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Kentucky Green Lights Direct-to-Consumer Bourbon Shipping

Going on vacation is supposed to be a time to relax and indulge after working your ass off for weeks on end with no respite from the 9-5. If you’re a whiskey lover living in the U.S., vacation might mean packing up and heading to bourbon country. Not only are cities like Lexington and Louisville (which was one of our Manual Awards 2018 picks) hot beds for good food and better times, but you have the chance to head to the source and see how your favorite bourbons are made.

This is where vacation might get a little less enjoyable. Yes, tasting at the distillery is wonderful, but what about you forward-thinking folks that want to take bourbon home with you? If you drove, you’re golden. You can just find some space and pack it in the car (Junior didn’t really need that third stuff animal anymore, did he?) But what about those that are flying? You can only take so many bottles with you, which forces you into a “pick your favorite child scenario.” Do you go with the limited release from Distillery A or do you hold out to see if Distillery C has that once-per-year special edition? Decisions, decisions.

Now, thanks to the Kentucky Distillers’ Association, the decision is likely to get easier. Recently, the Kentucky General Assembly passed House Bill 400 (nicknamed the “Bourbon Without Borders Bill”), which allows for the shipment of distilled spirits to other states.

“House Bill 400 is a bold, historic step in modernizing our signature bourbon and distilled spirits industry. The number one question from nourbon tourists is, ‘Why can’t I ship my bottles home?’ Now, with the passage of HB 400, they can very soon,” said Eric Gregory, president of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association.

“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,” he added.

If you visit a distillery, you will be allowed to ship up to six 750 ml bottles (4.5 L) per day. You’ll also be allowed to sign up for a “bourbon of the month” type club, if offered by the distillery (which would total 12 bottles over the course of the year, shipped according to the distilleries individual programs.)

Kentucky wineries are impacted by this law, too, as visitors would now be able to ship up to four cases of wine per day or join wine clubs that would send up to twelve cases per year.

Before everyone gets excited, though, there is a caveat. If passed (the governor still needs to sign off on the bill), Kentucky will still only be able to ship to Washington, D.C. and six other states: Arizona, Hawaii, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, and Rhode Island, which are all places that have similar laws enacted.

According to Gregory, it’s only a “matter of time” until other states will follow in Kentucky’s steps, allowing for an even greater range of reciprocity. (We’re with you on that one, sir.)

As for the Governor’s signature on House Bill 400, it seems like this one should be in the bag. When you consider Kentucky produces 95-percent of the world’s bourbon why wouldn’t he sign?

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Sam Slaughter
Sam Slaughter was the Food and Drink Editor for The Manual. Born and raised in New Jersey, he’s called the South home for…
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