Bourbon Is Really Popular and Good for the Economy. Does Congress Deserve Some Credit?

The Senate on Thursday passed a resolution commemorating the 50th anniversary of the resolution that regulated and set the standard for bourbon.

National Journal
Matt Vasilogambros
May 15, 2014, 8:10 a.m.

It’s been 50 years since Con­gress passed the De­clar­a­tion of In­de­pend­ence for bour­bon.

That’s what folks in Ken­tucky call Sen­ate Con­cur­rent Res­ol­u­tion 19. It was passed on May 4, 1964, and ac­know­ledged bour­bon as a “dis­tinct­ive product of the U.S,” and also set the stand­ards for bour­bon pro­duc­tion. In the 50 years that have fol­lowed, bour­bon has be­come a whis­key boom­ing in pop­ular­ity, soar­ing in price, and ex­por­ted to over 100 na­tions around the world.

So, nat­ur­ally, Con­gress wants to ac­know­ledge — and get in on — its pop­ular­ity.

On Thursday, the Sen­ate passed a Ken­tucky-sen­at­ors-backed res­ol­u­tion com­mem­or­at­ing the an­niversary. The House has its own res­ol­u­tion do­ing the same.

It’s hard to look past what’s happened to the bour­bon in­dustry in re­cent years. Since 1999, bour­bon pro­duc­tion has in­creased 120 per­cent and now gen­er­ates $2 bil­lion in product and provides 9,000 jobs in Ken­tucky, ac­cord­ing to the House res­ol­u­tion.

This chart from Quartz also shows the stag­ger­ing in­crease in bour­bon ex­ports in re­cent years.

Among the coun­tries the U.S. ex­ports to, over 100 mil­lion liters goes to Ger­many, Aus­tralia, and the United King­dom, ac­cord­ing to Quartz data.

Even loc­al lead­ers ac­know­ledge the sur­pris­ing boost in bour­bon’s pop­ular­ity. “We’ve nev­er had this type of tour­ists in Louis­ville and Ken­tucky be­fore who had a reas­on to come here 365 days a year,” Louis­ville May­or Greg Fisc­her said at a com­mem­or­a­tion event last week.

So, 50 years after the res­ol­u­tion (seen be­low) passed, it looks like the Sen­ate wants to toast it­self for its role in this truly Amer­ic­an spir­it.

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