Whisky Magazine Issue 137
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A focus on who is doing what and where
Just when you thought it reached its limits, the Bourbon industry grows faster. Today, America's native spirit is a $3 billion industry in Kentucky, which produces 95 per cent of the world's supply. Bourbon production has increased 315 per cent since 1999 from 455,078 barrels to 1,886,821 barrels in 2015, according to the Kentucky Distillers Association (KDA). Despite the ongoing chatter about a Bourbon shortage last year's count was over 6.7 million barrels hanging out ageing in the Bluegrass State. (That means there's 1.5 barrels for every human in Kentucky.) And the global fervour is not contained to drinking the spirit. In pursuit of full cultural immersion, people from around the world are flocking to the distilleries, many of which are investing huge sums to build distillery visitor centres for Bourbon pilgrims. In 2015, the KDA reports that the big distilleries along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail welcomed 134,000 visitors, and tourists spend an average of $1,000 while in the state.
We wondered what's going on in all the individual still houses, so we checked in with a bunch of the longstanding brands to see where the industry's been and where it's going. Here's what we learned.
Buffalo Trace's remit of the past few years appears to be 'build, build, build!' After unveiling a revamped visitor centre in October 2015, they just finished constructing a 'vault', which is designed like a giant jail cell and used as display platform for whiskeys from ...