Kentucky is a Spirits Industry Leader

Posted 2023-10-16T18:07:48+00:00October 16th, 2023 by Bill Adams

Kentucky produces the majority of the world’s bourbon. Many people know that fact. In addition to the Commonwealth’s most popular spirit, the state also produces numerous other types of spirits. But, it isn’t always clear how the state’s output compares to the rest of the country. Even with bourbon as the clear majority of production, Kentucky is a spirits industry leader.

Kentucky Spirits Data

The primary data sources are and Population numbers come from All data came from 2023 sources.

According to Distilled Spirits Council of the United States data, Kentucky has over 35,000 spirits-supported jobs. Furthermore, Kentucky creates nearly $14 million in spirits-based state economic activity. For a state with approximately 4.5 million residents, the Commonwealth is a stellar spirits industry performer.

Kentucky Spirits at a Glance

The following infographic shows elements of important industry data related to how Kentucky is a spirits industry leader. Of course bourbon is the star of the show, as Kentucky produces 95% of the world’s output. In fact, there are more barrels of bourbon stored in Kentucky rickhouses than there are people in the state.

But after the obvious bourbon stats, we should examine the state’s total spirit economic output. For example, the percentage of Kentuckians who are involved in spirits jobs is 0.78%, which is a number only bested by Delaware. The Commonwealth’s percentage of national economic activity is 9.58%, which is only surpassed by California. Despite Kentucky’s population rank of 26 among all US states, the Commonwealth outperforms nearly every other state in relation to the spirits industry.

Infographic showing how Kentucky ranks in national spirits output


California, New York, and Texas are states with very large populations relative to some other states, so they lead in total number of spirits supported jobs. But Kentucky’s per-capita output exceeds the latter two. Plus, it only falls under California’s rankings in a single case when using the data in the infographic. Again, Kentucky is a spirits industry leader.

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Please feel free to contact me. If you have a useful question or comment, I’ll add it here with my thoughts as appropriate, though I will never post your name or email address.

Bill Adams
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Disclaimer: This article relates to the business of spirits and Kentucky’s involvement in it and, as such, is not a promotion for the consumption of alcoholic beverages. If you decide to drink alcohol, please do so responsibly.

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