Bourbon is a key spirit in the global market and one that has had tremendous influence in the beverage industry. The surge in demand is attributed to premium cocktails, ready-to-drink (RTD) beverages, and innovative whiskey blends, all of which have played pivotal roles in driving the growth of the global Bourbon category.
Bourbon Boom: Explained
Bourbon has a rich American heritage–it was around before Kentucky became a state in 1792 and long before it was hailed the “bourbon capital of the world.” While the popularity of the renowned spirit has experienced fluctuations since the era of Prohibition, demand is as high as ever in the current Bourbon Boom.
The Bourbon Boom: Contributing Factors
The Bourbon Boom can be attributed to several factors, one of which was Bourbon’s decline in popularity as consumers shifted towards lighter spirits like vodka and gin in the 1980s and 1990s. As a result, distillers began producing smaller batches and single-barrel Bourbon, starting a premiumization trend that boosted its reputation and sparked global interest in American Whiskey.
It led to the emergence of new brands and limited-edition, top-shelf offerings. As American Whiskey developed greater prestige overseas, it led to an increase in Bourbon exports over the years. It wasn’t until the 2000s that the authentically-made spirit began to reclaim its prominence. With the US being one of the top exporters of goods to the EU market, demand and production skyrocketed during 2009-2014.
The Lasting Impact
Experts don’t anticipate the Bourbon Boom slowing down anytime soon. It has influenced domestic markets and extended its reach to international regions, with top export markets such as Japan, Spain, Canada, and Australia. In 2022, EU imports of American Whiskeys were up 20% compared to 2021, while exports to the UK are up nearly 10%, according to DISCUS.
The Boom has had a profound imprint on the entire whisky industry. Kentucky distilleries alone are still investing more than $2.3 billion worth of capital projects to meet the surging demand, as sales for American Whiskey (which includes Bourbon, Moonshine, Corn Whiskey, Tennessee Whiskey, and Rye) reach $5.1 billion as of 2022.
Kentucky vs. Texas Bourbon
This Boom has led to an increase in consumer interest in a variety of new additions to traditional regional whiskey styles, but Kentucky and Texas Bourbon remain the most notable.
Kentucky Bourbon makes up over 95% of all production. While distillers can outsource grain ingredients (primarily corn), the spirit must be distilled and aged for at least two years within the state’s borders. The location and length of duration in oak barrels impart a sweet, smooth taste and distinctive flavor notes of caramel, oak, and vanilla.
Texas Bourbon brings its own unique charm. Texas Bourbon is made from blended grains like corn, rye, and barley. The hotter climate accelerates the maturation process during aging, leading to higher evaporation rates—twice that of Kentucky Bourbon. This environmental factor significantly impacts the alcohol content and contributes a smooth, fruity taste that sets it apart.
Crafting Innovation: New Initiative At Sasma
At Sasma, we’re proud to offer a new initiative, allowing distillers and alcohol brands to acquire high-quality Bourbon spirits of varied ages. This opportunity enables brands to take ownership of the aging process (two years or more) while working closely with us to customize their spirit. The first batches will be ready in 2026.
Explore Our Premium Bourbon
As one of the world’s largest independently owned suppliers of bulk premium alcohol, bulk organic alcohol, and bulk spirits, we are committed to delivering the best. To learn more about our selection of Bourbon and services, contact [email protected].