The Voice

of Kentucky Bourbon & Distilled Spirits
Advancing Bourbon Through Advocacy & Action
The Kentucky Distillers’ Association is the first and only organization in the Commonwealth to advocate for Kentucky Bourbon and distilled spirits at local, state, federal and international levels.

Working alongside our member distilleries and partners, we support sound public policies, strong partnerships and responsible initiatives to drive modernization and meaningful change.
Protect

We work tirelessly to protect the trade interests of our distillers, advocating for improved legislation surrounding the production, sales and distribution of our state’s signature spirits.

Take Action

We closely monitor the laws, policies and regulations that impact our members, taking swift and sound action when issues arise.

Grow

We build awareness and understanding of our distillers’ contributions to the economy, the environment and communities throughout the Commonwealth.

From Grain To Grassroots Movement
Distillers, makers, suppliers, mixologists, bartenders, businesses and consumers: we all play a part in the future of Kentucky Bourbon.

Help keep America’s only native spirit alive by joining our collaborative efforts to promote, protect and grow our iconic industry.
Be an Advocate For Kentucky Bourbon
Our distillers have perfected the art, the science and the craft of making the world’s best spirits. But they can’t do it without your support. By engaging with your elected officials and policymakers, you can help ensure that Kentucky always remains the one, true, authentic home of Bourbon.

Check here for policy issues of importance.
KDA Bourbon Trail PAC Logo
KDA Bourbon Trail® Pac
Without our advocates in public office, Kentucky Bourbon would not be the $8.6 billion signature industry it is today. It’s only through partnerships with elected officials that our distilleries, and the communities they build, can continue to grow.

The KDA Bourbon Trail® PAC is a bipartisan effort that brings together candidates, political parties and caucuses on both sides for the greater good of Bourbon, and all that it means to the people of Kentucky.
2022 Priority Issues

Private Barrel Selections: Meeting Consumer Demand

Picking your own private barrel of a favorite brand is an exciting and popular experience, but the logistics are mired in a flawed and inefficient regulatory process. Both consumers and retailers will tell you that private barrel selections are a vital part of the future of distilling. With an all-time record of 10+ million barrels gently aging in Kentucky rickhouses, there’s more opportunity than ever before to meet (and exceed) consumer demand for America’s native spirit.

Our goals are to:

  • Establish a sound regulatory framework for private barrel selection events at distilleries
  • Give consumers the option to purchase private barrel selection bottles from the distillery
  • Let Master Distillers craft their own private barrel selections and sell them at distillery gift shops
Parity: Leveling the Playing Field with Beer and Wine

While the legislature has made great strides in the last few years at leveling the playing field among alcohol producers, Kentucky breweries and wineries still have more privileges than our legendary distilleries are afforded. 

We are seeking parity with beer and wine that would allow distillers to:

  • Sell bottles at local fairs, festivals and farmer’s markets, which will increases the visibility of our craft distillery brands
  • Operate off-site tasting rooms with retail privileges, enhancing brand awareness and tourism
  • Sell bottles that are only available at distillery gift shops
  • Buy collaborative beer packages directly from micro-brewers
  • Allow the sale of barrel-aged cocktails at restaurants, bars and distilleries 
Tax Reform: Keeping Kentucky Competitive

Distilled spirits is the highest taxed industry in Kentucky by a long shot, and Kentucky is the only place in the world that taxes aging barrels of spirits each and every year. This discriminatory barrel tax puts Kentucky at a competitive disadvantage as we compete with other states and countries to attract distilleries, jobs, tourism and vital economic investment.

Building on on the Bourbon Barrel Tax Credit passed in 2014 via HB 445, we aim to:

  • Make the Bourbon barrel tax credit refundable so distillers can fully realize this incentive
  • Streamline Kentucky alcohol taxes on canned cocktails
Free & Fair Trade

In 2020 alone, tariffs imposed on U.S. spirits as a result of unrelated trade disputes slashed exports of Kentucky Bourbon by 35%, with shipments to the European Union tumbling by nearly 50%. The non-stop trade wars have had a devastating impact on Kentucky distillers, consumers, farm families, cooperages and suppliers, bringing a slew of unintended consequences to our communities and industry at large.

The KDA is urging President Biden and his administration to work with their counterparts overseas to suspend tariffs and settle these ongoing trade disputes before more long-term damage is done.

Recent Legislative Success
The Kentucky Distillers’ Association is proud of the relationships we’ve built with our local, state and federal officials. In all our dealings with government, we are committed to representing our members and our communities with the utmost integrity.

Here are just a few of the landmark bills passed by the Kentucky General Assembly with the KDA’s full support.
HB 415: Producer-Only Shipping

By streamlining direct-to-consumer (DTC) shipping by alcohol producers, the long-awaited passage of House Bill 415 brings us one step closer to meeting consumers’ growing demand for Kentucky Bourbon.

HB 100: Vintage & Antique Spirits

HB 100 allows consumers to sell rare “vintage” or “antique” spirits produced decades ago to licensed retailers for resale to the public. Kentucky is now hailed as a worldwide leader in this growing market as many bars and liquor stores have created world-class whiskey libraries and offer vintage spirits to visitors making the pilgrimage to the Birthplace of Bourbon.

SB 11: Bourbon Tourism Reforms

SB 11 boldly modernized the KBT® experience by allowing distilleries
to offer more free samples, operate restaurants, serve cocktails by the drink, increase gift shop bottle sales, and allowing distilleries to give free novelty items or production byproducts in gift shops or to charity auctions.

SB 67: Take Home Cocktails

“Take home cocktails” were a lifeline to our restaurant, bar and hospitality partners during the pandemic. The passage of SB 67 makes this option permanent in Kentucky, offering a much needed boost to businesses as they continue to recover.

HB 85: Ignition Interlocks Reforms

The KDA partnered with MADD and many other groups to strengthen and improve ignition interlock laws put in place by HB 60 – a bill that requires DUI offenders to use ignition interlock devices as a way to prevent drunk driving and change habits. 

Legacy of Success

For more than a decade, the KDA has led the way in working with members of the General Assembly to grow and enhance our signature distilling industry. Click below to view all of the KDA’s past legislative success.

100 Proof Award Winners
The KDA created the “100 Proof” award in 2009 to recognize elected officials who demonstrate tremendous care, diligence and initiative in promoting and protecting Kentucky’s signature Bourbon industry.
Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer

2020 Award Recipient
2017 Award Recipient

Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, received the award in 2020 for his bold leadership in championing landmark legislation that will advance Kentucky as a model for spirits shipping around the country and provide parity through other key initiatives that will create jobs and enhance tourism.

Senate Majority Leader Thayer, R-Georgetown, received the award in 2017 for his skilled leadership in passing legislation that gives visitors the ability to ship bottles home, and their staunch defense of key tourism development incentives during tense budget negotiations

Senator John Schickel

2020 Award Recipient
2016 Award Recipient

Sen. John Schickel, R-Union, received the award in 2020 for his bold leadership in championing landmark legislation that will advance Kentucky as a model for spirits shipping around the country and provide parity through other key initiatives that will create jobs and enhance tourism.

Sen. John Schickel, R-Union, received the award in 2016 for passing landmark tourism legislation that authorizes cocktail sales at distilleries.

Senate Democratic Floor Leader Morgan McGarvey

2020 Award Recipient

Senate Minority Floor Leader Morgan McGarvey, D-Louisville, received the award in 2020 for his bold leadership in championing landmark legislation that will advance Kentucky as a model for spirits shipping around the country and provide parity through other key initiatives that will create jobs and enhance tourism.

House Majority Whip Chad McCoy

2020 Award Recipient
2017 Award Recipient

House Majority Whip Chad McCoy, R-Bardstown, received the award in 2020 for his bold leadership in championing landmark legislation that will advance Kentucky as a model for spirits shipping around the country and provide parity through other key initiatives that will create jobs and enhance tourism.

Rep. Chad McCoy, R-Bardstown, received the award in 2017 for his skilled leadership in passing legislation that gives visitors the ability to ship bottles home, and their staunch defense of key tourism development incentives during tense budget negotiations

Representative Adam Koenig

2020 Award Recipient

Rep. Adam Koenig, R-Erlanger, received the award in 2020 for his bold leadership in championing landmark legislation that will advance Kentucky as a model for spirits shipping around the country and provide parity through other key initiatives that will create jobs and enhance tourism.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer

2018 Award Recipient

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer received the award in 2018 for providing leadership in elevating tourism and collaborating with the KDA to develop partnerships with Louisville’s culinary and cosmopolitan endeavors, as well as other Bourbon-related opportunities.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

2018 Award Recipient

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell received the award in 2018 for championing Kentucky Bourbon at the federal level, including passage of the first decrease of the federal tax on spirits in generations.

Representative Linda Belcher

2016 Award Recipient

Rep. Linda Belcher, D-Shepherdsville, received the award in 2016 for passing landmark tourism legislation that authorizes cocktail sales at distilleries.

Representative Dennis Keene

2015 Award Recipient

Rep. Dennis Keene, D-Wilder, received the award in 2015 for his determined six-year effort in passing legislation that requires ignition interlocks for drunken drivers.

Senate President Robert Stivers

2014 Award Recipient

Senate President Robert Stivers, R- Manchester, received the award in 2014 for his bold leadership that led to the passage of several of the KDA’s top priorities, including the Bourbon Barrel Reinvestment Tax Credit.

Governor Steve Beshear

2012 Award Recipient

Gov. Steve Beshear received the award in 2012 for his leadership and global support of the industry.

Representative Susan Westrom

2010 Award Recipient

Rep. Susan Westrom, D-Lexington, received the first “100 Proof Award” for her tireless efforts in the 2010 legislative session to modernize Kentucky’s Bourbon sampling laws.

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