The amber waves of bourbon rolling across the hills and hollers of Kentucky continue to attract crowds to the state. For the second year in a row, the Kentucky Distillers’ Association is reporting that its world famous Kentucky Bourbon Trail and companion Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour has exceeded the 1 million visit milestone.
The original Kentucky Bourbon Trail started in 1999 and a second trail was added in 2012 with the introduction of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour. Today’s Kentucky Bourbon Trail is made up 10 of the states large “Heritage” distilleries while the Craft Tour has grown to 13 distilleries. A complete breakdown of the 23 distilleries is included below.
Kentucky Bourbon Trail Visits Up 314% in 10 Years
Stay Informed: Sign up here for the Distillery Trail free email newsletter and be the first to get all the latest news, trends, job listings and events in your inbox.
Together, the two trails registered a 12% increase to 1,194,233 visits in 2017, the ninth straight year of double digit increases in turnout. The larger distilleries saw a 6% increase to 940,780 visits while the craft spirits makers saw a whopping 43% increase to 253,453.
“We’re thrilled with the sensational success of our Kentucky Bourbon Trail experiences and their impact on the Bluegrass economy,” said Kentucky Distillers’ Association President Eric Gregory. “Bourbon has spawned a renaissance in state tourism, from restaurants and bars to hotels, specialty shops, tour companies and more.”
Kentucky Bourbon Trail to Launch New Experiences in 2018
“Our guests are always thirsty for new things to see and do,” Senior Director of Kentucky Bourbon Trail® Experiences Adam Johnson. “We’re going to make it easier for visitors to plan and book their trips and enhance their experience with our world-class sponsors and accommodations.”
Johnson said we can expect a new Kentucky Bourbon Trail website, new affinity group for Passport holders and a host of new participating distilleries all are part of significant changes coming this year. The Association is partnering with the Frazier History Museum in downtown Louisville along Whiskey Row to develop the “Kentucky Bourbon Trail Welcome Center,” which will become the official starting point of excursions when it opens in August 2018.
Bourbon fans that have their Kentucky Bourbon Trail Passport stamped at each of the 10 large distilleries are awarded with a Kentucky Bourbon Trail t-shirt while fans that have their Craft Tour Passport stamped are awarded with a Mint Julep cup.
Gregory said, “We’re excited that 2018 is going to be another banner year for Bourbon tourism with innovation, expansion and more reasons to visit the one, true and authentic home for Bourbon and distilled spirits.”
Kentucky Bourbon Trail – Established 1999
- Angel’s Envy Distillery, Louisville
- Bulleit’s Stitzel-Weller Distillery, Louisville
- Four Roses Distillery, Lawrenceburg and Cox’s Creek
- Heaven Hill Distillery, Bardstown
- Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, Louisville
- Jim Beam Distillery, Clermont
- Jim Beam Urban Stillhouse, Louisville
- Maker’s Mark Distillery, Loretto
- Town Branch Distillery, Lexington
- Wild Turkey Distillery, Lawrenceburg
- Woodford Reserve Distillery, Versailles
The Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour – Established 2013
The Craft Tour last year include,
- Barrel House Distillery, Lexington
- Bluegrass Distillers, Lexington
- Boone County Distilling, Richmond
- Corsair Distillery, Bowling Green
- Hartfield & Co. Distillery, Paris
- Kentucky Artisan Distillery, Crestwood
- Kentucky Peerless Distillery, Louisville
- Limestone Branch Distillery, Lebanon
- MB Roland Distillery, Pembroke
- New Riff Distillery, Newport
- Old Pogue Distillery, Maysville
- Wilderness Trail Distillery, Danville
- Willett Distillery, Bardstown
There are now 39 companies operating 52 distilleries in Kentucky making 6.8 million barrels of aging Bourbon – all modern records. Distillers also paid a record $19.2 million last year in barrel taxes that fund critical local programs such as education, public safety and health.