LOUISVILLE, Ky (WDRB) -- It is the first-ever study on the economic impact Kentucky's bourbon industry is having on Louisville's economy, as the bourbon boom continues across the state.
A University of Louisville study released on Friday says Jefferson County is one of the biggest winners in the bourbon renaissance. "We are proud to say that the Kentucky Bourbon Industry is on fire, but in a good way, especially here in Louisville," says Eric Gregory, the Executive Director of the Kentucky Distillers' Association.
He spoke at a news conference at Brown-Forman announcing the results of the study.
It says the bourbon industry provides 4,200 jobs in Jefferson County, $32 million in tax revenue, and $50 million in capital projects during 2012.
"We are not just talking about distilling, we are also talking about the tourism industry, hospitality, bottling, and transportation," says the author of the study, Janet Kelly, the executive director of U of L's Urban Studies Institute."
During the past two years Kentucky distilleries have invested $300 million in upgrading their operations with improved bottling lines and upgraded and larger visitors centers. The numbers are impressive, but the industry says changes are needed in Kentucky's tax code for even more growth in bourbon sales.
Explains Gregory, "There are seven different taxes on every bottle of spirits. Sixty percent of every bottle goes to taxes, the one tax we really think is unfair is the barrel tax."
The barrel tax is assessed every year on the aging barrels in warehouses. Gregory says it is the only such tax in the world and is not assessed on any other alcoholic beverage like beer or wine. "We have talked with a lot of craft distillers that would love to come to Kentucky." says Gregory. "They are waiting on us to see what we are going to do with the tax structure."
The bourbon lobby will once again try to convince state lawmakers to make changes when the legislature meets in January of 2014.
Meantime, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer says the growth in the bourbon industry has been extraordinary. "We want to grow thousands of more jobs," says the mayor.
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