grant from the state.
Bardstown Mayor Dick Heaton spoke about bourbon’s positive impact on Bardstown and Nelson County, referencing the tremendous economic impact and jobs created for local residents.
Bardstown – Nelson Co. Tourism Commission Executive Director Samantha Brady, said “Our authentic bourbon culture and heritage make Bardstown the perfect place to be when celebrating National Bourbon Day. Four days dedicated to bourbon events will bring visitors from all over the world. Bardstown tourism, hotels, restaurants, attractions, and shops are ready to welcome guests with our true southern hospitality.”
Kentucky Bourbon Festival Chairman David Mandell spoke about the upscaled experience guests can expect this September. “Get ready for the 31st Annual Kentucky Bourbon Festival. We’ve continued to invest and improve the festival experience with all bourbon sampling now included in the 2022 ticket price and, for the first time, guests can purchase bottles directly from their favorite distilleries.” Randy Prasse, President & COO of the Kentucky Bourbon Festival, submitted a quote about this year’s new event, the Bourbon Capital BBQ Challenge & Distillery Invitational held at Dant Crossing in nearby Gethsemane, KY. “We could not be more excited to celebrate National Bourbon Day with the launch of the new Bourbon Capital BBQ Challenge & Distillery Invitational. We greatly appreciate all the hard work of our sponsors and partners in helping create an event that further promotes Bardstown as the Bourbon Capital of the World.”
Kevin Smith, Vice President of Kentucky Bourbon Affairs at Beam Suntory and 2022 chairman at the Kentucky Distiller’s Association – KDA, spoke about the tourism impact of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, the advances in the bourbon industry that the KDA has spearheaded, and shared some impressive statistics about the sheer scale of bourbon in the commonwealth.
“The Kentucky Distillers’ Association, established in 1880, is the first and only nonprofit trade association dedicated to protecting Kentucky’s legacy in bourbon and sharing it with the world,” said Smith. “Our goal is to bring together distillers, businesses, educators, and governmental entities to advocate for our industry and ensure that Kentucky always remains the one true home of bourbon. Kentucky bourbon is not exclusive. You don’t have to be an expert, and you don’t have to be from Kentucky to enjoy it, but you do need to be over 21. There’s no one face or taste of Bourbon, and that’s what makes our community so unique. National Bourbon Day is a wonderful way to honor Kentucky’s signature bourbon industry, commemorate our heritage, and recognize the hardworking people that keep this $9 billion industry growing.”
Bourbon Capital Community Alliance – BCCA Executive Director Sam Lacy spoke about the numerous advances the BCCA had made in the local bourbon industry on behalf of their nine member distilleries and additional sponsors over the previous year.
“Last year at this ceremony, we announced the Bourbon Capital Guild and the Bourbon Capital Academy,” commented Lacy. “I stand here today proud of our progress on both fronts…we have 150 fantastic Bourbon Capital Guild members. These members have had access to experiences and education that others can only dream of. As for the Bourbon Capital Academy, we’ve launched our first courses in partnership with Lux Row Distillers and are working with Bardstown Bourbon Company on their course. Eventually, we wish to offer unique Bourbon Capital Academy courses at all nine of our BCCA member distilleries, each with their own distilling focus. It’s exciting to see how well these courses have been received thus far.” Lacy also mentioned the approval to build and place bourbon barrel trash receptacles downtown, furthering bourbon visual cues throughout Bardstown. He also brought the Bardstown special license plate back to the forefront that was approved by the state special committee in 2020.
Brindiamo Group Donates $100,000 to Bourbon Community Alliance
Lacy finished by bringing to the stage Jeff Hopmayer, Managing Partner of the Brindiamo Group in Nashville, Tennessee, to announce a $100,000 sponsorship earmarked for creation of a branded, comprehensive meeting space for the Bourbon Capital Guild and its members, as well as a classroom for the Bourbon Capital Academy.
“The Brindiamo Group works with individuals, brands and established companies to stimulate growth, bring innovation and creativity to the bourbon industry,” stated Hopmayer. “It’s extremely gratifying to know that, with this investment, we are helping the Bourbon Capital Guild, here in Kentucky in the Bourbon Capital of the World, carry on the legacy of education, community and preservation of bourbon throughout the world while building on its economic impact for future generations.”
Highlights of the four-day National Bourbon Day Celebration includes special distillery tours, tastings, and welcome cocktails on Friday, June 10 and Saturday, June 11. The Bardstown – Nelson Co. Chamber of Commerce hosted the Bardstown Bourbon Mixer on Thursday evening, June 9 at Preservation Distillery. New to this year’s National Bourbon Day festivities is the Bourbon Capital BBQ Challenge & Distillery Invitational, organized by the KY Bourbon Festival and hosted by Dant Crossing in nearby Gethsemane, KY. Additionally, downtown Bardstown’s retailers will offer offered extended shopping hours Friday evening. The Bourbon City Street Concert returns to the National Bourbon Day event lineup on Saturday evening. The celebration concludes on Sunday, June 12, with several special bourbon-inspired brunches throughout Bardstown.
“There is no place you’d rather be on National Bourbon Day than the Bourbon Capital of the World, Bardstown, Kentucky,” said Lacy. “Just as much as this weekend is about our locals and tourists coming to town and experiencing our distilleries and downtown, it’s also about paying homage to and thanking our distilleries for their investment in our town and county. The economic impact they bring to Bardstown and Nelson County is incredible. They help make Bardstown the special town it is.”
Founded in 1780, Bardstown is the second oldest city in Kentucky. Bardstown has been known as The Bourbon Capital of the World™ for decades and was named the “Most Beautiful Small Town in America” by Rand McNally and USA Today.