Bourbon Industry

Kentucky bourbon distillers filled 1.2 million barrels in 2013

New barrels were lined up to be filled at the Wild Turkey Distillery.
New barrels were lined up to be filled at the Wild Turkey Distillery. Herald-Leader

Kentucky's bourbon renaissance shows no sign of slowing down: The state's distilleries filled 1.2 million barrels in 2013, according to the Kentucky Distillers' Association.

That tops 2012's production of slightly more than 1 million barrels. The 2013 production is the highest since 1970, according to the KDA.

At the end of 2013, there were almost 5.3 million barrels of bourbon aging in warehouses around the state, with more on the way as distilleries continue to grow. There also are 600,000 barrels of brandy and other whiskeys.

"Our historic warehouses are brimming with plenty of Kentucky bourbon to satisfy the growing global thirst for our mellow amber nectar," KDA president Eric Gregory said. "Distillers are making landmark investments, creating new jobs, driving record numbers of tourists to the state and pouring hundreds of millions into local economies."

Distilleries paid $15.2 million in ad valorem "barrel" taxes last year to the state and to local communities. Earlier this year, the Kentucky General Assembly passed a tax break that will allow distilleries to apply for a corporate income tax credit for the amount of barrel tax paid; the money must be used for industry investment, such as more warehouses, distilling capacity and visitors centers.

There were almost 750,000 visits to Kentucky distilleries in 2013, according to the KDA and Sazerac, which is not a member of the distillers' group.