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Kentucky Distillers Cheer Final Passage of Private Barrel Legislation

March 23, 2022

For Immediate Release – March 23, 2022

FRANKFORT, Ky. – The Kentucky Distillers’ Association today applauded the final passage of House Bill 500 that legalizes the popular private barrel selection program and further enhances Bourbon tourism in the Bluegrass State. 

Sponsored by Rep. Chad McCoy, R-Bardstown, HB 500 passed the Senate today by a bipartisan vote and now heads to Gov. Andy Beshear’s desk for consideration. It passed the House earlier this month by an overwhelming 75-17 vote. 

“House Bill 500 is another bold step in modernizing Kentucky’s archaic alcohol laws and elevating Bourbon tourism for consumers, local communities and the Commonwealth,” KDA President Eric Gregory said. 

The industry was under a mandate to legalize the popular private barrel selection process, which the Kentucky Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control had said was lacking clear statutory authority and gave the industry until April 15 to seek a legislative solution. 

Gregory said the deadline motivated all segments of Kentucky’s three-tier system – distillers, wholesalers and retailers – to collaborate and compromise. “We are all interested in growing the Bourbon pie for everyone, especially for consumers and tourists,” he said. 

Gregory expressly commended Rep. McCoy, the bill’s sponsor, and Sen. John Schickel for their leadership. “Both genuinely understand and appreciate the importance that Bourbon plays in Kentucky’s economy and tourism industry,” he said. 

“This bill will continue to transform the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® experience into a major tourism destination like Napa Valley and Sonoma in California,” Gregory said. “We deeply appreciate the support of the Kentucky General Assembly and thank them for their support.” 

As passed, House Bill 500: 

  • Fully authorizes private barrel selection events and requires 70% of private barrels picks to go to retail licensees through the three-tier system, allowing distilleries to sell 30% of barrel picks to private consumers, businesses and non-profit groups. 
  • Allows distillers to sell exclusive bottles on-site at distillery gift shops. This provision will drive repeat visitors to Kentucky distilleries, meeting consumer demands for unique bottles that they can only get in the Commonwealth. 
  • Gives each distillery the opportunity to open a satellite tasting room, which will help bring Bourbon tourism to downtowns and communities that might not be able to attract a full-blown distillery experience.
  • Allows distillers to offer complimentary samples and sell bottles at fairs, festivals and farmer’s markets. Retailers also are allowed to offer free samples and sell bottles of wine and spirits at these same events in the county where they are licensed. 
  • Legalizes sales of barrel-aged and batched cocktails, a common practice that was not specifically authorized in Kentucky law since the alcohol was not poured from its original container. 

Bourbon is one of Kentucky’s most treasured industries, a thriving $9 billion economic and tourism engine that generates more than 22,500 jobs with an annual payroll topping $1.2 billion each year, over $285 million in local and state taxes and $1.8 billion in federal alcohol taxes.

A key export, the iconic industry is currently in the middle of a $5.2 billion building boom, from innovative new tourism experiences to expanded production facilities, bottling centers and aging warehouses, all to meet the growing global thirst for Kentucky Bourbon. 

Bourbon production has skyrocketed more than 435% since the turn of the century. 

Kentucky now boasts more than 10.3 million barrels of Bourbon aging in warehouses across the Bluegrass, the most in its revered distilling history. Distillers filled more than 2.4 million barrels in 2020 alone, the third year in a row that production topped the two million mark.

Attendance at the KDA’s Kentucky Bourbon Trail® and Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour® experiences continue their rapid rebound from COVID and closures, up 160% in total attendance from last year and just down slightly from the pre-pandemic record in 2019. 

Visit www.kybourbon.com and www.kybourbontrail.com to learn more.

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For more information, contact: KDA President Eric Gregory at eric@kybourbon.com.  

Founded in 1880, the Kentucky Distillers’ Association is the historic voice for Kentucky’s signature Bourbon and distilled spirits industry. Its diverse and growing membership produces 90 percent of the world’s Bourbon, from legendary, global brands to emerging micro distilleries that are fostering the next generation of the Commonwealth’s timeless craft and treasured economic engine. Member benefits include media relations, international trade development, private sampling events, technical assistance, economic development support, networking, legal defense, marketing strategies, governmental and regulatory advocacy and innovative tourism experiences through the KDA’s world-famous Kentucky Bourbon Trail® and Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour® adventures. The KDA maintains an open membership policy, champions a strong commitment to the responsible and moderate consumption of spirits, and fights to curb underage drinking and drunk driving. Learn more at www.kybourbon.com and www.kybourbontrail.com. Enjoy Bourbon like a true Kentuckian — Responsibly. 

KENTUCKY BOURBON TRAIL®, KENTUCKY BOURBON TRAIL CRAFT TOUR®, KENTUCKY BOURBON AFFAIR™, KBT®, BOURBON TRAIL™, KENTUCKY BOURBON HALL OF FAME® and BOURBON WITHOUT BORDERS® are trademarks/service marks of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association.  

Enjoy Like a True Kentuckian: Responsibly
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