A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

September declared ‘Bourbon Heritage Month,’ celebrating Kentucky’s signature industry


September has been declared “Bourbon Heritage Month” in the Commonwealth. 

“As I promote Kentucky around the world, I’m frequently asked about our historic Bourbon industry,” Gov. Matt Bevin said. “The love of Bourbon is a global phenomenon with deep roots planted in Kentucky, and the economic impact of the industry is growing rapidly.  

“Kentucky’s Bourbon industry proudly employs farmers, manufacturing workers, engineers, marketers, business professionals, and many others. I am proud to recognize Bourbon Heritage Month and the contributions that the industry makes to the Commonwealth’s thriving economy.”

Kentucky Bourbon is one of the Commonwealth’s most treasured industries, a thriving $8.6 billion economic engine that generates more than 20,100 jobs with an annual payroll topping $1 billion and the state’s second-highest job spin-off factor. 

“Kentucky’s revered distilling industry continues to grow at a tremendous rate, fueling the state’s economy and revolutionizing tourism for Kentucky,” said Eric Gregory, president of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association. 

There are now a record 17 distilleries on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® tour and 20 distilleries on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour. Visitors made 1.4 million stops at participating distilleries last year, a new all-time high for the tourism attractions created by the KDA. 

Bourbon production has increased 115 percent over the last 10 years, and there are now 7.5 million barrels of Bourbon gently resting in warehouses across the state, the highest inventory level since 1972.

In addition, the industry is in the middle of a $2.3 billion building boom, from innovative new tourism centers to expanded production facilities, all to meet the growing global thirst for Kentucky Bourbon. 

The KDA also has reached a modern record of 38 members, the most since the repeal of Prohibition, Gregory said. 

“For 138 years, the KDA has fulfilled its mission to promote, protect and elevate Kentucky’s Bourbon and distilled spirits industry through training and education, groundbreaking legislation, innovative tourism experiences, and social responsibility initiatives,” he said. 

“Our members represent a diverse and vibrant homegrown industry, from legendary, global brands to small emerging family businesses. By working together, we have transformed Kentucky’s distilling industry back into a global powerhouse.”

Gregory applauded Gov. Bevin and legislative leaders for their support and partnership in modernizing the state’s archaic alcohol laws to keep Kentucky competitive as the producer of 95 percent of America’s only native spirit. 

“Thanks to our state leaders and their pro-business policies, our industry continues to thrive as a driving force for the Kentucky economy. We look forward to their continued support as we strengthen and defend Kentucky’s rightful place as the one true home of Bourbon.

“We encourage everyone to celebrate our beloved tradition at any of the numerous festivities Bourbon Heritage Month has to offer across the state. As always, make it memorable; enjoy Kentucky Bourbon responsibly and in moderation.”

Kentucky Distillers’ Association


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