Kentucky Liquor Laws

Mint julep
••• A mint julep at the 2015 Kentucky Derby. Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Regulations regarding the sale and consumption of alcohol vary from state to state. The following is a brief overview of Kentucky liquor laws. For detailed information on Kentucky Liquor laws or getting licensed to sell alcoholic beverages in Kentucky, visit the website of the Kentucky Alcoholic Beverage Control.

Kentucky Laws Regarding Alcohol

  • You must be 21 years old to purchase and consume alcohol in Kentucky.
  • You must be at least 18 and in the company of someone at least 20 years old to sell packaged beer in a grocery store or gas station. You must be 20 years old in order to bartend, and no one under the age of 20 is permitted to wait on a table in which alcoholic beverages are being consumed.
  • Liquor can be served from 6 a.m. to 4 a.m. Monday through Saturday and 1 p.m. to 4 a.m. on Sunday in Louisville, Kentucky. Some cities and counties stop at 12 am by state law.
  • Liquor can be served from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Saturday and 1 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Sunday in all Kentucky cities and counties outside of Metro Louisville.
  • Some laws depend on what you are purchasing. For instance, a consumer may buy a bottle of wine in a drug store but not in a supermarket. And if a grocery store wants to sell wine or liquor, the area where these items are sold must have a separate entrance.
  • You may be unable to buy any alcoholic beverages during elections. No alcoholic beverages are sold during primary or general elections. The exception is special elections, then alcoholic beverages will be available at grocery stores, liquor stores, and anywhere else that normally sells alcoholic beverages.

What age for the Kentucky Bourbon Trail?

You must be 21 years old or older to participate in the Kentucky Bourbon Trail experience.

Individuals under 21 can go on the tours but are not permitted to sample or stamp a passport. So, Kentucky liquor laws are not only important for residents of Kentucky, but also for all of the visitors interested in the Bourbon Trail.

What is the Bourbon Trail? 

The Bourbon Trail is an organized way to visit a handful of the many distilleries in Kentucky. The trail was launched in 1999 by the Kentucky Distillers Association. The association decided tourists would appreciate an organized way to experience bourbon history, and the Kentucky Bourbon Trail does just that. The trail is a unique way to learn about the art and science of making bourbon whiskey. Plus, visitors can learn about the rich history of Kentucky and how the state became known for creating a distinctively American spirit. And the association was right, visitors flock to Kentucky to tour the trail.

What is a Bourbon Trail passport?

The Kentucky Bourbon Trail passport is a way to track what distilleries you have visited. It is a big part of bourbon tourism. Visitors can pick up a printed passport at the Louisville Visitors Center, located in downtown Louisville at 4th and Jefferson, or ask for one at any of the participating distilleries.

There is also a digital passport available for download, for individuals who don't want to carry a printed booklet. At each distillery, visitors receive a stamp, proof of your visit. Some pick and choose which distilleries they are interested in, others methodically go through the whole book. If you do have proof of visiting each distillery, you can show your passport and receive a t-shirt for your efforts! Below are locations where a t-shirt can be picked up:

  • Louisville Visitor Center​
    301 South 4th St. Louisville, KY
    502-379-6109
  • Bardstown Visitor Center
    One Court Square Bardstown, KY
    800-638-4877
  • Shepherdsville/Bullitt County Tourism
    395 Paroquet Springs Drive, Shepherdsville, KY
    800-526-2068
  • Lebanon Tourist and Convention Commission
    239 N. Spalding Ave. Ste 200, Lebanon, KY
    270-692-0021
  • Lexington Visitor Center
    401 West Main St, Suite 104
    Lexington, KY
    800-845-3959

    Bourbon Fun Facts

    Do you like fun facts? Here's one... 95 percent of the world's bourbon comes from the state of Kentucky. Stunning, right? Read more about bourbon laws and the history of bourbon.