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Bourbon Tourism Booming

Reported by: Melanie Kendall
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Updated: 4/15 6:35 pm

A new visitor’s center is now open at Wild Turkey. It’s a sign of the growing bourbon tourism industry in Kentucky.

About 250,000 people visited at least one bourbon distillery last year. 

Wild Turkey said about 63,000 people visited the distillery last year and they’re expected at least 80,000 people this yea.

“It's just such a small community it's really neat to be able to be part of this industry that was born and raised here in Kentucky,” said Eddie Russell, a distiller at Wild Turkey.

Wild Turkey said people travel from all around the country, even from around the world for a taste of Kentucky Bourbon.

That's money that's coming right into this central Kentucky area because between here and Bardstown is where it's all happening,” said Russell.

Bourbon tourism has taken off in the past 20 years and Wild Turkey said they’re constantly expanding to keep up.

They said in the past five years they’ve put in about $100 million dollars into building the new visitors center and a new bottling center.

“We're making something that's not going to be sold for six to seven to eight to ten, 12 2 years from now so we're planning on the future that the bourbon industry continues to go on,” said Jimmy Russell, the master distiller at Wild Turkey.  “It's a growing business.  Everybody's drinking bourbon now.”

Wild Turkey said the demand is growing internationally and younger people, ages 21-35, along with women are starting to drink more bourbon.

Wild Turkey said hotels and restaurants in the community also benefit from growing bourbon tourism because it usually takes a few days to get through all eight distilleries on the bourbon trail and people need places to stay and eat.

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