Kentucky Bill to Protect Barrel Picks Heads to Senate
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Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Picks are in Jeopardy, But a Bill to Protect Them Has Been Introduced

Barrel Picks

Heaven Hill barrels from a barrel-picking experience by Whiskey Raiders’ Jay West, aka t8ke, are pictured. Jay selected the middle barrel. Kentucky bourbon barrel picks may soon be protected by law. (Photo: Jay West)

Barrel picks, a process in which a bar or retailer purchases all of the bottles from a single cask, which usually has been selected by someone well-known in the whiskey world or beyond, may soon be legally protected if a new piece of Kentucky legislation passes. The bill is headed to the Senate floor, according to the Lexington Herald Leader.

the new legislation was necessary because — according to State Sen. John Schickel, who proposed the bill — alcohol regulators have determined barrel selections don’t meet existing regulations under Gov. Andy Beshear’s administration.

The bill, SB160, would amend Kentucky Revised Statute 241.010 to redefine “consumer” and define “private selection event” and “private selection package; amend Kentucky Revised Statute 243.027 to authorize manufacturers to ship samples to persons or entities engaged in private selection events; amend Kentucky Revised Statute 243.0305 to allow distillers to conduct private selection events and sell private selection packages at retail; amend Kentucky Revised statute 243.884 to exempt most private selection package sales from wholesale tax; and amend Kentucky Revised Statute 244.240 to exclude distillers selling private selection packages from the interlocking interests prohibition.

The Senate Licensing and Occupations Committee, which Schickel chairs, unanimously passed the bill Tuesday morning.

As part of the process, individual groups and people often come to distilleries and sample barrels before picking one to bottle their own unique version of a particular brand. Our own Jay West, aka t8ke, for example, picks more than 100 barrels a year. Other prominent figures who have barrel-picking programs include The Bourbon Enthusiast, BourbonFinds and the Bourbon Pursuit podcast.

This bill would allow entities such as those to continue operating their barrel-pick programs.

Barrel picks have become increasingly popular over the past decade.

“Barrel picks are the backbone and the future of the bourbon industry,” said Chris Nolan of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association, according to the Herald Leader.

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