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Bourbon Has $9 Billion Impact on Kentucky Economy

A new report estimates that the Bourbon industry has a $9 billion economic impact on Kentucky’s economy each year. According to the biennial report commissioned by the Kentucky Distillers Association, that impact includes more than 23,000 jobs with annual salaries and benefits totaling $2.2 billion.

“Kentucky Bourbon is a $9 billion economic and tourism powerhouse for our Commonwealth, now generating more jobs, more payroll, more tax revenue, more tourists and more distilleries in more Kentucky counties than ever before, KDA President Eric Gregory said at a briefing at the state Capitol in Frankfort.

The state’s 100 licensed distilleries purchased 21 million bushels of grain from Kentucky farmers during 2023, accounting for 70 percent of their grain needs and providing what Agriculture Commissioner Jonathan Shell called a boon for farm families across the Commonwealth. “It’s areas of this state that have a hard time with economic development, but this is an area in which they’re able to help them with their local economies. With the distillers, the farmers, the people who work these fields and the people who distill these spirits, this is something that helps grow Kentucky a tremendous amount,” he said.

The industry accounted for $358 million in state and local taxes during 2023, up 180% from when the KDA’s first economic impact study was conducted in 2009. The industry also accounted for $1.9 billion in federal excise taxes – nearly 25 percent of the federal government’s entire revenue from alcohol excise taxes. In addition, Bourbon distilleries generated 2.5 million visitor experiences during 2023, leading to further economic growth in the hospitality sector.

The study was conducted again this year by University of Louisville professor emeritus of economics Paul Coomes and economic consultant Barry Kornstein. With Coomes retiring, the biennial studies will now be conducted by the University of Kentucky’s James B. Beam Institute.

The report is available to download here.