Nearly 10 Million Barrels Of Bourbon And Other Spirits Showcase Kentucky’s Strength

By Nino Kilgore-Marchetti / November 23, 2020

Kentucky is easily the driving force behind all things American whiskey. The production of bourbon and other forms of whiskey here dwarfs that of other states, and that only continues to get deeper and deeper in inventory even as the pandemic continues across the United States. To this end the Kentucky Distillers’ Association (KDA) recently let it be known there are nearly 10 million barrels of bourbon and other distilled spirits aging in warehouses across the state.

Some of the whiskey barrels at Michter’s at rest (image copyright The Whiskey Wash)

It is said the barrel inventory for 2020, according to the KDA, broke several state records, which include:

  • Total barrels of bourbon and other spirits: 9,864,197
  • Total barrels of just bourbon: 9,266,228
  • Number of barrels of bourbon filled last year: 2,122,954

The previous high of total barrels was 9.1 million last year. Before that, it was 8.7 million in 1968. From a historical perspective, it is interesting to note that:

  • this is the first time since 1967, when the KDA started keeping barrel inventory records, that the number of just aging Bourbon barrels topped nine million.
  • 2020 marks the second year in a row that Kentucky distillers have filled two million barrels, the first time that’s happened in the modern era.
  • the number of total barrels has increased 164% since the turn of the century.

What’s interesting to note here is as well that all of these numbers are based on warehouse inventories reported as of Jan. 1, 2020, from 42 distillers, rectifiers and other companies licensed to store barrels. These figures include all of those companies, the vast majority of which are KDA member distilleries.

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“To the world,” said Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear in a prepared statement, “Kentucky’s iconic Bourbon and spirits industry is renowned and loved for its delicious, high-quality products. To Kentucky, the industry represents our history and future, with thousands of Kentuckians employed at distilleries and adjacent businesses.

“We are committed to strengthening our historic distilling industry, knowing it is not just our heritage but a main economic driver as we build a better Kentucky that works for all our citizens.”