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The Mayors of Kentucky’s two largest cities got a first-hand look at the growth, success and future of the famous Kentucky Bourbon Trail adventure as they toured three of the Commonwealth’s legendary distilleries recently.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and Lexington Mayor Jim Gray made the day-long trip as part of their BEAM initiative – the Bluegrass Economic Advancement Movement, a joint regional business plan supporting the growth of high-quality jobs in advanced manufacturing.
Fischer and Gray, along with representatives of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association and its member companies, visited Woodford Reserve in Versailles, Wild Turkey in Lawrenceburg and Jim Beam in Clermont.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said, “Seeing the distilleries first-hand made me realize the importance of Bourbon to our state’s economy. Bourbon is a growth industry and it creates an opportunity for our region to create jobs and expand our economy.”
Lexington Mayor Jim Gray said, “As Mayor Fischer and I work together on BEAM, we recognize that to put together a good road map for our future we must understand and value our past. The Kentucky Bourbon Trail tour, with its authentic, rich history, represents a part of what’s special about Kentucky.”
At each distillery, the mayors learned about the multi-million dollar tourism and manufacturing investments being made, as well as the skyrocketing growth of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail program and its impact on local communities.
A recent study showed that Kentucky Distillers Association member companies are investing $220 million in new or improved distilleries, visitor’s centers, warehouses and advanced manufacturing equipment to meet the growing global demand for Kentucky Bourbon.
In addition, Kentucky Bourbon Trail distilleries recorded nearly 500,000 visits last year from all 50 states and dozens of countries. The number who toured all six – completing the KDA’s Passport program – reached a record of 11,757, far surpassing the previous year’s milestone.
More than 25,000 people have completed the tour since the KDA started the Passport program in 2007, resulting in an economic impact of $18.5 million to local communities, according to the study by the University of Louisville.
The study also found that Kentucky’s signature Bourbon and distilled spirits industry is responsible for $2 billion in gross state product each year, provides 9,000 jobs with an annual payroll of $415 million and generates more than $126 million in tax revenue.
With official Kentucky Bourbon Trail Passports in hand, the Mayors enjoyed hard-hat tours of future expansions, tastings of the Commonwealth’s finest premium brands and educational presentations from industry leaders and Master Distillers.
Created by the KDA in 1999, the Kentucky Bourbon Trail tour features six distilleries, each offering a unique and educational experience on the art and craft of Bourbon-making: Four Roses, Heaven Hill, Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, Wild Turkey and Woodford Reserve.
From Kentucky Distillers Association