Nelson County judge-executive responds to legislation filed to eliminate barrel tax


Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023 — Nelson County Judge-Executive Tim Hutchins issued a press release Thursday in response to the filing of House Bill 5, the bill filed Wednesday that if enacted, will eliminate the bourbon barrel tax that brings in millions of dollars to local schools, governments and agencies.

The text of Hutchin’s press release follows.


“By the Kentucky Distillery Association’s own admission, 2022 was a record year. Announcements of over $2.1 new investments, 700 new jobs created, and 2.4 million full barrels rolled out, which the trade group calls the highest production rate in modern history.

“The sheer rapid growth of the industry here in Kentucky is definitive evidence that the barrel tax is not an impediment for growth. The number of distilleries in our state has grown from 19 to 95, over the past decade. This is on top of the tax breaks and offerings of local courts.

“This same industry is asking Kentucky for yet another tax break, claiming this tax is causing our Commonwealth to be less competitive. With a record-breaking year on all fronts of the industry, this simply cannot be factual. They are asking to prioritize the bourbon industry at the expense of our school districts, emergency services, disaster relief, and other vital community needs.
For example, our Sheriff’s department would stand to lose $250,000. Sheriff Pineroia said “this bill will be devastating for an office like mine that runs strictly on fees. Losing the commission from a booming industry could mean losing a good amount of staff.”

“Nelson County Schools stand to lose close to $4.8 million in funding while Nelson County Government will lose $ 1.2 million. A list of affected agencies are listed below.

“For the local government’s part, fiscal courts have issued Industrial Revenue Bonds. The distillery properties connected with these IRBs are removed from the tax roll for the life of the bond, with no safety net if the barrel tax is removed.

The new Nelson County Fiscal Court inserted provisions in the last bond issued to protect our county should the tax be rescinded, and it should be noted that the distillery representative in attendance at the Fiscal Court Meeting in the beginning of the month assured the Nelson County Court and citizens that they have no issue making the tax whole. They are here to invest in our county and in our people.

“As a community, is that not what we should strive for? We want to attract industry that wants to enhance our workforce, our education system, our people; and not solely their bottom line, which is making record profits. We as a community deserve this, and not to acquiesce to whatever is requested from the bourbon giants.

“A partnership is not too much to ask, as we provide their labor force, the land to expand, the bourbon trail experience in the most beautiful small towns in America, the road maintenance as their trucks roll, and our emergency services should their distillery or rickhouses catch fire, etc.

“Nelson County is proud of the decades of employees we have provided this industry, and our citizens appreciate the industry choosing us! Neither are the enemy. The enemy is the greed of private entities. A promise was made in 2014 to protect our citizens with the Ad Valorem Tax. The citizens of our county expect our legislators to do what is best for the citizens they represent today and not to be swayed by lobbyists, industry giants, and industry associations. We expect them to fight the chokehold that House Bill 5 will place on the county I proudly represent.

“This is a call to action for the citizens of Nelson County. This change will affect every person in this county. We need you to work with us and contact the members of the Kentucky General Assembly and ask them to vote NO for House Bill 5.”


  • Nelson County Public Schools $4.8 Million
  • Bardstown City Schools $2.0 Million
  • Nelson County Library $281,000
  • Nelson County Extension Service $93,000
  • Nelson County Government $1.2 Million
  • City of Bardstown $205,000

NOTE: These amounts are net. The original amount may be slightly larger due to discounts and commissions.


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