2017 Will Be Another Big Year for Bourbon

This year is shaping up to be a hot one for Kentucky’s signature spirit.

If you’ve traveled recently between Lexington and Louisville on I-64, you’ve probably noticed the beautiful new Jeptha Creed facility in the works in Shelbyville.

The new bourbon and spirits distillery will feature grain recipes made from rare heirloom Bloody Butcher corn. Founded by the Nethery family of Shelby County, Jeptha Creed is a 15,500-s.f. distillery that is situated conveniently close to iconic stops on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.

In February, Frankfort-based bourbon scene staple Buffalo Trace announced it’s considering a $25 million expansion of its facility in Frankfort. The project would grow the Sazerac Co. operation’s barrel storage warehouse to keep up with increased demand.

Government officials have been busy making sure all of Kentucky’s bourbon players are competing on an even playing field. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Sen. Rand Paul and Rep. Andy Barr recently reintroduced legislation that corrects a provision in the tax code to ensure that Kentucky’s bourbon producers are no longer at a disadvantage with their global competitors.

The Advancing Growth in the Economy through Distilled Spirits Act in the U.S. Senate and the Aged Distilled Spirits Competitiveness Act in the House of Representatives would permit bourbon producers to deduct interest expenses associated with the production of bourbon in the year it is paid. Under current law, interest expenses are not deducted until the bourbon is bottled and sold, which could be anywhere from two to 23 years after aging.

This is good news for distillers on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour, which in February announced two more members with Bluegrass Distillers in Lexington and Boone County Distilling Co. in Independence. There are now 13 distilleries on the tour showcasing the state’s microdistillery sector. Visitors made more than 175,000 stops on the tour last year.

And finally, Heaven Hill in Cox’s Creek, the nation’s second largest family-owned producer and marketer of distilled spirits, is considering expanding its barrel storage and aging operations in a $5.55 million investment that would all go towards building construction.

– Published in the March 31, 2017 issue of The Lane Report