Kentucky Bourbon Path attendance reaches report heights

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Bourbon tourism reached new heights final 12 months in Kentucky, the place guests flocked to massive and small distilleries because the whiskey-making points of interest shook off any pandemic-era hangover.

Attendance at distilleries alongside the Kentucky Bourbon Path surpassed 2 million in 2022 for the primary time ever, the Kentucky Distillers’ Affiliation introduced. Venerable bourbon producers and trade newcomers alike benefited from the surge.

Whole visits exceeded 2.1 million final 12 months, simply beating the pre-pandemic report of 1.7 million stops in 2019, the distillers’ group stated. Prior to now decade, the “amber journey” has had a 370% surge in attendance — a boon to the state recognized world wide for bourbon manufacturing, it stated.

“The success of Kentucky’s bourbon trade isn’t slowing down anytime quickly,“ Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear stated.

The distillers’ affiliation created the Kentucky Bourbon Path in 1999 to present guests an intimate, academic look behind the state’s most historic distilleries. Whole attendance at its 18 collaborating distilleries almost reached 1.4 million final 12 months, the group stated.

The Kentucky Bourbon Path Craft Tour launched in 2012 to showcase smaller distilleries had its greatest 12 months. Now that includes 24 distilleries, its whole attendance final 12 months was 738,287.

Spirit firms have invested big sums into new or expanded customer facilities to play up the trade’s heritage and permit visitors to soak within the sights and smells of bourbon-making.

Throughout the top of the pandemic, distilleries within the area have been closed briefly to guests.

Some producers eased again into tourism by permitting restricted numbers of holiday makers. As soon as virus restrictions have been lifted, bourbon tourism bounced again with a full resurgence.

Analysis exhibits that bourbon vacationers are typically youthful, spend between $400 and $1,200 on their journey, journey in massive teams, and keep longer than the common customer to Kentucky, the distillers’ affiliation stated. Greater than 70% of holiday makers are from outdoors Kentucky.

“This can be a residence run demographic for native communities, producing useful income and tax {dollars} whereas boosting a hospitality trade that’s nonetheless recovering from the COVID pandemic,” stated Kentucky Distillers’ Affiliation President Eric Gregory.

To encourage accountable consuming on the tour, distilleries provide water and nonalcoholic drinks and plenty of have meals or snacks accessible. The affiliation stated it promotes using designated drivers and transportation firms to stem impaired driving. Additionally, state regulation restricts free pattern sizes at distilleries and plenty of voluntarily restrict cocktail gross sales at their in-house bar or restaurant, the distillers’ group stated.

The expansion in bourbon tourism has created some challenges. Most distilleries now require reservations, so reserving stops upfront is essential, stated Mandy Ryan, director of the affiliation’s Kentucky Bourbon Path experiences.

Kentucky now boasts greater than 11.4 million barrels of bourbon getting older in warehouses throughout the state, probably the most in its storied distilling historical past, the affiliation stated. Distillers crammed greater than 2.6 million barrels final 12 months, marking the fourth straight 12 months manufacturing topped the two million mark.


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