LOUISVILLE, KY (WDRB) -- Cheers to Louisville -- it is the latest toast on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.
Main Street, of course, has its iconic giant baseball bat leaning against the Louisville Slugger Museum and Bat Factory. Soon it will be joined by a four-story bourbon bottle inside a building a couple of blocks east of Slugger Museum.
"I am proud to announce that the Kentucky Bourbon Trail is barreling into Louisville," said Rick Robinson, the chairman of the Kentucky Distillers' Association, to a crowd packed into what will soon become the latest tourist attraction on Main Street, the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience.
The attraction is still under construction and will become the eighth stop on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, but the first ever in Louisville.
"I think people are going to use Louisville, if they are not already doing so," Eric Gregory, the president of the distillers' association told WDRB News, "as the start or finish of their Kentucky Bourbon Trail trip, they are going to stay in the city's hotels, eat in its restaurants, and shop in its stores, it is going to be a tremendous economic benefit."
The family-owned Heaven Hill Distillery is spending almost $10 million to change a 120-year-old historic Main Street building into a first class tourist attraction.
It will take visitors back in time with high tech displays, showing the history of bourbon in Louisville.
It will celebrate the legacy of the real Evan Williams, the first commercial distiller in Kentucky and the namesake of Heaven Hill's flagship brand.
"With Evan Williams establishing the first distillery in 1783 just across the street we are within footsteps of where this industry really began," says Max Shapira, the president of Heaven Hill Industries.
Bourbon is booming, has been for several years even through the Great Recession of 2008. During the past two years, Kentucky distillery companies have invested $230 million in new projects.
The bourbon business is growing at a rate not seen since the end of Prohibition in the early 20th century.
We wondered why the Kentucky Bourbon Trail took so long to come to Louisville, the state largest city.
"We have distilleries here in Louisville," explains Gregory, "but it is really hard to covert them overnight for tourists, there are a lot of regulations and things you have to do first."
The Evan Williams Bourbon Experience is still scheduled to open in the fall of this year.
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