This past year was a significantly successful one for whiskey tourism in Kentucky, per new visitor data.
The Kentucky Bourbon Trail — a collection of 18 historic distilleries — and its accompanying Craft Tour recorded a total of over two million visitors in 2022, according to a Feb. 6 press release from the Kentucky Distillers’ Association. Some 2,135,555 visits were recorded last year, the largest number in the attraction’s history.
The Kentucky Bourbon Trail was created by the Kentucky Distillers’ Association in 1999 and focuses on educational experiences at some of the state’s most well-known distilling locations. The previous record, set in 2019, documented 1.7 million visits to the “amber adventure.”
“It’s incredible to see attendance for the Kentucky Bourbon Trail reach an all-time high in 2022, the same year this signature industry saw record-breaking investments and job growth,” Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear states in the release. “The success of Kentucky’s Bourbon industry isn’t slowing down any time soon, and I am grateful to KDA, the distilleries, our tourism partners, and all the amazing Kentuckians who work hard to make this industry so special.”
As for visitor demographics, the Kentucky Distillers’ Association some 70 percent of bourbon tourists originate from outside Kentucky. They tend to skew younger, have household incomes over $100,000, and spend an average of $400–$1,200 on their trip. In comparison to other visitors to the Bluegrass State, whiskey tourists often stay longer and travel in larger groups.
Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour — founded in 2012 as a way to showcase 24 smaller, craft bourbon distilleries in the state — recorded 738,287 visits in 2022.
This milestone in Kentucky’s whiskey tourism comes after a record-breaking year for the state’s bourbon sales. Distillers in the state filled a whopping 11.4 million barrels in 2021, accounting for some $5 million in sales.