Adam Johnson, Mayor Greg Fisher, Wes Henderson and Eric Gregory celebrated the addition of Angel's Envy Distillery to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. | Photo by Steve Coomes

Remember that Kentucky Bourbon Trail passport you filled out with stamps from nine legacy distilleries? It’s out of date as of this morning, when the Kentucky Distillers Association welcomed Angel’s Envy as the newest member of the Trail, bringing the total to 10.

The good news is, if you’re a Louisvillian, you’ll not have to travel far to get that new stamp. The stunning new distillery opened in downtown last year at 500 E. Main Street, across the road from Slugger Field. (Check out our story on the unveiling here.) In fact, there are more KBT stops within the city limits than any single point on the Trail.

In touting Louisville’s contributions to and benefits from the bourbon boom, Mayor Greg Fisher said, Louisville is amid an overall renaissance, “and the Bourbon Trail is a big part of that.” He pointed to the 23 hotels under construction and a skyline now notched with construction cranes. “You can see it, hear it and feel it happening.”

Wes Henderson, cofounder and chief innovation officer, Angel's Envy. | Photo by Steve Coomes
Wes Henderson, cofounder and chief innovation officer, Angel’s Envy. | Photo by Steve Coomes

He also delivered some shots at himself for using the word, “Bourbonism,” a term he created to describe the liquor industry’s positive and statewide impact.

“I’m told that people say they take a drink every time I say ‘Bourbonism,’” he joked.

(That the term is joked about is true, and a drinking game has been discussed among the press corps, but never played … because no one gets a whiskey sample until the speeches end.)

“Bourbonism inspires innovation,” he added, mentioning its specific impact on the restaurant scene. “On one side of downtown, they’re making moonshine concoctions (Kentucky Peerless Distilling), and on the other end, they’re making brandy (Copper & Kings). In between, they’re aging whiskey right here.”

KDA president Eric Gregory said Angel’s Envy is evidence of the $1.2 billion-dollar bourbon-related building boom underway in Kentucky. The industry itself generates an $800 million payroll and is responsible for $8.5 billion of the Commonwealth’s economic revenue.

Seemingly still a bit surprised his distillery is really open, Wes Henderson, Angel’s Envy cofounder and chief innovation officer, recalled the four-year struggle and expenses that mounted to an over-budget cost of $27 million. After multiple delays and construction challenges, he simply told people who asked when it would open, “In 90 days. It was always 90 days. … But finally, we’re here.”

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Steve Coomes is a restaurant veteran turned award-winning food, spirits and travel writer. In his 25-year career, he has edited and written for multiple national trade and consumer publications including Nation’s Restaurant News and Southern Living. He is a feature writer for Edible Louisville & The Bluegrass, Whisky Magazine, WhiskeyWash.com and The Bourbon Review. The author of two books, “Country Ham: A Southern Tradition of Hogs, Salt & Smoke,” and the “Home Distiller’s Guide to Spirits,” he also serves as a ghostwriter for multiple clients.

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