A record 13,173 people have toured all six participating distilleries through Sept. 30 and collected stamps for their Passports. That far surpasses last year's total of 11,757 completions.
The milestone fell Friday as the KDA finished processing thousands of Passports from runners who competed in The Bourbon Chase annual relay race last weekend, said Adam Johnson, the KDA's Director of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® experience.
"This is big news, particularly for our local communities," Johnson said. "These are year round visitors coming in packs from all over the world, ready to spend, pouring much needed revenue into local coffers."
An economic impact study released earlier this year by the University of Louisville found that every person who completes the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® tour spends an average of $737 on their trip.
That means visitors this year alone have already generated nearly $10 million in revenue for communities with a Kentucky Bourbon Trail® distillery, Johnson said. "This is further proof that Bourbon is a vital part of our history, culture, economy and future."
The KDA created the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® program in 1999 to offer visitors a firsthand, educational experience into the art and science of crafting the world's greatest Bourbon.
The iconic journey features Four Roses and Wild Turkey in Lawrenceburg; Heaven Hill in Bardstown; Jim Beam in Clermont; Maker's Mark in Loretto; Town Branch in
Lexington and Woodford Reserve in Versailles.
In 2007, the KDA launched its souvenir "Passport" program to reward visitors with a
complimentary T-shirt once they complete tours of all Kentucky Bourbon Trail®
distilleries. Since then, nearly 40,000 people have finished the tour.
The skyrocketing growth has been inspiring, said KDA President Eric Gregory. There has been a 6,869 percent increase in the number of people who completed the Passport program since it began in 2007, when only 189 people earned their commemorative shirt.
"That's an amazing statistic that bears repeating," he said. "In the last five years, we've enjoyed a nearly seven thousand percent increase in the number of people who toured all six legendary distilleries. And we're just getting started."
Other key facts:
- More than 2 million people have visited a Kentucky Bourbon Trail® distillery in the last five years, with nearly a half million in 2011 alone.
- The 13,173 Passport holders this year have come from all 50 states and 10 countries.
- More than one third of Passport holders have a household income above $100,000, and the average household income is $91,000.
- 85 percent of distillery visitors came from outside Kentucky, and 75 percent came just for the purpose of enjoying the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® experience.
- More than 75 percent stayed in a hotel or bed and breakfast, 50 percent stayed three or more days, and 40 percent had three or more people in their group.
"We are proud that Kentucky is the birthplace of Bourbon and the only place in the world where visitors can enjoy the one, true and authentic Bourbon experience," Johnson said. "The fact that we've broken this record with three months to spare is a tribute to the success and growing popularity of our signature spirit."
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