FRANKFORT, Ky. — Toasting the global resurgence in Kentucky’s signature Bourbon industry, Gov. Steve Beshear and the state legislature today declared that September will be honored as “Bourbon Heritage Month” in the Commonwealth.
It was the first time that the Kentucky Senate and House of Representatives, meeting in special session this week, made the declaration. This is the sixth consecutive year that Gov. Beshear has set aside September for celebrating Kentucky as the birthplace of Bourbon.
“The continued success of our legendary Bourbon industry is benefitting all Kentuckians through the creation of jobs and hundreds of millions in new investment,” Gov. Beshear said. “It’s also one of our most recognized exports, which keeps us competitive in the global marketplace.
“Kentucky is the one, true and authentic home for America’s only native spirit. It is a privilege once again to raise a glass and proclaim September ‘Bourbon Heritage Month’ as we toast our timeless craft.”
Sen. Jimmy Higdon, whose district includes Heaven Hill, Willett, Maker’s Mark and Limestone Branch distilleries, cheered the industry for filling one million barrels of Bourbon in 2012, the first time that milestone has been reached since 1973.
“There are nearly 5 million barrels of Bourbon gently aging in warehouses across the Bluegrass countryside,” said Higdon, R-Lebanon. “That’s our highest inventory in more than 25 years in response to the skyrocketing demand of our signature industry.”
House Majority Caucus Chair Sannie Overly, who represents Bourbon County where the amber nectar attained its name, said she is proud that her hometown is synonymous with Kentucky craftsmanship and tradition hailed around the world.
“More than a half-million visitors are making the pilgrimage to Kentucky every year to learn about the art and science behind the world’s best Bourbon,” said Overly, D-Paris. “The increased tourism and positive publicity is pouring much-needed revenue into our local communities.”
Sen. Higdon and Rep. Overly sponsored resolutions on the Senate and House floors to praise the $2 billion landmark industry, which is responsible for 9,000 annual jobs with a payroll of $415 million and more than $126 million in tax revenue every year.
In addition, Bourbon has become a world-famous tourism attraction through the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® experience, with more than 2.5 million visits in the last five years alone, said Eric Gregory, President of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association.
“Kentucky is the only place in the world where visitors can walk in the footsteps of Bourbon legends and learn the proud history of our distinct and time-honored craft,” he said.
“Bourbon has become more than just a drink. It’s a way of life and an integral part of the Commonwealth’s economy, culture and future. We thank Gov. Beshear and the Kentucky General Assembly for its continued support.”
The Kentucky Bourbon Trail® program features Four Roses and Wild Turkey in Lawrenceburg; Heaven Hill’s Bourbon Heritage Center in Bardstown; Jim Beam in Clermont; Maker’s Mark in Loretto; Town Branch in Lexington and Woodford Reserve in Versailles.
Heaven Hill Distilleries’ Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, opening fall of 2013 along historic Whiskey Row in downtown Louisville, will be the tour’s eighth official stop. Go to www.kybourbontrail.com for directions, tour hours, events and more information.
The Governor’s Proclamation and legislative resolutions also commended the distilling industry for its continued efforts to promote the responsible and moderate use of its products, and to curb underage drinking and drunken driving.
“September is a beautiful time to visit Kentucky,” Gregory said. “We welcome everyone to come explore our rich tradition, charming communities and proud heritage, and always remember to savor our fine products responsibly.”
For more information, contact Eric Gregory at (502) 875-9351.
The KDA, a non-profit trade association founded in 1880, is the state’s foremost voice on spirits issues. Members include Beam Inc. (Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark), Brown-Forman Corp., Diageo North America, Four Roses Distillery, Heaven Hill Distilleries, Inc., and Wild Turkey Distillery.
Craft distillery members include Alltech’s Town Branch Distillery, Barrel House Distilling Co., Corsair Artisan Distillery, Limestone Branch Distillery, MB Roland Distillery, The Old Pogue Distillery, Silver Trail Distillery and The Willett Distillery. Educational members include Distilled Spirits Epicenter.
Visit the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® tour online at www.kybourbontrail.com, follow us on Twitter (@kybourbontrail) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/kybourbontrail). For more information on Kentucky’s signature Bourbon industry, go to www.kybourbon.com.
KENTUCKY BOURBON TRAIL® and BOURBON TRAIL™ are trademarks/service marks of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association. The KDA and its members ask that you enjoy Kentucky Bourbon responsibly and in moderation, and never mix drinking and driving.