Bourbon Tourism in Kentucky Get Boost From Proposed Bill
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Kentucky State Rep. Files Bill to ‘Remove the Barriers That the Bourbon Industry Faces’, Augment Tourism


Barrels of bourbon are seen at the Bardstown Bourbon Company in Bardstown, Kentucky on April 11, 2019. (Photo: ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)

House Majority Whip and Kentucky State Rep. Chad McCoy filed a bill Monday to legalize private barrel selections at distilleries and boost Bourbon tourism by adding new programs to attract repeat visitors and “enhance local communities.”

“Bourbon is more than a cultural icon. It is a proven economic powerhouse for our Commonwealth,” McCoy said. “Even in the midst of a global pandemic, tourists are visiting the Bourbon Trail, consumers are buying special releases, and distilleries are investing in their facilities. The provisions of this measure will help sustain the growth and introduce an additional draw for distilleries.”

HB 500 would create a legal framework for the private barrel selection programs that distilleries have offered for years. The Kentucky Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control recently said that such programs need specific guidance in Kentucky law.

The bill also would allow distilleries to sell exclusive bottles at their gift shops, which Kentucky breweries and wineries already are allowed to do, as well as distilleries in other states and countries.

HB 500 also would let distilleries open a satellite tasting room at other Kentucky locations, which could bring investment, jobs and bourbon tourism opportunities to downtowns and communities across Kentucky, another feature already allowed to Kentucky breweries and wineries.

McCoy said the bill requires retailers and wholesalers to purchase private barrel selection bottles through the three-tier system of alcohol distribution, protecting the integrity of that process.

Under the bill, consumers and non-profits would have the option to purchase private barrel selections directly from distillery gift shops, have them shipped home or sent to an out-of-state retailer through the three-tier system.

“This bill is the next step in our efforts to remove the barriers that the Bourbon industry faces. We’re leveling the playing field and giving consumers and tourists what they want – a unique bourbon experience that they can’t get anywhere else in the world,” McCoy said. “It will also create jobs and generate investment without costing taxpayers a single penny.”

McCoy also said that Kentucky consumers have long sought the opportunity to buy private barrel bottles straight from the distillery instead of having to spend more and wait longer because of regulatory burdens.

Exclusive bottles and satellite tasting rooms are an issue of fairness, McCoy said, since Kentucky breweries and wineries already have those privileges, giving them a competitive advantage.

“Other states like California are already doing these things, and the three-tier system is alive and well,” McCoy said. “I’m proud to sponsor HB 500 and look forward to discussing it with my colleagues as we move forward in the legislative process.”

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