Distillers in Kentucky could soon sell drinks by the glass

You can drink by the glass at breweries and wineries in Kentucky but not at distilleries. A bill heading to Kentucky Gov.Matt Bevin’s desk could change that to increase tourism and help local businesses.

Senate Bill 11 would allow you to buy drinks by the glass and to buy more to take home from distilleries like Silent Brigade Distillery.

Owners John Brown and Keith Bundy are preparing the place to open its doors in downtown Paducah, which wasn’t their first choice.

“We were going to start out in the county, and then we heard about this Senate Bill 11 that might go through. So, we started targeting Paducah, so we could get some of the foot traffic,” Brown said.

They’re using a 300 gallon copper pot still to make whiskeys, rums, and bourbon. They’re using heirloom dent corn from Suwanee, Kentucky. They are also making cider from apples and peaches grown in southern Illinois.

Right now, customers can taste a one ounce sample at distilleries. But if Bevin signs the bill into law, they can have 1.75 ounce and mixed drinks.

Brown plans to add his place to the Kentucky bourbon trail, which will hopefully attract more tourists.

“In any business, you want to keep your customers longer. The longer they’re there, the more they’re experiencing, the more they’re spending,” Hammond said.

Paducah Convention Visitors Bureau Executive Director Mary Hammond says the distillery will create the Kentucky bourbon experience in the city.

“The experience here of seeing the activity, of tasting the specialty drinks, and enjoying Broadway,” Hammond said.

Paducah Distilled Spirits, on the other hand, doesn’t plan to sell specialty drinks, but owner Denise Story says the bill will help them sell more.

“Ninety-five percent of my business is tourists,” Story said. People from across the United States and all over the world have visited them in the year they’ve been open.    

“They always want to take a case back home, like you would a case of wine,” Story said.

Story was hoping the proposed measure would allow her to sell several more liters, as it did in its original version. The current version of the bill does not.

The bill would also help out craft breweries like Paducah Beer Werks. The law would allow them to brew up to 50,000 barrels a year. Currently, the cap is 25,000. One of the owners, Todd Bloom, says they’re not ready to brew that much yet, but there are other perks for them in the bill.

“We could use our current brewery license to go to festivals and events, and we don’t have to get a new license for that or temporary license,” Bloom said.

A University of Louisville study shows bourbon trail tourists spend an average of $1,000 during their trip, with more than 85 percent of visitors coming from outside the state.

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