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KY Bourbon Trail attendance plummets during pandemic

FRANKFORT, Ky. – For the first time in its 21-year history, total attendance at Kentucky Bourbon Trail® distilleries fell sharply in 2020 amidst the global pandemic that has pummeled the state tourism and hospitality industries, the Kentucky Distillers’ Association announced today.

Visitors took a total of 587,307 tours at Kentucky Bourbon Trail® and Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour® distilleries last year, compared to a record 1,719,821 million stops in 2019 – a staggering 66 percent decrease. Distillery tours, gift shops, bars, and restaurants closed under government orders from March through June.

HB 415 – This legislation, sponsored by Rep. Adam Koenig, updates last year’s historic direct-to-consumer bill that is now a national model for Bourbon and spirits shipping. The bill will allow the use of third-party fulfillment centers to process orders and let Kentucky distilleries collect and remit wholesale and excise taxes on souvenir bottles purchased in their visitor centers. Streamlining these tax collections will provide parity with microbreweries that obtained this option in 2018. HB 415 is awaiting a vote on the House floor.

SB 67 – sponsored by Sen. John Schickel, this bill will make permanent “take-home cocktails” that have proven popular during the pandemic as restaurants struggle to stay afloat. Currently, this legislation would only allow restaurants to offer take-home cocktails, yet several hospitality and tourism groups are advocating the inclusion of bars, wineries, breweries, and distillers. This bill is awaiting a vote on the Senate floor.

SB 108 – This measure would allow restaurants and hotels with a by-the-drink alcohol license to sell increasingly popular private barrel selection bottles to consumers. The KDA and others have asked sponsor Sen. Paul Hornback to also allow distillery visitor centers to sell these unique brand expressions, providing parity with beer, wine, and other retail licensees. SB 108 is awaiting action in the Senate Licensing & Occupations Committee.

The KDA’s Kentucky Bourbon Trail® and Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour® experiences are an integral part of local and state tourism efforts. The KDA, a non-profit trade group, founded the world-famous attractions in 1999 and 2012, respectively.