Kentucky Bourbon Distilleries Scaling Back Tours In Face Of Coronavirus Threat - The Whiskey Wash

Kentucky Bourbon Distilleries Scaling Back Tours In Face Of Coronavirus Threat

Tourism is a key aspect to the Kentucky bourbon industry economy, as recently released numbers highlight record growth in the number of visitors last year. That being said, tourism on a global level is being severely impacted right now by the greater coronavirus threat, and now that impact is coming to bourbon land, with a number of distilleries suspending and/or scaling back visitor tours.

The Kentucky Distillers’ Association (KDA) Board of Directors held an emergency meeting today to review the current coronavirus situation. Though, as of the time of this post, there are no confirmed cases of the virus at any member distillery, precaution is still extremely important. To that end it was recommended that Kentucky distilleries take all necessary safeguards to “protect the safety of guests and staff on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail (KBT) tour from the Coronavirus outbreak.”

How this comes across from a practical perspective is that some distilleries, such as the two Jim Beam operations (American Stillhouse and Urban Stillhouse) and Maker’s Mark, have begun the process of suspending all tours and visitor experiences. It is likely others will follow this route, though it is also possible some may scale back “tours of sensitive areas like production and bottling facilities.”

Jim Beam American Stillhouse

Jim Beam American Stillhouse (image via Beam-Suntory)

At the same time, while tourism is being scaled back, it was noted that, again as of this time, that all production facilities continue to operate “as usual with appropriate health and safety protocols.”

“Our members are focused on keeping workers safe while maintaining production of our signature spirit that is so vital to the Commonwealth’s economy,” said KDA President Eric Gregory in a prepared statement. “But as many member companies are making decisions to temporarily suspend tours as a precaution that recognizes the interests of public safety, we suggest guests contact individual distillers prior to any visit.”

Given the recommendation by the KDA to contact “participating KBT distilleries regarding currently scheduled tours or prior to scheduling a trip, as it is up to each distillery to determine policies in their hospitality facilities, including tours, gift shops, restaurants and bars,” we’ve shared a list below the KDA compiled of websites of each distillery. You should check those for information, as well as the relevant social media links for each brand (typically found as icon links on said distillery sites, this latter might actually be better as it will likely more quickly be updated versus the websites themselves).


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