Record Number of Visitors Hit the Bourbon Trail
The Kentucky Bourbon Trail experience recorded more than 630,000 visits in 2013, a new milestone for the tour that showcases the state’s legendary Bourbon and craft distilleries.
A record 571,701 people visited the Kentucky Bourbon Trail tour last year, and an additional 61,698 traveled to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour in its first full year of existence, for a total of 633,399 distillery guests statewide.
“We’re always thrilled to see double-digit growth among the heritage distilleries, but we’re equally excited to see the fledgling craft tour really take flight,” said Adam Johnson, director of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail program.
The addition of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour has greatly expanded the Bourbon tourism footprint, Johnson said, from Marshall County and Land Between the Lakes in far Western Kentucky to Mason County in the northern part of the state.
“With new distilleries coming on board, more and more people are experiencing the charm and beauty of our communities, which adds revenue to local coffers and greatly boosts tourism efforts. It’s all good news and good business for the Commonwealth,” Johnson said.
The new attendance record for heritage distilleries is a 12 percent increase over 2012 and includes figures from Heaven Hill’s Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, which opened in the fall as the first Louisville stop on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail tour.
Visitors came from all 50 states and 50 countries and territories, including Australia, Belgium, Bulgaria, China, Denmark, Egypt, England, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Peru, Poland, Russia, Rwanda, Spain and Vanuatu, which is an island nation located in the South Pacific.
Created by the Kentucky Distillers’ Association in 1999, the tour also features Four Roses and Wild Turkey, Lawrenceburg; Heaven Hill, Bardstown; Jim Beam, Clermont; Maker’s Mark, Loretto; Town Branch, Lexington and Woodford Reserve in Versailles.
The Craft Tour added Danville’s Wilderness Trace Distillery last year, joining Barrel House in Lexington; Corsair in Bowling Green; Limestone Branch in Lebanon; MB Roland, Pembroke; Old Pogue, Maysville; Silver Trail, Hardin; and Willett in Bardstown.
Several distilleries are expanding and opening new visitors’ centers to meet the Bourbon tourism boom. Wild Turkey recently completed a new center overlooking the Kentucky River and Woodford Reserve is currently expanding its state-of-the-art homeplace.
In addition, dozens of Bourbon-inspired restaurants, bars, hotels, transportation companies, markets, specialty food stores, convention and visitors bureaus and more all signed on to be official Kentucky Bourbon Trail sponsors in 2013, Johnson said.
Kentucky Bourbon Trail distilleries will be offering exclusive tours and events in May as part of the inaugural Kentucky Bourbon Affair showcase, a four-day Bourbon “fantasy camp” hosted by the Kentucky Distillers’ Association and the city of Louisville.
For more information, see Kentucky Bourbon Trail and Kentucky Bourbon Affair. The KDA’s website is found here.
“Kentucky is the one, true home for Bourbon, and the only place where visitors can walk in the footsteps of legends and learn the art and science of our timeless craft,” Johnson said.
“We hope visitors from all over the world let the spirit lead them to Kentucky in 2014 so they can experience the hospitality, history and elegance of our beloved Commonwealth and unrivaled passion for creating the world’s best Bourbon.”