Bourbon Industry Bounced Back From COVID-19 Pandemic in 2021 as Kentucky Bourbon Trail Attendance Rose 160%
The Kentucky Distillers’ Association announced Thursday that tour visits to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail and Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour experiences leaped 160% in 2021 from 2020, showing a rally from the first year of COVID-19 despite the virus continuing to wreak havoc throughout 2021.
2021 saw 1.5 million tours, compared with only 587,000 during 2020. 2021’s attendance was 13% lower than 2019’s record mark of 1.7 million, according to a news release.
“The numbers tell the story: the global demand for the authentic Kentucky Bourbon experience is as high as it’s ever been,” KDA President Eric Gregory said. “Our distilleries have moved mountains to provide safe, engaging tourism experiences during a pandemic for guests from all over the world.
“With more Kentucky Bourbon Trail distilleries than ever before, we are looking forward to welcoming a record number of visitors in 2022.”
Gregory noted that the high attendance came despite several Bourbon Trail destinations being closed or at limited capacity due to major expansion projects, the most prominent example being James B. Beam Distilling Co., which was closed for 10 months while constructing its new $60 million tourism experience, which is now open.
The news release noted that the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour had its best year ever in 2021, with more than 615,000 attendees, an increase of 170% from 2020 and 40% from 2019, the year that held the previous record.
The bourbon industry continues its full-throttle ascension. Earlier this month, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear praised his state’s bourbon industry for its economic impact, as a study showed that the bourbon industry now pours $9 billion into Kentucky’s economy annually.
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