Coronavirus slows bourbon tourism in Kentucky


FILE – This Oct. 3, 2012 file photo shows the Jim Beam visitors center at its central distillery in Clermont, Ky. Kentucky’s whiskey industry is always looking for the newest twist to its spirits products, but its inventiveness took a gooey turn when the coronavirus pandemic hit. Jim Beam, the world’s largest bourbon producer, is making sanitizer at its Global Innovation Center at its Clermont operation. It fills about 1,500 1.75-liter bottles of sanitizer each production day, said Eric Schuetzler, the spirits company’s vice president of global innovation. (AP Photo/Bruce Schreiner, File)

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Bourbon tourism in Kentucky has slowed to a trickle because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Kentucky Distillers’ Association said Tuesday that visitors took a total of 587,307 tours last year at distilleries along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail and Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour. That’s down 66% from 2019, when stops topped 1.7 million.

The association says that until the pandemic hit, total attendance had never dropped in the tour’s 21-year history.

Distillery tours in the Bluegrass State closed under government orders from March through June. Several distilleries are still closed for tours, while others reopened with sharply reduced capacities.

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