House Bill 400: Bourbon without borders

Governor signs new law to ship Kentucky Bourbon across state borders

Since Friday it’s official: On June 1, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin signed a law allowing visitors to send home bottles from distilleries. Kentucky, the state that produces 95% of the world's bourbon whiskey, is now in the Direct to Consumer shipping business and the new law represents a bold step towards modernizing Kentucky's archaic prohibition-era alcohol policies.

Over 100 elected officials and dignitaries from the state’s legendary distilling and tourism industries witnessed the signing of the new House Bill 400 legislation, commonly referred to as "Bourbon without Borders" at the ceremony held at the new Kentucky Bourbon Trail Welcome Center™ at the Frazier History Museum along Louisville’s famed Whiskey Row. For Eric Gregory, president of the Kentucky Distillers' Association (KDA), who campaigned for the law to be passed, this is a milestone in the history of American craftsmanship. More than 70% of distillery visitors come from outside Kentucky, and 86% purchase a bottle as a souvenir during their trip. "Ever since the KDA created the Kentucky Bourbon Trail tour, visitors have demanded the right to ship bottles home and to friends around the world."

The devil is in the details

The new law allows visitors to ship up to 4.5 litres of spirits which is six 750 ml bottles and four cases of wine per person when they visit a distillery or winery in Kentucky. Guests can also register for the "Bourbon or Wine Club of the Month" and receive unique shipments of products from Kentucky throughout the year. However, it should be noted that bottles can only be shipped if the respective destination state permits the transport of alcohol by law. Currently, 44 U.S. states allow wine shipments, while only eight states – including Kentucky – plus the District of Columbia allow direct shipment of spirits.

Tourism and tax

Those responsible are confident that the new law will help to eliminate bureaucracy and modernize one of the country's signature industries. It will also boost tourism if visitors can take a little piece of Kentucky home with them when they leave. Last but not least, the local and state coffers are filled with valuable taxpayers' money. "It’s only a matter of time before more states allow reciprocity with Kentucky and embrace the shipping of spirits, just like they have wine", Gregory said.

According to the KDA, Kentucky Bourbon is a booming $8.5 billion economic industry that generates up to 17,500 jobs and pours $825 million into tax coffers each year.