Kentucky is the birthplace of Bourbon, producing 95 percent of the world’s supply. Only Kentucky has the perfect natural mix of climate, conditions and pure limestone water necessary for producing the world’s best Bourbon.
Bourbon is America’s only native spirit, as declared by Congress in 1964. It must be made with a minimum of 51 percent corn, aged in charred new oak barrels and stored at no more than 125 proof.
Bourbon production has increased more than 120 percent since 1999 (455,078 barrels compared to 1,007,703 in 2012), with premium small batch and single barrel brands driving the Bourbon renaissance.
Bourbon production in 2012 topped the one million mark for the first time since 1973.
Total Bourbon inventory reached 4.9 million barrels in 2012, the highest it’s been since 1977. That means there are more barrels of Bourbon aging in the Bluegrass than there are people (4.3 million) and horses (242,000) living in the Commonwealth.
The 2012 tax-assessed value of all barrels aging in Kentucky was $1.7 billion – up $350 million from 2011. The 2013 assessment values have not been finalized.
Distilling contributed nearly $2 billion in gross state product in 2010, easily doubling its output and importance to the state’s overall economic activity over the last 13 years.
Kentucky’s signature distilling industry is responsible for 9,000 jobs with an annual payroll of $415 million. Spirits production and consumption generates more than $126 million in state and local taxes every year.
About 60 percent of every bottle of spirits in Kentucky goes to taxes or fees, with seven different taxes on Bourbon – including a tax on barrels for each and every year it ages.
U.S. distilled spirits exports topped $1.5 billion in 2012. Kentucky Bourbon and Tennessee whiskey made up more than $700 million of that amount, making it the largest export category among all U.S. distilled spirits.
Kentucky’s Bourbon manufacturers have invested more than $230 million in capital projects in the last year alone, from new distilleries and aging warehouses to increased bottling facilities and state-of-the-art tourism centers.