New law in Kentucky allows mixed drinks at distilleries
In the past, distilleries have only been able to serve tastings of straight bourbon. Now, distilleries can apply for a special license to serve cocktails, too.
CLERMONT, Ky. (WDRB) - The way you can experience bourbon in Kentucky is changing with a new law allowing distilleries to serve mixed drinks.
Distilleries are not just for bourbon making anymore. They appeal to tourists, with gift shops and tours for visitors who are curious to learn more about the history, appeal and flavor of bourbon. Even on a Tuesday at Jim Beam in Claremont, Kentucky, tourists are buzzing around. "Bourbon, Kentucky, what else would we do in Kentucky?!" laughed Martha Gilliam, from New Jersey.
The tours can bring a sense of nostalgia to those who have fond memories surrounding bourbon. "One thing I remembered was my dad always had Jim Beam in the kitchen somewhere," said Teresa Shulz with a smile.
"We have a lot of people that come to Jim Beam that are really new at bourbon, they come to Kentucky to experience the art of bourbon making and a lot of people don't know how to drink it," said Kim Bennett, Sr. Director of Ky Beam Bourbon Experiences.
Shulz remembers how her dad would make it. "He tried really hard to make my mother's old fashioneds, and I think that's how it started," she laughed.
Soon, visitors will be able to try an old fashioned after a tour. "I'd come back again, no that's a good idea I think. I'm really interested in the apple (Jim Beam flavor) because I think that sounds so good with lemonade during the summer," said Shulz.
A new law in Kentucky went into effect this summer. Distilleries can apply for a license allowing them to serve mixed drinks instead of just tastings straight up. "I like variety, so I guess for those that maybe are just trying bourbon, gives them a little more choice to try," said Gilliam.
"That would be great, because I know my daughter just turned 21, she'd probably like that, like a cocktail instead of drinking straight bourbon," said Gus Vassos, visiting from Chicago, Illinois.
Jim Beam's license is pending. The distillery hopes to be serving up cocktails by the end of August. "It does open up people that are novice whiskey drinkers that really don't know that they like bourbon and they can taste it now in a cocktail," said Bennett.
So far, 11 distilleries have applied. Some of the other big names include Maker's Mark and Woodford Reserve. The remaining include MB Roland Distillery Inc., Wilderness Trace Distillery LLC, Dueling Grounds Distillery LLC, Boundary Oak Distillery LLC, New Riff Distilling LLC, Louisville Distilling Company LLC, Crooked Tail Distilling Co. LLC, Stillworks LLC.
Jim Beam is working on its cocktail menu and making a new space to serve them. "I think there's gonna be several different options, we're gonna have a pre prohibition style cocktail, we're going to have a traditional style cocktail, and then have something a little more contemporary," said Bennett.
According to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail website, the trail has seen about 2.5 million visitors in the last five years. This law is expected to bring in more. "Bbourbon hasn't hit its peak yet. Bourbon is exploding," said Bennett. "I think every year all distlieries on the ky bourbon trail see more and more visitors so I think with the passing of this legislation we'll definitely see more visitors come through."
Bennett says state law limits the number and size of tastings, and that Jim Beam will put a limit on the number of cocktails visitors can enjoy, so that tourists can focus on drinking responsibly.
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