Kentucky’s Bourbon Trail is a great experience. Visitors have the opportunity to sample amazing American whiskies right at the distilleries. The only flaw is that you can’t buy a bottle and ship it home. Fortunately, a new piece of legislation is on the verge of changing the laws about shipping Kentucky Bourbon.
On Tuesday (4.04), House Bill 400 passed the Kentucky state Senate and is now headed to Governor Matt Bevin’s desk for a signature. The bipartisan legislation will allow visitors to the Bourbon Trail to ship home bottles purchased at the distilleries, as well as legalize the creation of Napa-style “Bourbon clubs.”
“House Bill 400 is another important step on removing artificial barriers to free enterprise,” said Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown. “It is another step in unraveling the overly obtrusive post-Prohibition alcohol laws that have been in place in Kentucky for over a half-century.”
The bill was classified as an economic development and tourism measure. Likewise, it was classified as an “emergency measure” which means that the new laws will kick in immediately after Bevin’s (expected) signature.
The industry was kick to applause the measure. “House Bill 400 is a bold, historic step in modernizing our signature bourbon and distilled spirits industry,” said Eric Gregory, President of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association in a statement. “The number one question from bourbon tourists is, ‘Why can’t I ship my bottles home?’ Now, with the passage of HB 400, they can very soon.”
Of course, there are still plenty of logistics to work through. A likely model is California which spent years sorting out the rules around shipping wine followed by extended negotiations between the vineyards and major shippers. As a result, UPS currently ships wine, but not beer or hard liquor (like Bourbon).
“UPS supports HB400, which improves the free flow of commerce, and benefits the citizens of the Commonwealth and one of its signature products. We are still looking at the potential impact of the legislation, as the laws for shipment of alcoholic beverages are complex and vary widely by state,” declared UPS spokesperson Jim Mayer in a statement. “It’s important to note that: Currently, UPS ships alcoholic beverages on a contract basis only. For shipments containing bourbon or other liquor, shippers must have a contract with UPS, be licensed and authorized under applicable law to ship alcohol, and may ship only to licensed consignees in selected states.”
So, it’s a rocky
path trail ahead, but the way has been cleared. The only catch: There’s a bottle limit; the secondary markets were definitely a factor in wording this legislation.