CVB wants Boyle to jump on bourbon ‘bandwagon’

Published 8:16 am Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Bourbon figures to be a big part of how Boyle County markets itself going forward.

“We’re going to hit it hard on bourbon,” said Jennifer Kirchner, executive director of the local Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Kirchner told CVB board members Monday that the CVB plans to use some of its substantial advertising budget to “create Danville as a bourbon cultural destination.”

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A bourbon travel writer visited this month, and the CVB is helping develop travel packages for people interested in bourbon tourism, she said.

“We’re putting together tour packages of where you would stay, (eat and visit),” she said. “We’re adding an element of adventure tourism and the first thing they asked me is, ‘can visitors rent bikes?’ Yes, we have a bike rental now.”

The bourbon tourism writer works for Bourbon Review and the review is expected to be released in late winter or early spring, Kirchner said later Monday.

The CVB also has an ad in the current official Kentucky Visitors Guide featuring a photo from inside Wilderness Trail Distillery on Lebanon Road. And the CVB has entered into a contract for advertising on the Kentucky Distillers’ Association website, focusing on Danville’s geographic location in the middle of Kentucky’s famous “Bourbon Trail,” Kirchner said.

“They’re rolling out a whole new website in January … their demographic is people are going to their website to plan their trip,” she said. “So all of our advertising is going to be in itineraries and maps … it will visually depict why staying in Danville, you can do this half of the trail and (then) this half of the trail.

“So we’ll get recommendations — ‘stay the night in Danville and then hit Plank for some coffee and breakfast in the morning.'”

Kirchner explained the CVB’s plans for bourbon tourism as part of a larger presentation on all the different methods and formats the CVB currently uses to promote Boyle County. Other ads promote the Great American Brass Band Festival; the Kentucky State BBQ Festival; manufacturer Dana, which recently won a prestigious automotive award; and Perryville Battlefield, among others. The CVB uses print, radio and online ads to reach people more than 60 miles away or in the Lexington market, Kirchner said.

Danville is currently home to one bourbon distillery, Wilderness Trail. It produces several distilled drinks, including vodka and rum; its first bourbon release is expected in early 2018. The distillery is undergoing an approximately $9.9 million expansion that is projected to sextuple its output and add 10 new jobs.

Wilderness Trail Distillery is not one of the 12 locations on the official Kentucky Bourbon Trail, but it is one of 13 listed on the Bourbon Trail’s “Craft Tour.”

Earlier this month, Jody Lassiter, CEO of the local Economic Development Partnership, said there are five prospective business projects — either new businesses looking to locate or existing businesses looking to expand — that the EDP is aware of related to bourbon and bourbon tourism.

Production of bourbon in Kentucky rose from well below 1 million barrels in 2009 to around 2 million barrels in 2015, according to an economic impact study conducted for the Kentucky Distillers’ Association and released early this year. The number of bourbon jobs over the same time period rose from 3,100 to 4,123, while the average annual pay in the industry rose from almost $73,000 to more than $95,000, according to the study.

Demand for bourbon is on the rise globally as well as nationally, and Kentucky has been estimated to produce 95 percent of the world’s bourbon, according to the study.

“Bourbon is one of the things we’re hitting hard,” Kirchner said Monday. “… If we don’t jump on that bandwagon, we’re crazy.”