What came first, Bourbon or Bourbonism? Well, if you listen to Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer during a conversation that has anything to do with distilled spirits or more specifically bourbon, you might think Bourbonism came before bourbon. If you’ve ever been to one of his press conferences that has anything to do with tourism, you are pretty much guaranteed to hear the word Bourbonism. Rumor has it, anytime you hear said Mayor use the term Bourbonism you are supposed to take a shot of the states amber spirit. If in fact this were true there would be a lot of tipsy people at the Mayor’s gatherings.
The Prestigious ‘100 Proof ‘Award
This week, at the Kentucky Distillers’ Association’s annual membership meeting, the group voted to award Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer with the association’s highest honor afforded to public officials, the “100 Proof” award. He received the award for his relentless leadership in championing the states signature Bourbon and distilled spirits industry. Fischer is the first local official to ever receive the award.
“At a time when Louisville’s Whiskey Row and Urban Bourbon Trail was beginning to experience tremendous growth, Mayor Fischer stepped up and provided real leadership as our industry elevated tourism and expanded into the local food scene,” said Kentucky Distillers’ Association President Eric Gregory.
“He coined the phrase ‘Bourbonism,’ convened Bourbon-related work groups and collaborated with the Kentucky Distillers’ Association to develop partnerships with Louisville’s culinary and cosmopolitan endeavors, as well as other tourism related opportunities.”
What is Bourbonism?
Watch the video to learn the four key ingredients that make up the word that was officially trademarked on February 23, 2016 by the Louisville Downtown Development Corporation.
Bourbonism is made up of four key ingredients.
- Kentucky Hospitality
- Distillery Experiences
- Local Food
Together, they combine for a 365 day a year tourism opportunity.
Fischer is only the 10th person to ever receive the award, which the Association created in 2009 to recognize elected officials who demonstrate tremendous care, diligence and initiative in promoting and protecting Kentucky’s timeless Bourbon industry.
Nominees must receive a unanimous vote of both the Association’s Governmental Affairs Advisory Group and its Board of Directors. It is the highest honor that the state’s iconic Bourbon industry gives to elected officials.
Rob Samuels, Chairman of Kentucky Distillers’ Association’s Board of Directors and Chief Distillery Officer at Maker’s Mark, said, “The city of Louisville and Mayor Fischer are partners in the truest sense of the word, and he knows that Bourbon is more than just a drink. It’s jobs and investment and economic impact.”
The Kentucky Distillers’ Association and its 39 members thanked Mayor Fischer for his leadership role in making Louisville an official Gateway to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® tour, and for hosting the annual Kentucky Bourbon Affair, a Bourbon “fantasy camp” for thousands of visitors from around the world.
“I would like to thank the Kentucky Distillers’ Association for honoring me with its ‘100 Proof’ award,” Mayor Fischer said. “Beyond the real economic impact of the industry on our city, Bourbonism adds to the ‘cool’ factor we need to attract bright, new talent and makes us a place where people want to live and work.”
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“And there’s still much room for growth,” Fischer said. “We are only in the first few innings of this amazing capital investment in Louisville. Bourbon is fueling our food renaissance, hotel growth and revitalization of Main Street.”
In presenting the award, Gregory noted Mayor Fischer’s leadership in creating a collaborative working relationship with the tourism, convention and hospitality industry in Louisville. “The results of the community uniting behind the Kentucky Bourbon Trail experience has been a win-win for the city and state,” Gregory said.
Previous recipients of the non-partisan award helped to modernize sampling laws, reduce taxes, allow cocktail sales at distilleries and start direct to consumer bourbon shipments. Here’s a breakdown that recognizes previous winners and their achievements.
- Susan Westrom, D-Lexington, received the first “100 Proof Award” for her tireless efforts in the 2010 legislative session to modernize Kentucky’s Bourbon sampling laws.
- Former Governor Steve Beshear earned the award in 2012 for his leadership and global support of the industry.
- Senate President Robert Stivers in 2014 for his bold leadership that led to the passage of several of the KDA’s top priorities, including the Bourbon Barrel Reinvestment Tax Credit.
- Dennis Keene in 2015 for his tireless six-year effort in passing legislation that requires ignition interlocks for drunken drivers.
- John Schickel, R-Union, and Rep. Linda Belcher, D-Shepherdsville, in 2016 for passing landmark tourism legislation that authorizes cocktail sales at distilleries.
- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in March for championing Kentucky Bourbon at the federal level, including passage of the first decrease of the federal tax on spirits in generations.
- Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer and Rep. Chad McCoy in May for their skilled leadership in passing legislation that gives visitors the ability to ship bottles home, and their staunch defense of key tourism development incentives during tense budget negotiations.
Kentucky Bourbon is one of Kentucky’s most historic and treasured industries, a booming $8.5 billion economic engine that generates as many as 17,500 jobs with an annual payroll topping $800 million and pours $825 million into tax coffers each year.
In addition, the industry is in the middle of a $1.2 billion building boom, from innovative new tourism centers to expanded production facilities, all to meet the growing global thirst for Kentucky Bourbon.