Report: Kentucky is nation’s leading whiskey exporter

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Photo via Governor Andy Beshear's Facebook page

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Kentucky is the nation’s leading exporter of whiskey, which includes bourbon and rye, according to 2019 export reports.

The announcement came while filling the James B. Beam Distilling Co.’s 16-millionth barrel in Clermont Monday

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“We are immensely proud of our signature bourbon industry, and thanks to its national and global appeal, Kentucky’s exports of whiskey hit an all-time high of $485 million last year,” said Governor Andy Beshear. “Our bourbon is now a multi-billion-dollar signature industry, which helps support our families with more than 20,000 jobs and an annual payroll topping $1 billion.”

Officials say overall in 2019, Kentucky exports also continued to grow, reaching more than $33 billion in goods and services shipped abroad.

“Our state continues making its mark on the global economy,” Gov. Beshear added. “Having bested our own export records eight of the past nine years signifies that Kentucky is headed in the right direction. We will work to continue expanding market opportunities for the benefit of businesses throughout the commonwealth.”



Officials say Kentucky fared well when compared to the rest of the United States. The commonwealth grew its exports by 4% over the previous year, despite a nationwide downturn of 1.2%.

Nationally, officials say the state ranked sixth in exports per capita in 2019, based on U.S. Census Bureau population estimates. Kentucky placed 16th overall among all states and Washington D.C., while having just the 26th largest population.

Kentucky led all states in whiskey exports in 2019 at $485 million. That total marks a 326.5% increase since 2004, aided by the bourbon industry’s exponential growth across the past decade-plus. The state exported whiskies to 93 countries throughout the year, with Japan ($91 million), the United Kingdom ($85 million), and Germany ($68 million) serving as Kentucky’s top three markets in the sector.

For the full report, click here.