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95% of the world’s Bourbon is produced in Kentucky.


In 1964, a Congressional Resolution declared Bourbon an indigenous product of the United States—meaning that no other country can make a product and call it Bourbon. This is why Bourbon is revered as “America’s Official Native Spirit.”

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In order for whiskey to be Bourbon, it must be made with a minimum of 51 percent corn, aged in new, charred oak containers, stored at no more than 125 proof and bottled at no less than 80 proof.

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There are now almost 11 million barrels of Bourbon aging in Kentucky, which is 2+ barrels for every person living in the state.


The world got its first taste of the profound history and proud tradition of “America’s Official Native Spirit” when the Kentucky Distillers’ Association (KDA) established the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® in 1999, a road trip-style experience for bourbon lovers to visit the Bluegrass State’s signature distilleries. In 2012, the KDA created the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour® to complement the world-famous Kentucky Bourbon Trail® experience. The Kentucky Bourbon Trail® and the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour® have drawn more than 2.5 million visitors from all 50 states and 25 countries in the last five years and have become leading educational and tourism attractions.
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Bourbon lovers can stop at a few of the distilleries or all 41—there is no wrong way to experience it. Every journey is personalized and requires planning, as some of the distilleries are as far as 70 miles apart. There’s something for everyone—tours, tastings, activities, big-city nightlife, quaint country towns, Bourbon-themed hotels and historic bed & breakfast accommodations.

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They say necessity is the mother of invention, and Bourbon is no exception.

Weary Kentucky settlers—daunted by the task of getting crops to market over narrow trails and steep mountains—put their heads together and landed upon an inspired solution. Converting corn and other grains to bourbon not only made the goods easy to transport and prevented excess grain from spoiling, but it provided settlers a welcome diversion from the rough and often tedious life on the frontier.

Established in 1785, Bourbon County is one of Kentucky’s oldest counties. As an early hub of the whiskey trade, farmers shipped whiskey in oak barrels stamped from Bourbon County down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, all the way to New Orleans. The long trip aged the whiskey, while the oak wood lent it a distinct mellow flavor and amber color. As whiskey from Bourbon County grew in popularity, the liquor became known simply as “Bourbon”.

In 1964, Congress officially recognized Bourbon’s place in America’s history, and its future, by declaring it a distinctive product of the United States. Or, as we like to say, “America’s Official Native Spirit.” Today, Kentuckians continue the time-honored tradition of distilling Bourbon, perfecting the craft their ancestors developed centuries ago.

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Today, Kentucky’s skyrocketing Bourbon industry continues to soar.

In the last two years alone, use of locally grown corn has increased by 65 percent, supporting Kentucky’s farm families. Bourbon’s economic output increased by $1 billion, adding another 2,000 distillery-related jobs to its workforce. Pouring more than $8.5 billion into the state’s economy every year, Kentucky Bourbon generates 17,500 well-paying jobs with an annual payroll of more than $800 million.

And, by providing some $825 million in tax revenue, the industry has spurred an unstoppable $1.2 billion building boom to accommodate new distilleries, aging warehouses, bottling facilities and tourism centers. If the industry continues its astronomical growth, its economic output will exceed $10 billion by 2020, employing more than 20,000 people with a payroll over $1 billion and state tax revenue to the tune of $200 million.

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Download the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® Distillery Map


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