Today, June 14, is National Bourbon Day. Which begs the question, what day isn’t Bourbon Day? Nonetheless, today holds the distinction of being the “official” day, and so we might as well celebrate it.
Bourbon truly is a cause of daily celebration here in Kentucky, where it is that rare industry that is growing in a sluggish economy. This past weekend, the mayors of the state’s two largest cities, Louisville and Lexington, toured three of the distilleries on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail tour – Wild Turkey, Woodford Reserve and Jim Beam – as part of their BEAM initiative, a joint regional business plan to support good jobs in advanced manufacturing. (BEAM stands for Bluegrass Economic Advancement Movement.)
Many visitors to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail tour make Louisville or Lexington their home base. With a record 500,000 visits recorded last year, that’s a big economic boost for those two cities, as well as for the communities where the tour’s six distilleries are located – almost $19 million since the Kentucky Distillers’ Association began its passport program in 2007, according to a University of Louisville study.
The study also revealed that KDA members are investing $220 million in new or improved distilleries (see the one at Wild Turkey, above), warehouses, equipment or visitors’ centers, such as Jim Beam’s new experience, set to open this fall.
As KDA President Eric Gregory noted, bourbon is a key part of both Kentucky’s history and its future. Sounds like as good a reason as any to raise a glass.