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The Bourbon Buzz around Kentucky

Bourbon Production and  Tourism Breaking Records

The Kentucky Bourbon Trail and affiliated Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour set all-time attendance records in 2015. Nearly 900,000 guests toured participating distilleries, which means the tourism attraction has more than doubled its attendance in five years.

The Kentucky Bourbon Trail alone saw 762,000 visitors that year, a 22 percent increase from the previous year’s record numbers. Tourists came from all 50 states and 15 countries.

Bourbon production across the state also continues to climb with 1,886,000 barrels of bourbon produced in 2015, breaking records dating back to the previous all-time high in 1967.

Since 2000, Kentucky’s bourbon production has exploded by more than 315 percent. Currently, there are one-and-a-half barrels of bourbon for every person living in Kentucky.

Buffalo Trace & Four Roses Expanding Production

Two staple bourbon distilleries announced major expansions this year: Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort and Four Roses Distillery in Lawrenceburg.

Buffalo Trace has pledged $200 million to grow distilling operations over the next seven years to keep up with a growing demand. Named after where a long forgotten buffalo migration route crossed the Kentucky River, Buffalo Trace is the oldest continuously operating distillery in America.

Buffalo Trace has already acquired two additional barrel warehouses that each hold 50,000 barrels of bourbon. The distillery plans to convert other buildings for warehouses, with additional plans to build new warehouses in 2017 on 200 acres of farmland purchased a few years ago.

Four Roses Distillery similarly cannot produce enough bourbon to meet demand, which is why the company announced that it is investing $55 million into an expansion that will double its distilling capacity and add warehouses. Once a company on the verge of closure, Four Roses dramatically reversed its fortunes in 2001 when it reintroduced its single-barrel bourbon in Kentucky.

The award-winning distillery plans to complete a new still and 60,000-square-foot bottling plant by the end of 2018. The new warehouses will open by 2022.



No fewer than 14 bourbon distilleries have either opened in the past year or will open in the next couple of years in the Bluegrass State.

Bulleit Distilling Company — Also known as Diageo Bourbon Distillery, the new distillery will open in Shelby County by late 2016. Bulleit ranks as one of the fastest-growing small-batch whiskeys in America.

Luxco Distillery — The distillery will open in the Bourbon Capital of the World, Bardstown, in late 2017. The 18,000-square-foot distillery will include a visitors center.

Bardstown Bourbon Company — Slated for completion in 2016, the $25 million distillery will open with a visitors center in the Nelson County Industrial Park. The second phase of construction will include an event center and a boutique hotel.

Hartfield and Company — Although historically tied to the creation of bourbon whiskey, Bourbon County had been without a distillery since Prohibition until the recent opening of Hartfield and Company in Paris. With the exception of sugar and molasses, its ingredients will all come from within 10 miles of the distillery.

Across the State — Other recently opened and upcoming bourbon distilleries are Kentucky Peerless Distilling in Louisville, Angel’s Envy Distillery in Louisville, Boundary Oak Distillery in Elizabethtown, Dueling Barrels Distilling Company in Pikeville, Dueling Grounds Distillery in Franklin, O.Z. Tyler Distillery in Owensboro, Old Forester Distillery in Louisville, Rabbit Hole Distillery in Louisville, Jeptha Creed in Shelbyville, and Castle and Key Distillery in Millville.