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Bourbon by mail: Bill would make it possible

Sen. John Schickel, R-Union
Sen. John Schickel, R-Union

FRANKFORT, Ky. (April 3, 2018) – A measure that would allow direct shipment of alcoholic beverages received final passage today in the state Senate and is on its way to the governor to be signed into law.

The measure, known as House Bill 400, is an economic development and tourism bill, said Sen. John Schickel, R-Union, who presented the measure in the Senate today.

“As our Kentucky bourbon industry experience continues to grow and become more of a Napa Valley-type experience with more than 1.2 million visitors last year alone, the No. 1 question asked by visitors that come to our commonwealth is why can’t they have these items shipped directly home?” he said.

HB 400 would address this by allowing visitors at bourbon distilleries to ship limited amounts of spirits home as well as join bourbon of the month clubs, Schickel said. HB 400 would also permit vineyards to ship specific amounts of wine out of state.

Another provision would allow liquor stores to ship a limited amount of spirits purchased from their shops. In addition, it would also require the shippers of the spirits to verify the delivery is made to someone at least 21 years old living in a “wet” area.

“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, sponsored by Rep. Chad McCoy, R-Bardstown, passed the Senate on a 33-5 vote.

HB 400 contains an emergency clause, meaning it would become law upon the governor’s signature.

Eric Gregory, president of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association, released the following statement:

“House Bill 400 is a bold, historic step in modernizing our signature bourbon and distilled spirits industry. 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.

“More than 1.2 million stops were made at Kentucky Bourbon Trail and Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour distilleries last year, with 70 percent coming from outside Kentucky. More than 85 percent purchased a souvenir bottle during their trip.

“With the ability to ship bottles home, we’re confident that number will increase with visitors purchasing more bottles, which will boost tourism and add valuable tax dollars to local and state coffers. It’s a win-win for bourbon and our beloved commonwealth.

“It’s only a matter of time before more and more states allow reciprocity with Kentucky and embrace the shipping of spirits, just like they have wine.

“Bourbon brings people together, and HB 400 has been a bipartisan effort with passage by historic margins for an alcohol bill. We’d like to specifically thank Rep. Chad McCoy, the primary sponsor, and Sen. John Schickel, the Senate sponsor, for their tremendous work and leadership.

“We’d also like to applaud Republican and Democratic leadership in both chambers, our partners at the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, Greater Louisville, Inc., CommerceLex, the Kentucky League of Cities, and most of all, our 39 member distilleries who are working in unison to promote, protect and elevate our timeless craft.”

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