In Kentucky, bourbon is more than just big business, it’s part of the culture, influencing everything from the arts to the economy.
Tourists Anna and Michael Kraczyk says their love of bourbon brought them to Bourbon Country. They're just two of the million-plus people expected to visit Kentucky this year, specifically for the bourbon experience. The Kraczyks say they plan on spending a lot of money during their time in the Bluegrass State.
“A couple of thousand,” Anna says. “Yeah, a couple of thousand. It’s a great investment.”
In Kentucky, bourbon production has increased 115 percent since 2009 and has grown to a multi-billion dollar industry.
“When people come to town and visit us, they don’t just visit this location,” says Jeff Crowe of Heaven Hill Distillery. “They have a place to overnight accommodate, or they have to have a place to eat breakfast or diner or have another cocktail with their family in the evening.”
Crowe says this American-made, barrel-aged spirit has created international interest, and believes the bourbon boom will continue to grow.
“I think that explosion is now where near close to the final stages,” he says. “We’re excited about the future.”
Now, there’s a new player in the market trying to cash in with new product.
Kartik Kamat is making gin out of Kentucky-grown corn, mixing the flavors of his Indian heritage with his American upbringing to create Holi Gin.
“I wanted to solve something in the distilled spirit industry,” Kamat says.
Released in September, Holi Gin has been well received, medaling at competitions. Now, the product is available at some of the biggest spirit stores in the country.
“We are our distributor’s fasting-selling gin,” Kamat says. “But it took us a long time to understand that we even had a product to get it over here.”
This product, however, represents something much more than liquor.
It’s the story of an immigrant living the American dream and perhaps putting Kentucky on the map for something more than bourbon.