For the first time since its inception, over a half million people last year travelled the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. The new attendance record represents a 15 percent increase over 20-11. Kentucky Bourbon Trail Experience Director Adam Johnson says there were visitors from all 50 states and over 50 countries. “There’s places all along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail where you’ll just run into the guy that made it. Just the other day people were telling me how they ran into Jimmy Russell down at Wild Turkey. I mean, his name’s on a bottle. People just love seeing the rock stars of our industry,” said Johnson.
Created in 1999, the Bourbon Trail includes the Four Roses and Wild Turkey distilleries in Lawrenceburg, Heaven Hill in Bardstown, Jim Beam in Clermont, Maker’s Mark in Loretto, Town Branch in Lexington, and Woodford Reserve in Versailles. Johnson adds many of those visitors ate at local restaurants and slept in nearby hotels.
“Even in the last year, we’ve seen more and more people saying, and this is a big deal in terms of economic impact, you need three days to complete the Kentucky Bourbon Trail tour. That’s huge, that’s an extra room night, that’s extra meals, that’s extra gas, that’s time to see some other signature attractions in our state,” added Johnson.
Adam Johnson says it certainly indicates more bourbon is consumed. Johnson adds it also shows an interest in the inner workings of the industry, particularly with the high end bourbons. He says responsible drinking is stressed at all seven of the trail’s distilleries.
“We’re always pushing that and the law with our tastings at the distilleries, you know it really limits that in terms of what’s your able to have while you’re enjoying the Kentucky Bourbon Trail tour. We always want people to be safe and we push that,” said Johnson.
The seven bourbon facilities greeted visitors from all 50 states and more than 50 countries during 2012. The leading group to make all seven stops, for the first time was not from Kentucky, but Ohio.