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:
- Australia, at $63.1 million — up 23 percent in five years
- Spain, at $49.9 million — up 4,532 percent
- Japan, at $44.9 million — up 97 percent
- Canada, at $23.2 million — up 73 percent
- 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:
Kentucky 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.