Kentucky Legislature Considers Vintage Spirits Law


February 12, 2017

Who wants bourbon from 1908?

Soon, that dream may become a reality.

The Kentucky legislature introduced legislation that would allow the legal sale of vintage spirits.

The act defines vintage distilled spirit as “a package or packages of distilled spirits that:

“Are in their original manufacturer’s unopened container;

“Are not owned by a distillery; and

“Are not otherwise available for purchase from a licensed wholesaler within

the Commonwealth.”

Licensed retailers and on-premises facilities may sell the vintage spirits by the drink or the package, according to the act. These licensed businesses may purchase “from a non-licensed person upon written notice to the department in accordance with administrative regulations promulgated by the department.”

While this is exciting for vintage whiskey enthusiasts, there’s a long way to go. The state will hold a hearing on the subject Wednesday and bar trade sources tell me wholesalers oppose the acquisition process of vintage spirits.

That is not true, says Dan Meyer with the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers-Kentucky, lobbyist arm of the state’s liquor wholesaler industry. But Meyer does have concerns over the definition, saying it’s too loose.

“There are many tightly allocated products and they’re not available through a wholesaler very quickly. It happens every year,” Meyer says. “Somebody could purchase product, hoard it a couple months and sell it in January for $1,000 a bottle.”

Meyer says he expressed these concerns with the legislature and suggested time clause be added to the law, such as not available at the wholesaler for one year. Overall, he “likes the concept.”

In 2015, the Kentucky Distillers’ Association introduced the notion of a selling vintage whiskey during the bourbon tourism hearings.

According to state meeting minutes, KDA lobbyist Kristen Meadows said the the sale of antique spirits would help the state’s tourism.

If you’d like this legislation to pass, contact a Kentucky representative.