Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 3.44.35 PMNeed more evidence of the bourbon boom in full blossom?

Kentucky exported a record $397.9 million in spirits in 2014 — the vast majority of the whiskey variety — putting the state second for spirits exports in the United States, behind only Tennessee. It marks a 72.6 percent increase since 2010.

The data was compiled by the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, which includes bourbons as part of the whiskies category. In 2014, Kentucky exported $301.1 million worth of whiskey — its second-best tally ever. The record for whiskey exports came in 2012, at $314.6 million.

Still, from 2010-2014, Kentucky’s whiskey exports rose 56.7 percent.

The Commonwealth was the second-largest exporter of whiskies in the U.S. behind Tennessee, which exported $712 million in 2014. Total U.S. whiskey exports were $1.3 billion in 2014, also a record.

The top destinations for Kentucky whiskies globally were, in order:

  1. Australia, at $63.1 million — up 23 percent in five years
  2. Spain, at $49.9 million — up 4,532 percent
  3. Japan, at $44.9 million — up 97 percent
  4. Canada, at $23.2 million — up 73 percent
  5. Germany, at $19 million — down 60 percent

Perhaps the biggest surprise is how well Kentucky did in most major spirits categories, not just whiskies/bourbon. In fact, non-whiskies are growing, as a category, far faster for exports than whiskies, as this chart from the cabinet shows:

Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 3.29.52 PMKentucky is tops in the U.S. for exports of liqueurs and cordials, at $42.8 million in 2014, up 194 percent since 2010. Also, Kentucky exported $26.8 million worth of grape brandy in 2014, up a noteworthy 413.8 percent since 2014. This made Kentucky the third-largest state exporter of grape brandy in the U.S.

And just in time for another Kentucky snowstorm comes vodka. Kentucky exported $6.6 million worth of the clear liquor in 2014, fifth-best in the U.S. and up 334.2 percent since 2010.

David Serchuk is a staff writer at Insider Louisville. He is a former editor at, and an ex-reporter at Forbes magazine. He's written for NPR,, New York, Pittsburgh, Louisville and other publications named for places. He enjoys writing about business, music and other things as well.


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