FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – The Kentucky Distillers’ Association (KDA) has announced Rabbit Hole Distillery, Wilderness Trail Distillery and Willett Distillery have advanced to the rank of “Heritage” members. According to the non-profit, the rank is the highest level that unites and leads the state’s signature Bourbon and spirits industry.
To qualify as a Heritage member, distilleries must have at least 25,000 barrels of distilled spirits aging in Kentucky warehouses. As Heritage members, Rabbit Hole, Wilderness Trail and Willett will have an expanded leadership role in the management of the association and the future of the iconic industry.
The KDA also announced New Riff Distillery has met inventory requirements to advance to “Proof” level membership, the second-highest tier. “Proof” level membership is reserved for established licensed distilleries that maintain an inventory between 10,000 and 25,000 barrels of distilled spirits, according to the KDA.
KDA President Eric Gregory said, “In addition to their individual achievements, all four companies actively work for the greater good of the industry and will now expand that leadership role. We raise a glass to toast their success and advancement within the KDA ranks and our iconic industry.”
According to the KDA, there are now 14 Heritage members, including: Bardstown Bourbon Company, Beam Suntory (Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark), Brown-Forman, Diageo North America, Four Roses, Green River Distilling Co., Heaven Hill Brands, Louisville Distilling Company, Lux Row, Michter’s and Wild Turkey.
Jessica Pendergrass, Chairwoman of KDA’s Board of Directors and General Counsel at Heaven Hill Brands, joined Gregory in virtually presenting the companies with commemorative barrel heads at the KDA’s 140th Annual Meeting of Members held online last week due to COVID.
“It has been a groundbreaking year for KDA and that is reflected in the strength of the members we have moving into higher tiers of representation,” Pendergrass said. “We had another record-setting production year and the distilling industry in Kentucky continues to flourish and expand.”
Founded in 1880, the KDA is the state’s voice for Bourbon and spirits issues. Its diverse membership produces the overwhelming majority of the world’s Bourbon, from legendary, global brands to emerging micro distilleries that are building the next generation of the timeless craft.
According to the KDA, Kentucky Bourbon is an $8.6 billion economic engine that generates more than 20,100 jobs with an annual payroll topping $1 billion million each year.
In addition, the KDA reports the industry is in the middle of a $2.3 billion building boom, from innovative new tourism centers to expanded production facilities, all to meet the growing global thirst for Kentucky Bourbon.
There are now nearly 10 million barrels of Bourbon and other spirits aging in Kentucky warehouses, the highest number in the modern era of American Whiskey. Of that, 9.3 million are just Bourbon, the first time since 1967 that the number of Bourbon barrels topped nine million, according to the KDA.