Stop Ripping Off The Kentucky Bourbon Trail Trademark


July 2, 2020

Honestly, there are stories I get sick of talking about.

One of them is the fact that the Kentucky Bourbon Trail isn’t just some magical trail that you go on and bourbon angels come from above and pour Pappy down your throat while giving you a back rub. Nope. Sorry. In fact, where Pappy is made–Buffalo Trace–isn’t even on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.

The Kentucky Distillers’ Association owns the Kentucky Bourbon Trail trademark, and only the KDA members on said trail and their respective partners are permitted to use this for commercial purposes. Your blog posts, Insta stories, etc., knock yourself out with the use of the term. But if you’re a commercial enterprise and slap “bourbon trail” on your air conditioning company, get ready for a phone call from the KDA.

The list of people who’ve violated the trademark include non-member distilleries, competing state whiskey trails, construction companies, restaurants, Disney and now some Kentucky minor league baseball teams.

 The Lexington Legends and the Florence Y’Alls announced that after MLB cancelled minor league baseball the two Kentucky teams created the “Battle of the Bourbon Trail.” Both cities will form two teams that will play in front of fans every Wednesday through Sunday starting in Florence on July 31, according to this news report.

But guess what? They did not get their permission to use the trademark.

That said, I only know of one lawsuit the KDA’s taken to court, and that was an ugly one with Sazerac that forced their hand to always protect the Kentucky Bourbon Trail or Bourbon Trail marks. The KDA usually takes a soft approach, and people generally end up working with them and the trail world all works out.

But how hard is it to google, “Is the bourbon trail trademarked?”

It’s not.

Just call the KDA. I’m sure they’d love to talk about something other than Coronavirus.