Kentucky’s bourbon and spirits industry had a banner year in 2022, with announcements of a record $2.1 billion in new investments. According to the Kentucky Distillers Association (KDA), 2.4 million full bourbon barrels now roll out of distilleries each year. As they say on their website, “We don’t mean to brag — or maybe we do.”

Despite this indisputable bourbon boom, and even with the significant tax giveaways Kentucky already gives the industry, lawmakers last week introduced House Bill 5 to award them with even more tax breaks. The bill is a response to industry claims that property taxes distillers pay on bourbon aging in barrels, known as the barrel tax, makes Kentucky less competitive and hampers industry growth.

Pam Thomas is Senior Fellow at the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy (