Kentucky bourbon makers filled almost 1.9 million barrels in 2015, a 44 percent increase over the previous year and the most in 48 years, according to state revenue data and the Kentucky Distillers’ Association.
The all-time high, according to the KDA, was 1,922,009 barrels filled in 1967.
The 1,886,821 barrels joined millions already in warehouses to give the state 6,657,063 barrels of aging bourbon, the most since 1974. The state counts the barrels to know how much tax the distillers owe; this year distillers will pay $17,814,134 in barrel taxes.
Including brandy and other aging whiskeys, the barrel inventory tops 7.2 million, with a tax-assessed value of $2.4 billion, a $299 million increase over the previous year.
With the industry in the midst of a building boom, fueled in part by tax incentives from the state, Kentucky may surpass the 1967 record this year: several distilleries are adding capacity for both making and aging spirits, and new distilleries are under construction.
“We’re filling more barrels, creating more good-paying jobs, generating more tax revenue and attracting more tourists than ever before,” said Eric Gregory, KDA president, in a news release. “The entire commonwealth, and especially our local distilling communities, is realizing the benefits of the growing global thirst for bourbon.”