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Texas distilleries drive tourism growth, contributing $830 million+ to state’s economy

AUSTIN, Texas — Distilleries in Texas are on a bounce back. Like many industries, the distillery industry took a hit during the pandemic, but a new study shows they are on their way up, helping Texas’ tourism economy greatly.

“We really had zero business, until the lockdowns were really lifted,” said Fierce Whiskers co-founder Tim Penney.

COVID made things difficult for almost every industry, including the beverage manufacturing business.

Fierce Whiskers in Austin was just getting started at the onset of the pandemic, which was not at all optimal, but now things are looking up.

“It keeps growing. Texas is becoming more and more of a category in whiskey,” said Penney. “People are coming here; people love Austin – one of the reasons we wanted to do the business here in Austin is it is a destination city.”

A recently released study by Tourism Economics highlights the economic impact tourism Texas’ 188 distillers made.

“Tourism Economics says, in 2022, which is the most recent data available, tourism at distilleries brought in over $830 million statewide to the economy.

“I mean that number is pretty big, but not really,” said Penney. “I mean, if you were to look at Kentucky and how many people fly through there, it’s just another place, another thing to do, you know, it brings so much business here. It’s a great place to be.”

In 2022, the study shows Texas distillery tourism generated a total of $831.7 million in a statewide economy with nearly 2.1 million visits to distilleries, raking in almost $460 million that was spent by visitors on-site and offsite, at local hotels and restaurants, for example.

Standard Proof Whisky Co. co-founder David Masters says the Austin location is the only distillery in the central business district of Austin, situated right on the popular Rainey Street.

“About half of our patrons that come through here are tourists, so they’re staying in hotels in the area, they’re looking for something to do,” he said.

Standard Proof Whisky is also a tasting room and kitchen, where folks stopping in can do more than just buy whiskey, they can take classes and see where the drink they’re holding came from.

“We’re in a new age where people are valuing experiences almost really over anything else, and so people want to see how it’s made; they want to see for themselves,” said Masters.

At Fierce Whiskers, more are also offered there to drive tourism and visitors – a big lawn to hang out at, a tasting room, and tours of the massive distillery are available Wednesday through Sunday.

Source: CBS