In trying to meet the rumblings of the often touted Bourbon shortage, the Kentucky Bourbon distilleries have been busy gathering grains, milling, fermenting, distilling, barreling and maturing more bourbon than they have in nearly half a century.
Kentucky Bourbon Production Up 315% Since Turn of the Century
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Kentucky’s iconic Bourbon distilleries filled 1,886,821 barrels with their “water of life” last year, breaking production records all the way back to 1967. The previous all-time high was 1,922,009 barrels filled way back in 1967. Since the turn of the century, Kentucky Bourbon production has skyrocketed more than 315 percent (455,078 barrels were filled in 1999).
That gives the state a total inventory of 6,657,063 barrels of Bourbon, the most since 1974 when 6,683,654 new charred oak barrels were gently aging in Kentucky warehouses.
“This is astounding, phenomenal, mammoth,” said Kentucky Distillers’ Association President Eric Gregory. “We’re running out of adjectives to describe the growth and success of Kentucky Bourbon. Plus, filling nearly 2 million barrels in one year should remove any doubts about the future of our signature industry.”
Distilleries Generated $17.8 Million in 2015 Tax Revenue
Distillers are paying $17,814,134 in ad valorem barrel taxes this year, another all-time high. Revenue from this tax funds education, public safety, public health and other needs in local communities where barrels are stored.
Data for this report includes Kentucky Distillers’ Association members and non-members as compiled from states Department of Revenue.
Key Distillery Facts – Not Just Bourbon
- Bourbon isn’t the only spirit aging in barrels. When you include brandy and other whiskies, the state’s total barrel inventory was 7.2 million in 2015, the highest total since 1973.
- Production in 2014 was 1,306,375 barrels. That means distilleries filled more than 580,000 barrels in 2015 over the previous year a 44% increase. That’s the biggest difference in year-to-year production since 1967 and triples the previous record.
- The tax-assessed value of aging barrels this year is $2.4 billion, an increase of $299 million from 2015 and a 135% increase over the last 10 years.
Spirits Safe – Liquid is Clear Until Entering the Charred Oak Barrel
Kentucky Bourbon is one of the Commonwealth’s most historic and treasured industries, a thriving $3 billion economic engine that generates more than 15,400 jobs with an annual payroll topping $700 million and pours $166 million into state and local coffers each year.
The KDA’s world-famous Kentucky Bourbon Trail® and Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour® adventures also set an attendance record last year with nearly 900,000 guests touring an all-time high of 19 participating distilleries. If you add in the states other distilleries that are not a part of the official Kentucky Bourbon Trail the number is well over 1 million guests.
“We’re fillings more barrels, creating more good-paying jobs, generating more tax revenue and attracting more tourists than ever before. The entire Commonwealth, and especially our local distilling communities, is realizing the benefits of the growing global thirst for Bourbon.”
Kentucky Distillers’ Association member distilleries are in the midst of a $1.3 billion building boom, from new production facilities to aging warehouses, expanded bottling lines, state-of-the-art tourism centers and more, he said.
“The KDA is honored to be part of Bourbon’s historic resurgence, and we look forward to working with state leaders and tourism officials to ensure Kentucky’s rightful place as the one, true authentic home for America’s native spirit.”