That said, Kentucky still produces the overwhelming majority of bourbon distilled. This infographic from the Kentucky Distillers Association shows just how much bourbon has boomed from 2009 to 2019. I’m sure it would be even more if not for the pandemic.Bourbon-Boom-Chart-2009-2019
While many bars and restaurants were suffering from COVID-19 restrictions in 2020, sales of bourbon (plus rye and Tennessee whiskey) generated $4.3 billion in gross revenue on sales of 28.4 million 9-liter cases. Manoj Uppal of Barrett Liquors in Louisville, KY said his sales were up 15% last year.
Each spring day resembled a weekend, and the rush at times left him without some brands, he said. But customers unable to find their favorite spirits didn’t leave empty handed. “They ended up buying something else,” he said.
To get an idea of the growth in offerings since January 1, 2020, I checked the label approvals by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. There were 1,457 labels approved for straight bourbon meaning it was aged for at least two years in a new, charred oak barrel and was not blended with neutral spirits. In addition, another 19 labels were approved for bottled in bond bourbon. The latter is one of my favorites as it is at least four years old, 100 proof, from a single distillery, and distilled in one distilling season.
Bernie Lubbers, the Whiskey Professor, explains why he is such an advocate of bottled in bond bourbon.