2022 looks to have been the banner year for the Kentucky bourbon industry, with all time highs of new investments and full times jobs created.
Kentucky, for 2022, recorded its best year for growth of its signature bourbon and spirits industry, with over $2.1 billion in new investments and approximately 700 new jobs for Kentucky residents. This was recently announced by Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear as he joined leaders at Buffalo Trace Distillery to fill the company’s 8 millionth barrel of Kentucky bourbon since Prohibition.
“Kentucky’s bourbon and spirits industry continues to set itself apart as we conclude another tremendous year of growth statewide,” said Gov. Beshear in a prepared statement. “The momentum has been incredible, and the demand for Kentucky bourbon just keeps growing around the world. With monumental investments from companies like Sazerac Co., Beam Suntory and Pernod Ricard, our bourbon industry is reaching new heights.
“I want to thank everyone who has made this growth possible, from the companies themselves to the communities they’re calling home. Bourbon has a truly statewide impact, with partners in every corner of the commonwealth.”
According to information from the state, there are “distilleries in one-third of Kentucky counties, with that footprint expected to increase in the years ahead. Of this year’s announcements, a large portion reside in rural Kentucky, where projects total $1.98 billion in announced investments and 550 new jobs. The commonwealth also saw five new foreign-owned projects contributing to over $730 million in investments and 125 new jobs.”
These commitments, it is said, add to the commonwealth’s booming bourbon sector, which is a nearly $9 billion signature industry in Kentucky generating more than 22,500 jobs with an annual payroll exceeding $1.23 billion.
Among these various growth plans that were announced in 2022, the following in particular standout:
- Sazerac Co.’s expansion with a $600 million commitment in Laurel County, creating 50 full-time jobs.
- Beam Suntory with an investment of over $400 million at Booker Noe Distillery in Nelson County, creating more than 50 full-time positions.
- Pernod Ricard USA’s investment of up to $250 million, creating 55 full-time positions to establish a fully carbon neutral distillery in Marion County.
- Heaven Hill’s ground breaking on a $135 million distillery project that will return the company’s distilling operations to Nelson County for the first time since the 1996 fire that resulted in a total loss of the previous distillery, creating 38 full-time jobs for Bardstown residents.
- Willett Distillery’s locating in Washington County, with a commitment of nearly $93 million toward a new-location project that will create 35 full-time jobs for Kentuckians.
“These investments, new jobs and the tourism they will bring are pivotal in Kentucky retaining its crown as the one, true and authentic home of bourbon,” said Eric Gregory, president of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association.
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...