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25/06/2024 By : Nida Kapadia

Kentucky Bourbon Trail ® Celebrates 25th Anniversary and Ushers in Adventurous New Era of Bourbon Tourism

FRANKFORT, KY.— In celebration of its 25th anniversary, the world-famous Kentucky Bourbon Trail® tour is getting a bold new look, a sleek new digital experience for visitors to build their own amber adventure, and a reimagined future by combining the original excursion with its Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour®.  

Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman, Congressman Andy Barr, co-chair of the Congressional Bourbon Caucus, and Kentucky Sen. David Yates of Louisville unveiled the newly reimagined Kentucky Bourbon Trail® before 200 Bourbon luminaries at the Frazier History Museum along historic Whiskey Row in Louisville.

The new-look Bourbon Trail™ experience will showcase 46 of the Commonwealth’s finest distilleries, giving visitors more options to plan their trip and fully focus their attention on the laid-back hospitality, local culture and cuisine, scenic hidden gems and natural wonders on their journey.   

The Kentucky Distillers’ Association created the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® pilgrimage in 1999 to educate visitors on the art and science behind making America’s only native spirit.  It was America’s first spirits tour and has since welcomed more than 18 million visitors from all 50 states and dozens of countries. 

“We knew we had something special, but we never could have dreamed it would evolve from a simple industrial tour of distilleries into an international bucket list experience filled with rare and behind-the-scenes adventures,” Gregory said.

Following rapid growth and innovation by distillers, the KDA created the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour® in 2012 to showcase smaller distilleries. Its 28 craft distilleries will now join the 18 members of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® tour, forming one statewide Bourbon Trail™ experience.

“All Kentucky distilleries - big and small have invested hundreds of millions of dollars into their tourism experiences, resulting in record-breaking economic development, jobs, tax dollars, restaurants, hotels, and more that build off of Bourbon’s popularity. 

“It’s a lucrative path for Bourbon to give back to local communities.”

Elected Officials Toast the Past and Cheer the Future

Congressman Barr’s Congressional Bourbon Caucus is a bipartisan group of members that are dedicated to strengthening the Bourbon industry and educating other Representatives on legislative and regulatory issues that impact it. 

 "As we celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail®, we honor the tradition, craftsmanship, and economic vitality that Bourbon brings to our Commonwealth,” said Rep. Barr, who is from Lexington, one of the KBT’s official Gateway communities. 

“This milestone underscores our rich heritage and the global recognition of Kentucky as the true home of Bourbon. Cheers to another 25 years of excellence and innovation in one of our homegrown signature industries!" 

Rep. Morgan McGarvey, co-chair of the Congressional Bourbon Caucus, was scheduled to participate in the event but had an unexpected emergency. Sen. Yates, the chamber’s Minority Whip and former President of the Louisville Metro Council, stepped in to discuss the KBT’s local and state impact.

“It’s been amazing to see how the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® and Bourbonism has revitalized tourism in Louisville, especially on our historic Whiskey Row,” Sen. Yates said. “Bourbon is unique to our Commonwealth and important to its future.  I’m proud to work alongside legislators on both sides of the aisle and each level of government to protect and elevate its importance in Kentucky.”

To celebrate the 25th anniversary and all that is to come, the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® received special recognition from the federal and state government. U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell’s tribute in the Congressional Record honored the success of the Kentucky landmark.

 “I want to thank all those involved for their stewardship of Kentucky’s heritage and their work to build our State’s vibrant Bourbon industry,” McConnell said. “As the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® celebrates its silver jubilee, I’d like to extend my best wishes to its dedicated team and all the hard-working Kentuckians who have contributed to the enduring popularity and legacy of Bourbon whiskey.”

Additionally, Governor Andy Beshear proclaimed June 20, 2024, as “Bourbon Trail™ Day in the Commonwealth.” Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman delivered the proclamation and offered a toast to the KBT’s past and future. 

“For years, Kentucky’s signature spirit has spurred tourism and economic development helping build our communities,” she said. “With billions in Bourbon investments underway and a bright new future for the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® tour, the world will continue to know that the Commonwealth of Kentucky is the undisputed home of Bourbon.”

A Global Bucket-List Future for the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® Adventure

To plan for the future of the behemoth tourist attraction, the KDA engaged IQS Research to personally interview thousands of KBT® visitors over the last year. The findings clearly proved that the Bourbon Trail™ is elevating Kentucky tourism with an affluent demographic featuring: 

  • 76% of visitors come from outside of Kentucky;
  • Visitors are coming in packs and staying in the region for 3 to 5 days; 
  • Guests typically spend between $600 and $1,400 on dining, entertainment, lodging, and transportation.
  • More than 60% have incomes above $100,000; 
  • 60% of visitors are male, 36% female, 4% non-binary; 
  • 12% identified as a racial minority and 7% identified as LGBTQIA+;
  • 91% discovered a new product or Bourbon brand during their trip; and
  • 97% were highly satisfied with their distillery experience, and 96% would recommend the KBT® to their family and friends. 

Following a nationwide search for a marketing partner to help formulate the Bourbon Trail’s future, the KDA began working with Nashville-based agency Lewis.

Utilizing the IQS data and the KDA’s biennial economic impact report, the Lewis team held in-depth interviews with leadership and frontline employees at Kentucky Bourbon Trail® attractions and conducted further in-depth research in key feeder markets to collect potential visitors’ impressions. 

The impressive result is an all-new brand identity that is modern, adventurous, and reflective of the new and elevated offerings at distilleries. The new logo embraces the rich colors and textures of the Commonwealth’s Bourbon legacy and features typography that’s symbolic of iconic trailhead signs, evoking a keen sense of adventure.

Recognizing the Trail™ experience can no longer be completed in a long weekend, the reimagined Kentucky Bourbon Trail® will shift away from incentivizing the desire to quickly finish the journey to instead slowing down, savoring the adventure and exploring the possibilities. 

Visitors will begin to see the changes throughout the summer, including:

  • A fresh new look that conveys a sense of discovery, elevated adventure and attainable luxury;
  • A combined Kentucky Bourbon Trail® and Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour® into one Bourbon Trail™ program; 
  • An all-new digital experience to help guests explore and prepare for their trip like never before;
  • Ability to Build Your Own Bourbon Trail®, allowing visitors to imagine and explore a wide range of possible itineraries before they ever arrive in Kentucky. #BYOBT

“Our guides on the frontline of the Bourbon Trail™ know there is an experience that’s perfect for each and every visitor, and the reimagined Kentucky Bourbon Trail® will be even easier to explore and discover,” said Jes Pendergrass, Chair of the KDA Board of Directors and General Counsel & Chief Compliance Officer at Heaven Hill. 

“Just as every Bourbon is a unique expression, each distillery brings its own personality to the visitor experience, and the Bourbon Trail™ has more offerings than ever before. We encourage our visitors to take their time, sip and savor each moment, and come back often to relax and enjoy our laid-back Kentucky Bourbon culture.”

Katie Peninger, Vice President of Account Service at Lewis, said, “What we learned is that Bourbon tourists know what they want, why they’re here, and what their priorities are. With #BYOBT, the visitor decides what’s important, and the website presents them with the distilleries, hotels and restaurants that match their preferences.”

Visitors can follow Kentucky Bourbon Trail® on Facebook and Instagram to stay up to date and be the first to know when the new digital experiences are ready for use. For more information, go to www.kybourbontrail.com

 

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