The Kentucky Hug

Bourbon Experience Marketplace and Booking Platform

Last Funded January 2024


raised from 48 investors


Launched, the first ever Bourbon tourism marketplace on August 1st.
Working with multiple distilleries to create industry specific ticketing system to manage inventory.
Planned mobile app will create first 1-to-1 marketing channel between distilleries and tourists.
CEO has over ten years of experience creating and managing a Bourbon tourism company.

Our Team

The Kentucky Hug-Centralized Ticketing Platform and Marketplace

Lets make small town America more accessible!

SB11's passing in 2016 allowed Kentucky distilleries for the first time to provide alcohol to a tourist on property. The industry was worth 3.1B in annual revenue in 2016 and at the end of 2022 was 9.2B.

With this incredible 220% growth in popularity, coupled with the inadequate off the shelf booking systems filling the gap--it has caused a major marketplace frustration for both the tourist and distillery.

Before Development we interviewed 40 tourists and 7 distilleries ranging from the front line employee to ownership because every voice matters when crafting a solution for this industry. Here are some of the key takeaways:

The main issue with the tourist is that Google is the primary research method used which takes hours.

For the Distillery the issue is their booking systems only capture credit card holder information. This means for a group of 20 people arriving at the distillery they may only have information on one of those visitors.

Keep in mind almost every Kentucky Distillery was operating off of paper reservations in 2016.

Our solution the Kentucky Hug is the first ever centralized platform allowing a tourist to research, plan, and book multiple live ticketed experiences, saving them hours of time in research and thousands of dollars spent.

The Kentucky Hug stands alone as being both affordable to book and easy to use for both the tourist and the distillery. This is our MVP and we are already running circles around every competitor in this market.

Our longer term goal is to provide a new way to book a complete multi-day trip in a single platform and purchase. We aim to make small town America more accessible through smart technology and bringing greater visibility into what is available. Distilleries are where we are starting as alcohol spirits tourism is one of the fastest growing markets and one of the largest drivers of American tourism.

Our name 'The Kentucky Hug' will change to accommodate each state's name as we launch in those new markets.

We rolled out our marketplace here in Kentucky first to prove the model to the industry. When launching in new states we will onboard distilleries to our booking system first then once we have enough partners we will launch a marketplace to make the region more accessible.

Below is a quick video of The Kentucky Hug team at the Vogt Awards Demo-day hosted by the Community Foundation of Louisville at the Kentucky Derby Museum.

Further Reading below and more detail on previous slides.