Gov. Beshear Signs H.B. 500 into Law, Upholding Private Barrel Picks at Kentucky Distilleries


March 30, 2022

Gov. Andy Beshear signed into law a flurry of bills, including H.B. 500, which promotes Kentucky’s signature industry by providing clarity in the practice of selecting private barrels of bourbon at distilleries.

The Kentucky Distillers’ Association last week applauded the final passage of House Bill 500 that legalizes the popular private barrel selection program and further enhances Bourbon tourism in the Bluegrass State before it went to Beshear’s desk. Sponsored by Rep. Chad McCoy, R-Bardstown, HB 500 passed the Senate by a bipartisan vote last week and passed the House earlier this month by an overwhelming 75-17 vote. 

“House Bill 500 is another bold step in modernizing Kentucky’s archaic alcohol laws and elevating Bourbon tourism for consumers, local communities and the Commonwealth,” KDA President Eric Gregory said in a news release last week. 

The industry was under a mandate to legalize the popular private barrel selection process, which the Kentucky Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control had said was lacking clear statutory authority and gave the industry until April 15 to seek a legislative solution. Gregory said the deadline motivated all segments of Kentucky’s three-tier system – distillers, wholesalers and retailers – to collaborate and compromise.

“This bill will continue to transform the Kentucky Bourbon Trail experience into a major tourism destination like Napa Valley and Sonoma in California,” Gregory said. “We deeply appreciate the support of the Kentucky General Assembly and thank them for their support.” 

As passed, House Bill 500: 

  • Fully authorizes private barrel selection events and requires 70% of private barrels picks to go to retail licensees through the three-tier system, allowing distilleries to sell 30% of barrel picks to private consumers, businesses and non-profit groups. 
  • Allows distillers to sell exclusive bottles on-site at distillery gift shops. This provision will drive repeat visitors to Kentucky distilleries, meeting consumer demands for unique bottles that they can only get in the Commonwealth. 
  • Gives each distillery the opportunity to open a satellite tasting room, which will help bring Bourbon tourism to downtowns and communities that might not be able to attract a full-blown distillery experience.
  • Allows distillers to offer complimentary samples and sell bottles at fairs, festivals and farmer’s markets. Retailers also are allowed to offer free samples and sell bottles of wine and spirits at these same events in the county where they are licensed. 
  • Legalizes sales of barrel-aged and batched cocktails, a common practice that was not specifically authorized in Kentucky law since the alcohol was not poured from its original container.