Kentucky bourbon is enjoying a historic boom time.
The state’s distilleries filled 1,886,821 barrels last year, according to the Kentucky Distillers Association (HDA), breaking production records that have stood since 1967.
The previous all-time high was 1,922,009 barrels filled, the KDA reports in a press release. Since the turn of the century, Kentucky Bourbon production has risen more than 315 percent (455,078 barrels were filled in 1999).
That gives Kentucky a total inventory of 6,657,063 barrels of Bourbon, the most since 1974, when 6,683,654 new charred oak casks were aging in the state’s warehouses. There are now 1.5 barrels for every person living in Kentucky (census population 4,425,092).
“We’re running out of adjectives to describe the growth and success of Kentucky Bourbon,” said KDA President Eric Gregory. “Plus, filling nearly 2 million barrels in one year should remove any doubts about the future of our signature industry.”
Amounts include all distilleries in Kentucky compiled from state Department of Revenue data. The KDA represents 28 of the state’s distilleries.
Other interested facts released in the KDA report:
- Bourbon isn’t the only spirit aging in barrels. When you include brandy and other whiskies, the state’s total barrel inventory was 7.2 million in 2015, the highest total since 1973.
- Production in 2014 was 1,306,375 barrels. That means distilleries filled more than 580,000 barrels in 2015 over the previous year (44 percent increase). That’s the biggest difference in year-to-year production since 1967 and triples the previous record.
- Kentucky Bourbon is a $3 billion economic engine in the state, generating more than 15,400 jobs with an annual payroll topping $700 million and pours $166 million into state and local coffers each year.
Gregory says that these record-breaking statistics are further proof of the impressive economic momentum being created around Kentucky Bourbon. “This truly is the Golden Age of Kentucky Bourbon,” he said.
KDA-member distilleries are in the midst of a $1.3 billion building boom, the association reports, from new production facilities to aging warehouses, expanded bottling lines, and tourism centers.
Photo courtesy of the KDA.