More bourbon flows through Kentucky than ever before, bringing $ - WDRB 41 Louisville News

More bourbon flows through Kentucky than ever before, bringing $8.5 billion to the state each year

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The Kentucky Distillers association partnered with the University of Louisville to study the growth of the bourbon industry in Kentucky.

“Bourbon isn’t just a drink in Kentucky. It fuels the state's economy,” said Eric Gregory, President of the Kentucky Distillers Association.

The study shows Kentucky bourbon pours $8.5 billion each year into the state’s economy, provides $825 million in tax revenue, is responsible for a $1.2 billion building boom and generates 17,500 high-paying jobs.

“The average salary and benefit package for someone employed in the bourbon industry is now about $95,000 dollars [per year],” Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin said.

Paul Tomaszewski is a co-founder of MB Roland Distillery outside of Hopkinsville. He has watched his small distillery grow tremendously in recent years.

“We are starting to be more in the tourism trade of the business,” he said.

He says the game changer is Senate Bill 11, which was passed last year allowing distilleries to serve cocktails.

“Now, when someone says ‘How do I drink this?’ We can make them a drink and let them experience that, and they're much more likely to purchase the product,” he said.

Distillers like Tomaszewski say they also support recent reforms to the ad valorem tax, which now gives distillers a tax credit to offset the amount of barrel taxes they pay each year on aging bourbon.  

In the future, Tomaszewski hopes a local law will be repealed that keeps him from opening on Sundays. He also wants to see a tax reform plan that's friendlier to distillery owners, which is something state leaders say is coming.

“We tax bourbon already like we tax nothing else in the state," Gov. Bevin said. "I will say to you all. We have tax reform coming."

“Our pledge in the General Assembly with Senate President Robert Stivers and the governor is to do everything we can as the governor said, even from a tax standpoint to allow you the opportunity and to put you in a position to continue to grow and expand your business, not only in Kentucky, but across this world,” Representative Jeff Hoover said.

Gov. Matt Bevin says he wants to see the industry to continue to expand, not suffocate.

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