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Bourbon Heritage Month Kicks Off Today

Did you know today marks the beginning of Bourbon Heritage Month in Kentucky? It is something we can all particularly enjoy, but to the folks of the Bluegrass State this celebration has especially significant meaning as this American whiskey style is one of the economic and social heartbeats in their land.

Bourbon Heritage Month, first declared as an American observance in 1997 through a declaration by the U.S. Senate, celebrates what’s termed “America’s Native Spirit.” Besides the federal nod it also gets a special declaration each year by Kentucky’s sitting governor, currently Gov. Steve Beshear. Beshear, in the eighth and final time he has made this announcement since he took office, takes special pride apparently in the fact that under his watch “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.”

Kentucky bourbon
Lots of good old Kentucky bourbon (image copyright The Whiskey Wash)

“The skyrocketing success of our legendary bourbon industry is one of the biggest and proudest highlights during my two terms,” Beshear said in a statement. “I’ve been honored to break ground at new distilleries, cut ribbons on innovative tourism centers and even bung a few barrels.”

And, indeed, bourbon is on a legendary like footing right now, according to some industry facts released by Beshear and the bourbon industry:

  • 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.
  • The Kentucky Distillers’ Association (KDA) now has 28 members – the most since the Repeal of Prohibition.

“September is a month to celebrate our history, our success and our future,” added Pauline Rooney, who chairs the KDA’s Board of Directors. “On behalf of the KDA and all our distilleries, we hope everyone has a wonderful Bourbon Heritage Month and savors our products responsibly and in moderation.”

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Nino Kilgore-Marchetti

Nino Kilgore-Marchetti is the founder of The Whiskey Wash, an award winning whiskey lifestyle website dedicated to informing and entertaining consumers about whisk(e)y on a global level. As a whisk(e)y journalist, expert and judge he has written about the subject extensively, been interviewed in various media outlets and provided tasting input on many whiskeys at competitions. He also maintains a large private collection of whiskey from which he continually educates his palate on this brown spirit type.

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