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Omnibus Alcohol Bill Sails Through State Senate


  The Kentucky Senate has overwhelmingly approved extensive legislation pertaining to the state’s bourbon, beer, and wine industries.  Passage came with little floor debate on Thursday.

The lengthy bill allows for the expanded sale of bourbon in distillery souvenir shops, and also permits microbreweries and small farm wineries to double production. Northern Kentucky Senator John Schickel is the bill’s sponsor.  “And the bourbon industry in Kentucky, members of this chamber, is booming," said Schickel. "They can’t make enough of it.”

Another provision allows a precinct-level option election to authorize the sale of alcoholic beverages at distilleries.  Owensboro Senator Joe Bowen voted against the bill.  Bowen says while he supports the industries, he believes it’s too soon for legislative modifications.  “If you’re gonna step up to the next league, so to speak, you have to play by those rules,” explained Bowen.

Senate President Robert Stivers took to the floor to urge all three industries to consider further expansion into eastern Kentucky.  Stivers called it “a unique opportunity to make eastern Kentucky one of the places that could legitimately have distilleries, microbreweries, small farm wineries, and make us competitive again in giving us hope and opportunity."

Under the bill, microbreweries could double their annual production from 25,000 to 50,000 gallons.  Andrew Bishop with Lexington’s Ethereal Brewing says the current cap can hinder business.  “Tap rooms are our main resource to get experimental beers out to the public, so it’s really kind of an artificial cap,” noted Bishop.

The bill passed the senate on a vote of 29 to 8. It now moves on to the House.

Stu Johnson is a reporter/producer at WEKU in Lexington, Kentucky.
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