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Bourbon’s Popularity Continues to Rise

Sailun Tires

You might have seen the liquor store aisles carry more types of bourbon in recent years, and that’s because the demand for it keeps rising.

The made-in-America drink, that legally has to be comprised of at least 51% corn, and distilled in virgin barrels, is more popular than ever.

In March, the Kentucky Distillers’ Association shared a report that the bourbon industry generated $9 billion in economic impact for the state in 2023, highlighting continued interest not just in buying bourbon but in visiting the distilleries that make it.

Mark Rucker, founder of The Bourbon Life, has insider advice for those planning a visit as well as his professional perspective on what’s ahead. With more than 54,000 Instagram followers and the second-most listened to bourbon podcast globally, Mark is a trusted voice in the whiskey community.

He notes the uptick and popularity in bourbon consumption since the early 2000s resulting from predominantly the rise in cocktail culture.

“People began to become fascinated with authentic cocktails and the move to use dark spirits, like rye and bourbon, really helped fuel that growth in bourbon consumption,” he said. It helped like TV shows such as Mad Men made drinking dark spirits cool again, as more people began exploring bourbon and rye. Social media also made information more accessible, he said, while influencers “share their passion for Bourbon with their fans.”

In the interim, we’ve entered what he’s referred to as the “Golden Age” of bourbon, where distillers and producers are creating “some incredible products that are delicious and worth enjoying.”

He’s seen an explosion of growth in distilleries, as brands are committing hundreds of millions of dollars to not only increase production but to also “create unforgettable experiences for consumers who visit those distilleries.”

He cited high-end restaurants like The Kitchen Table at The James B. Beam Distilling Company, offering specialized dining options for visitors on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Some people, he added, have referred to the movement as the “Napafication” of bourbon. “While that’s a term I’m not necessarily fond of, because Kentucky is uniquely different from Napa, I think it’s a buzzword that defines the overall movement that we’re seeing in the industry, across the board, to make bourbon tourism more than just a visit to a distillery but more of a lifestyle experience.”

For those intending to visit Kentucky and its bourbon distilleries, it’s important to note that sometimes the outdoor temperatures can quite vary from the inside temperatures, and the tour might involve a fair bit of walking, so be forewarned, he said.

“A good distillery tour is one where you can feel relaxed and enjoy learning about that specific distillery and its brands. If you’re constantly concerned about ‘wrapping up’ so you can get to your next tour, you’re never going to truly enjoy the experience,” he noted. “You need to allow yourself to get lost in the moment and take it all in.”


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