LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The term "Bourbonism" was created to describe that uniquely Kentucky mix of bourbon and tourism. The combination adds up to a very lucrative revenue stream from an $8.5 billion industry.
Louisville plans to take a bigger swig of all the money those bourbon visitors are spending, by claiming the most important part of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.
The Frazier History Museum will build an official Welcome Center aimed at attracting and piquing the interests of bourbon tourists - bourbon lovers who want to connect with their favorite brands.
Established 18 years ago, the Kentucky Bourbon Trail never before had an official starting place.
"By having a place where we can tell people 'start it here,'" Eric Gregory, President of the Kentucky Distillers' Association said, "you can not only have a great time at the Frazier but get a basic kind of primer on what Kentucky Bourbon means to Kentucky."
It's a success story that starts with mash and ends with cash.
The Kentucky Distillers Association counted a million visits to the Bourbon Trail in 2016. Most visitors are from out of state and more than half have an annual income exceeding $100,000.
Between bourbon, hotels, transportation, restaurants and shopping, bourbon tourists can spend approximately $1,200 per person, creating a multimillion
dollar opportunity for the city of Louisville.
Officials are hoping to create a synergy between bourbon attractions and Louisville's expanding convention business.
Bourbon is not seasonal. Attractions can pull visitors in any time of the year.
"25 hotels we have under construction right now, one of the reasons is Bourbonism, obviously a huge payroll here," Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said. "What I'm really excited about is I think we're just in the early stages of this year-round bourbon tourism as well."
And with more distilleries than ever hitting record levels of production, it seems assured new generations of bourbon fans will be planning even more visits
to see the birthplaces of their favorite brands.
The Frazier History Museum plans to have the Welcome Center completed by August 2018. It will include a public park, an interactive exhibit and concierge service helping tourists plan visits to distilleries, restaurants and nightlife.
For more information on the Frazier History Museum, click or tap here.
To learn more about the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, click or tap here.