There’s More Bourbon in Kentucky Right now Than any Other Time in the Last 40 Years

Whiskey lovers, take note: the state currently boasts 5.7 million barrels of aging bourbon

Whiskey Barrels
James Leynse/Corbis

Call it a distillery dream or just a lift to whiskey lovers’ spirits: Kentucky’s bourbon production is now the highest it’s been in the last 40 years. The Associated Press’ Bruce Schreiner reports that the state is in the midst of a bona fide “bourbon boom” — a production surge that isn’t expected to end any time soon.

That’s good news for whiskey lovers and Kentucky residents alike, writes Schreiner. He reports that the state, which dominates 95 percent of the world’s bourbon production, has increased production by over 170 percent since 2000. Inventory levels are now higher than they’ve been since 1975, with a whopping 5.7 million barrels aging in distillery warehouses.

According to a report by the Kentucky Distillers Association and the Kentucky Agricultural Development Fund, the boom in bourbon stocks is linked to over a billion dollars in completed and planned capital improvement projects that have dramatically increased production capacity. More expansion means more whiskey, notes Schreiner — and more whiskey aging in barrels means more future revenues.

Schreiner reports that despite the health of Kentucky’s bourbon juggernaut, it’s still tough for whiskeymakers to figure out just how much to produce. Since whiskey takes years to age, it can be hard to project future needs. That could be one reason for huge stockpiles, writes Schreiner, even though they represent a bit of a guess on the part of distilleries.

The news comes despite law enforcement’s recent apprehension of a ring of bourbon thieves. The rogue distillery employees are accused of masterminding the thefts of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of Kentucky whiskey — apparently just a drop in the state’s bourbon barrel.

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