LEXINGTON - For the first time since 1977 there are more than 5 million bourbon barrels aging in Kentucky warehouses, according to the Kentucky Distillers' Association.
Kentucky's distilleries filled 1.2 million barrels last year, the most since 1970, figures released Tuesday by the KDA state. Production has skyrocketed more than 150 percent in the last 15 years, resulting in 5,294,988 aging barrels at the end of 2013.
"We're pushing production and inventories past milestones not seen in generations," said Eric Gregory, president of the Kentucky Distillers' Association, a nonprofit trade group. "Distillers are making landmark investments, creating new jobs, driving record numbers of tourists to the state and pouring hundreds of millions into local economies."
When other spirits including brandy and non-bourbon whiskies are added to the totals, the state's total barrel inventory was 5.9 million in 2013, the highest total since 1975.
The tax-assessed value of aging barrels this year is $1.9 billion, an increase of $81 million from 2013 and up from $1 billion at the end of 2006. As a result, distilleries paid $15.2 million in ad valorem barrel taxes last year to the state and local communities. Ad valorem taxes have increased 52 percent since 2006.
While the KDA points out Kentucky is the only state to tax aging barrels, it lauds a new law that allows for a corporate income tax credit recently passed by the legislature that mandates some of the money be put back into local distilleries in the hopes of expanding the industry and its job based in the commonwealth.