Louisville, Kentucky — Concerns about the pandemic hangover of Kentucky’s world-famous bourbon industry are rapidly disappearing as tourists flock to distilleries.
The $ 19 million tourist center opened by the Heaven Hill Distillery in the state center of Bourbon just a few days ago is already flooded. Learn about whiskey making and quickly fill up your reservations for tasting its spirits, including the flagship Evan Williams whiskey.
This is also true for many other distilleries in the region, where visitors were temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic last spring. More than a year later, companies are facing overwhelming demand for tours, so one industry insider should call in advance or check the availability of tours online before getting off the freeway. I started to recommend it to people.
Since last summer, some distilleries have begun to allow a limited number of visitors due to virus restrictions. The capacity limit is now lifted and the attraction is preparing for a full revival of many guests from outside Kentucky.
“We saw it coming, but I don’t think we saw it coming so soon,” said Eric Gregory, president of the Kentucky Distillery Association.
“We were a hot destination before COVID cooled us a lot,” he added. “But now we’re back where people want to go out. They want to have fun.”
Gregory predicted that tourism in Bourbon would rapidly return to pre-pandemic levels.
“I think next year will be close to normal, and if this trend continues, I think this year will be a record year,” he said.
According to the association, bourbon is Kentucky’s $ 8.6 billion industry, producing 95% of the world’s supply. Approximately 9.3 million barrels of bourbon are aging in the state last year, with more than two barrels aging for everyone in Kentucky. Bourbon tourism has become a big business, partly due to the growing enthusiasm overseas.
The Spirits company has invested heavily in new or expanded visitor centers to regenerate the heritage of the industry and allow guests to immerse themselves in the sights and smells of bourbon making. Visitors to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail spend an average of $ 400 to $ 1,200 on a single trip, Gregory said. Over 70% of visitors come from outside Kentucky.
To help visitors plan their trip, the organization is promoting a new Bourbon Trail Passport and Field Guide, which is a 150-page guide to the distilleries participating in the cocktail recipes and proposed itineraries.
According to former mayor Dixie Hibbs, in Bardstown, where Heaven Hill opened a tourist center, the return of tourists will significantly increase spending on restaurants, stores and motels.
About 40 miles southeast of Louisville, the picturesque town is so intertwined with industry that the scent of locally crafted bourbon drifts downtown.
“Most people will tell you that it smells of money,” Hibbs said.
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear (left) joins Heaven Hill brand President Max L. Shapira on June 14 to toast the new Heaven Hill Bourbon Experience in Birdstown, Kentucky.
Bourbon Sightseeing Shake Off the Kentucky Pandemic Stagnation
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