Anti-tax protest doesn't make a splash

William M. Dowd photo

Presidents and master distillers from some of Kentucky's leading distilleries joined a protest Tuesday in Frankfort over a proposed retail tax on all alcohol products. However, on Wednesday the bill they were fighting received approval in one section of the state legislature.

The current liquor taxes include an 11% wholesale tax on packaged liquor, a 6% tax on drinks purchased in bars and restaurants, an 8-cent-per-gallon tax on beer, a 50-cent-per-gallon tax on wine and a $1.92-per-gallon tax on distilled spirits.

The protest was in reaction to a House committee approval for a 6% additional tax on alcoholic beverages in stores. The measure then passed the full house Wednesday and is expected to go to the full senate by the weekend, according to Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville.

More than 400 people — many of whom work in Kentucky's signature bourbon industry — attended the Tuesday rally, which culminated in the bourbon "tea party," a play on the Boston Tea Party, the most famous American colonial tax protest.

A convoy of trucks from breweries and distilleries circled the Capitol building while individuals such as Wild Turkey's iconic master distiller Jimmy Russell (at right in photo with a tour group at the distillery) poured bottles of bourbon on the Capitol's front steps in protest.

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