Thanks to a new law passed in Kentucky, and a heightened focus on changing antiquated alcohol shipping regulations, it’s becoming a lot easier for you to get your hands on the whiskey you’ve been eyeing online. The passing of HB415 means that for the first time, distilleries, breweries and wineries in Kentucky can sell their beloved spirits online. What does that mean for the average drinker? You can place orders within Kentucky, and other states that have similar laws, and have your favorite whiskey shipped directly to you.
“I am honored to be able to place the first order,” Kentucky State Representative Adam Koenig, who was one of the co-sponsors of HB415, said in a statement. “Hitting complete purchase symbolized so much more than buying a great bottle of bourbon. For Kentucky citizens, it means both convenience and expanded options to choose from. It is an extraordinary day for the men and women who work at our distilleries, wineries and breweries as well as Kentuckians who want a bourbon or glass of wine with dinner.” Koenig also hopes that with the number of huge distilleries in Kentucky this bill will inspire a number of other states to pass similar laws.
More states change laws to allow for home delivery
While there are currently only a limited number of states that have similar laws, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a number of laws loosening or changing altogether in many cities and states. Who could have predicted that the home delivery of alcohol – a business model that has historically faced significant opposition – would become a real possibility? And not only possible, but logical.
“Covid-19 has exposed a number of antiquated laws or flaws in the system, not only in the beverage alcohol world but in any supply chain,” David Wojnar, vice president of state government relations for the Distilled Spirits Council, tells Market Watch. “As consumers become more reliant upon their smartphones and the internet to make orders for delivery because they physically can’t go shopping, it stands to reason that’s going to be taking place.”
Recently, more states including Georgia, Pennsylvania, Arkansas and Oklahoma have expanded their beverage alcohol delivery laws to allow for home delivery services. Twenty-five states total permit the delivery of wine, spirits and beer while another eight allow wine and beer deliveries. And although in Kentucky there were some options for shipping previously, the bill offers flexibility and access at a time when small businesses across the country are struggling due to the pandemic. This will allow them to take online orders and ship bottles directly to customers.
Demand for home delivery of alcohol products remains high
The shift in alcohol shipping laws is welcome news for retailers who can’t keep up with the demand for home delivery of alcohol products in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
And the interest has shifted to more than just wine and beer. Wine has been a delivery staple for quite some time via direct-to-consumer (DTC) shipping, but now that popularity is being extended to spirits. RackHouse Whiskey Club is disrupting how whiskey fans can access their favorite spirit by partnering with independently owned craft distilleries so they can sell direct to consumer. RackHouse membership grew 4x in the last two years alone.
Industry experts don’t see the sales slowing down anytime soon, especially in markets where it’s already available. Home delivery is positioned to keep increasing now with more awareness that alcohol can be delivered due to Covid-19. It’s something retailers should take note of and consumers will want to take advantage of the change.
With the demand comes a need to replace confusing and tricky alcohol shipping laws that seem to be completely different depending on the state. How the product gets delivered is by and large up to the retailer. Some states allow them to use third parties for delivery and some states require deliveries be done by the retailer. One thing is for sure: there’s a ton of interest in expanding the home delivery of beverage alcohol for the states that don’t allow it yet, including Ohio, South Carolina, Alabama, and New Mexico.
“The issue of home delivery will be a big one for the state legislatures, either in special sessions in the fall or when the legislative sessions kick off in 2121,” Wojnar says. “Covid-19 highlighted the utility and need for it.”
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