February 6, 2013

Kentucky Bourbon Sales Soar in 2012

Combined with Tennessee whiskey, Kentucky bourbon sales climbed to over $2 billion for 2012.

Together the two sold 16.9 million cases in 2012, a 5.2 percent increase over 2011, according to the Distilled Spirits Council. Overall revenue was up by 7.3 percent to $2.2 billion.

"This is the second or third year in a row now that we've seen strong growth from the bourbon and Tennessee whiskey category," economist, David Ozgo, saithe council's chief d in a conference call. "It means that the consumer is really willing to experiment."

The two are included in the same category because they're basically produced in the same way, with the exception of Tennessee whiskeys being charcoal mellowed before being placed in an aging barrel, while bourbons are placed into the barrels with no charcoal filtering.

According to the Kentucky Distillers' Association, the Bluegrass state produces 95 percent of the bourbon produced in the world. As of this writing, there are about 4.9 million barrels of bourbon aging in Kentucky.

Leading the way in 2012 gains were premium brands, which are defined by being aged for a longer period of time.

Both whiskey and bourbon were strong in that regard, with volume jumping by 12.4 percent. As a result, revenue rose to $222 million for super-premium brands. Regular premium brands had sales volume increase 7.5 percent, with revenue coming in at $499 million.

This growth has resulted in an expansion boom for Kentucky in 2012, with $230 million being invested in new facilities or expansion of existing facilities.

A secondary benefit is the growing number of tourists interested in visiting the distilleries, with over 500,000 visitors in 2012, a huge 15 percent boost over 2011.

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