The whiskey industry seems to be going through a renaissance right now, there is no doubt. Fears of whiskey shortages notwithstanding, what’s going on in distilleries, bars and liquor stores around the globe showcases the ever growing popularity of this spirit type not only on your palate but also on local economies. Backing up these statements are two recent reports from the bourbon and Scotch sectors, each telling their own tales of how whiskey is not just a passing novelty.
The strongest supporting evidence around whiskey’s resurgence comes from the Scotch Whisky Association, which published a report yesterday showing how its members are contributing nearly £5 billion overall to the UK economy and employing over 40,000 individuals. To put this in another perspective, the amount of money Scotch is adding to British coffers makes it a bigger industry then the likes of iron and steel, textiles, shipbuilding and computing. It is also larger than other UK food and drink sectors, including meat, dairy, beer and soft drinks.
bourbon aging at Woodford Reserve – image copyright The Whiskey Wash
“This new report shows just how significant the Scotch Whisky industry is to the wider UK economy,” said David Frost, Scotch Whisky Association chief executive.
The bourbon sector, meanwhile, just reported the largest ever number of tourism related visits to the 18 participating distilleries of the famous Kentucky Bourbon Trail and related Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour (the latter more focused upon “craft” distillers such as Corsair). It is said there were 725,000 visits last year, to be specific, which brings along with it increased tourism spending in Kentucky and greater potential for bourbon purchases of related brands once a visitor returns to where he or she lives.
“Some of our distilleries are up 200 percent in attendance over the last five years,” said Eric Gregory, president of the nonprofit Kentucky Distillers’ Association, in a statement, “which is great news for local communities that are reaping the tourism benefits. And [the] best news is that we keep adding more and more distilleries.”
The bottomline here is this – whiskey globally is more than just what’s in the bottle. It is also the story of the successful rebound of an industry helping to keep workers employed and dollars flowing through local coffers. And that’s an awesome thing to see.
Nino Kilgore-Marchetti is the founder and editor-in-chief 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...