|New Riff Distillery, located in Newport, Kentucky. FTM file. |
The Kentucky Distillers' Association has announced that New Riff Distillery has met the inventory requirements to advance to “Proof” level membership, the second-highest tier. “Proof” level membership is reserved for established licensed distilleries that maintain an inventory between 10,000 and 25,000 barrels of distilled spirits.
In additional, the KDA announced that Rabbit Hole Distillery, Wilderness Trail Distillery and Willett Distillery have advanced to the rank of “Heritage” members, the highest level in the non-profit group that unites and leads the state’s signature Bourbon and spirits industry.
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To qualify as a Heritage member, distilleries must have at least 25,000 barrels of distilled spirits aging in Kentucky warehouses. As Heritage members, Rabbit Hole, Wilderness Trail and Willett will have an expanded leadership role in the management of the association and the future of the iconic industry.
“This year we are recognizing the growth of four KDA members, a tremendous accomplishment that is rightfully celebrated,” KDA President Eric Gregory said. “In addition to their individual achievements, all four companies actively work for the greater good of the industry and will now expand that leadership role.
“We raise a glass to toast their success and advancement within the KDA ranks and our iconic industry.”
The KDA now has 14 Heritage members, including Bardstown Bourbon Company, Beam Suntory (Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark), Brown-Forman, Diageo North America, Four Roses, Green River Distilling Co., Heaven Hill Brands, Louisville Distilling Company, Lux Row, Michter’s and Wild Turkey.
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Located near downtown Cincinnati across the Ohio River in Newport, New Riff is the creation of Ken Lewis, former president of the Wine and Spirits Guild of America and former owner of The Party Source, one of the country’s largest and most prominent retail package stores.
New Riff, located at 24 Distillery Way, offers free on-site tours and educational programs, as well as an event center and rooftop garden for meetings and private gatherings. A main architectural attraction is the gleaming all-copper, 60-foot column still encased in glass.
New Riff joined the KDA in 2014. The distillery joins Alltech’s Town Branch Distillery in Lexington as the KDA’s two Proof level members.
“Kentucky Bourbon is the ‘gold standard’ of American whiskey, sought after around the world,” said New Riff Founder and CEO Ken Lewis. “The KDA is also the ‘gold standard’ of associations, working with and protecting Kentucky distilleries large and small.
“I have always been impressed by the forward-thinking staff and the non-competitive mentoring of the more established and larger distilleries to young distilleries who are now growing up and joining their ranks in making world-class whiskey that has put Kentucky on the world map – not just for great whiskey but for the tourism industry as well.”
Kentucky Bourbon is one of the Commonwealth’s most historic and treasured industries, a booming $8.6 billion economic engine that generates more than 20,100 jobs with an annual payroll topping $1 billion million each year.
In addition, the industry is in the middle of a $2.3 billion building boom, from innovative new tourism centers to expanded production facilities, all to meet the growing global thirst for Kentucky Bourbon.
There are now nearly 10 million barrels of Bourbon and other spirits aging in Kentucky warehouses, the highest number in the modern era of American Whiskey. Of that, 9.3 million are just Bourbon, the first time since 1967 that the number of Bourbon barrels topped nine million.
Bourbon production has skyrocketed more than 360 percent since the turn of the century, with Kentucky distillers filling 2.1 million barrels in 2019, the second year in a row that Kentucky distillers have filled two million barrels, the first time that’s happened in the modern era.
Attendance at the KDA’s Kentucky Bourbon Trail® and Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour® distilleries has skyrocketed more than 300 percent in the last 10 years. Total attendance last year was nearly 2 million, the highest number since KDA founded the KBT® tour in 1999.