Bourbonism: Louisville becoming the Sonoma of the south - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Bourbonism: Louisville becoming the Sonoma of the south

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Louisville hopes to bolster the rural bourbon trail with a booming downtown distillery presence of its own. Louisville hopes to bolster the rural bourbon trail with a booming downtown distillery presence of its own.
Many will use Louisville as a launching point to visit the beauty of the Bourbon Trail and all its history and gorgeous views. Many will use Louisville as a launching point to visit the beauty of the Bourbon Trail and all its history and gorgeous views.
The Evan Williams experience has already opened up near 5th and Main Streets with its own distillery experience. The Evan Williams experience has already opened up near 5th and Main Streets with its own distillery experience.

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Napa and Sonoma could be getting a run for their money when it comes to alcoholic beverage destinations in the United States.

Louisville hopes to bolster the rural bourbon trail with a booming downtown distillery presence of its own.

"It's better than the Napa area because we're so much closer to most of the United States," said Marty Snyder, who teaches distilling at his Moonshine University in Louisville, "because a lot of people, you know, 60 percent of the population is within a day drive."

It's called Bourbonism: the blending of bourbon and tourism efforts.

Brown Forman CEO Paul Varga talked about the bourbon boom at the GLI Dinner, with more than 1,000 Kentuckiana business and community leaders in attendance at the Galt House Hotel.

"Bourbonism and all the growth that's going on," Varga said. "I think it's one of the most exciting things to happen to downtown Louisville in some time."

Everyone seems to be drinking it up.

"When we do surveys, we know that people who don't even drink are very interested in bourbon and its authenticity," explained Rebecca Metheny of the Downtown Development Corporation.

More than 600,000 people visited the Bluegrass for the bourbon experience in 2013, more than 800,000 are expected in 2016. Many will use Louisville as a launching point to visit the beauty of the Bourbon Trail and all its history and gorgeous views; others will drink it all in without ever leaving the city.

"Louisville has a lot of things nobody else can replicate: the culture and the cuisine and with all the great restaurants and hotels and things here," said Eric Gregory of the Kentucky Distillers Association.

The Evan Williams experience has already opened up near 5th and Main Streets with its own distillery experience. Angels Envy and Michters will open in the next two years not far away. Jim Beam is coming to 4th Street, and it seems Brown Forman won't be far behind.

"We're looking at the best way to do it," Varga said. "We want to make it feasible. Our roots go right to Main Street right on the river, where our company started and began its operations."

Two things seem certain about bourbon in Louisville: more people will drive and fly here every year to experience bourbon's roots with exports booming in more countries than ever, and when those visitors get here, they will find a growing number of distilleries in the city catering to their whiskey wishes.

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