The 110th United States Congress (S. RES. 294) officially designated September 2007 as “National Bourbon Heritage Month.” Since its acceptance, the Commonwealth of Kentucky, home to 95% of the world’s Bourbon has been celebrating that resolution annually with a proclamation by the state’s governor. This year, is no exception.
For his eighth and final time before leaving office, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear has declared September to be “Bourbon Heritage Month” in the Bluegrass state and praised the thriving signature industry for its monumental growth during his tenure.
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Since 2007 the number of distilleries has tripled, Bourbon production and jobs have both nearly doubled and the number of aging barrels has actually exceeded the state’s population – a fact the Governor often touts in appearances.
“The skyrocketing success of our legendary Bourbon industry is one of the biggest and proudest highlights during my two terms,” Beshear said. “I’ve been honored to break ground at new distilleries, cut ribbons on innovative tourism centers and even bung a few barrels.
Kentucky Archaic Alcohol Laws
“And while it’s my pleasure to once again declare September ‘Bourbon Heritage Month,’ I must do so with a word of caution: we must continue to reform our archaic alcohol laws in order to keep Kentucky’s rightful place as the one, true and authentic home for Bourbon.”
Beshear urged lawmakers to modernize tourism and hospitality laws in the upcoming legislative session to better compete with other states that are working to lure the next generation of distilleries from Kentucky.
Kentucky currently ranks eighth in the number of operating distilleries, but still produces 95 percent of the world’s Bourbon. If that number starts to drop, Beshear warned, it would mean lost jobs, revenue and investment that might not ever be replaced.
“We cannot afford to lose our historic distilling monopoly,” Beshear said. “What if that number slips to 90 percent or 80 percent? Our growth has been incredible, but it’s time to leverage that momentum and realize our potential. We literally cannot afford to be complacent.”
“Government is at its best when it works hand-in-hand with the private sector, and you couldn’t find a better example than Gov. Beshear’s administration and our flourishing Bourbon industry. He has been a true champion of Kentucky Bourbon and toasted its success around the world.”
Bourbon is Big Business in Kentucky
In his official Proclamation, Gov. Beshear cheered the following facts:
- Bourbon is a thriving $3 billion economic engine that generates more than 15,400 jobs with an annual payroll topping $700 million and $166 million in tax revenue every year.
- The distilled spirits industry is in the middle of a $1.3 billion building boom, creating new good-paying jobs and spurring economic growth.
- More than 5.3 million Bourbon barrels are gently resting in Kentucky warehouses for the first time since 1975, as production of the mellow amber nectar continues its remarkable resurgence.
- Bourbon production has skyrocketed more than 170 percent in the last 15 years, with 1.3 million barrels filled in 2014, the largest production year since 1970.
- A record 627,032 visitors from all around the world poured into the Bluegrass last year to visit the nine distilleries that comprise the famous Kentucky Bourbon Trail® tour.
- The nine Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour® members recorded 96,471 visits in their second full year of existence, a 56 percent increase over its inaugural year.
Gregory said the KDA also now has 28 members – the most since the Repeal of Prohibition – and is embarking on its second-ever membership drive in September. The non-profit trade group recently marked its 135th anniversary.
The KDA’s diverse membership produces 90 percent of the world’s Bourbon, from legendary, global brands to emerging micro distilleries that are building the next generation of the timeless craft.
Kentucky Governor’s 2015 Proclamation for “Bourbon Heritage Month”
WHEREAS, the Commonwealth is the birthplace of Bourbon, a unique and distinctive type of whiskey named after Bourbon County, Kentucky; and
WHEREAS, Kentucky is world-renowned for the quantity and quality of the Bourbon produced within its borders; and
WHEREAS, Kentucky’s signature Bourbon industry is enjoying a global resurgence, bolstering Kentucky’s place as the one, true, and authentic home for America’s only native spirit; and
WHEREAS, our legendary distilleries are expanding at a historic rate, with nearly $300 million invested in capital projects over the last two years, creating jobs and economic benefit for all Kentuckians; and
WHEREAS, Bourbon production has topped the one million barrel mark for the first time since 1973, with nearly 5 million barrels of amber nectar gently aging in warehouses, offering further proof that Bourbon is poised for a spirited future; and
WHEREAS, the Kentucky Bourbon Trail tour has surpassed more than a half-million visitors from around the world each year, with more than 2.5 million visitors over the last five years, and is being hailed by national publications as a unique and classic American experience; and
WHEREAS, the Kentucky Bourbon Trail adventure is barreling into Louisville, with Heaven Hill Distilleries’ new Evan Williams Bourbon Experience becoming the eighth stop on the world-famous journey and the first ever in the River City; and
WHEREAS, Kentucky is quickly becoming the epicenter for the emerging “craft” distilling industry, which continues the rich traditions and heritage started by our forefathers two centuries ago and attracts visitors to the popular new Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour; and
WHEREAS, Bourbon has solidified its role as a vital part of the Bluegrass economy, generating $2 billion a year in gross state product, creating 9,000 jobs with an annual payroll of $415 million, and producing $126 million in tax revenue every year; and
WHEREAS, Kentucky’s iconic Bourbon brands are reaching farther than ever, shipping more than 30 million gallons to 126 countries, making it the largest export category among all U.S. distilled spirits and a source of international pride for the Commonwealth; and
WHEREAS, more than 50,000 visitors from around the world travel to Kentucky each September for the annual Kentucky Bourbon Festival to celebrate the art and science of our signature spirit; and
WHEREAS, Kentucky’s distilling industry should be commended for its continued efforts to promote the responsible and moderate use of its products, and to curb underage drinking and drunken driving;
Be it resolved by the House of Representatives of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky:
Section 1. The House of Representatives congratulates the Kentucky Bourbon industry on its success and applauds its investment in the Commonwealth, which keeps Kentucky competitive in the global marketplace, creates new jobs, and increases revenue for our state and our local communities.
Section 2. The House of Representatives hereby designates September as Bourbon Heritage Month in Kentucky, acknowledging the Commonwealth’s rightful standing as the “Birthplace of Bourbon” and the only place where visitors can enjoy the true Bourbon experience.
Section 3. The Clerk of the House of Representatives is directed to transmit a copy of this Resolution to Representative Sannie Overly for personal delivery.