Bill Would Allow NC Craft Distilleries to Sell More on Premises, Offer Free Tastings…

Excerpt From: Carolina Journal. Written By: John Trump.

In North Carolina, more than 40 distilleries are now producing and selling liquor. Many offer tours and subsequent tastings.

Each visitor can then buy a single bottle from the distillery. Every 12 months.

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Distilleries refer customers who want more liquor to a local ABC store, where sales aren’t limited. Some people go but many others don’t, and the respective distillery loses sales and the resultant revenue.

A bipartisan bill filed Thursday would change that.

Senate Bill 155, by Sen. Rick Gunn, R-Alamance, would increase purchase limits from one bottle to five bottles per customer. It would allow the creation of a special permit letting distilleries offer free tastings at events, such as trade shows, conventions, street festivals and, following the lead of other states, state ABC stores. Distillers could pour no more than 1.5 ounces in total per customer.

Another provision in the bill would allow restaurants to sell alcohol starting at 10 a.m. Sunday, according to local rules. Other primary sponsors of S.B. 155 are Sen. Dan Blue, D-Wake; and Sen. Kathy Harrington, R-Gaston. The bills was referred to the Committee on Rules and Operations of the Senate.

The “one-bottle law,” which became effective in October 2015, was a catalyst for entrepreneurs and nascent distillers. Many of North Carolina’s alcohol laws date to the 1930s, and the state didn’t lift its ban on making liquor until 1979. North Carolina didn’t get its first legal distillery until 2005, when Piedmont Distillers of Madison came online.

Wineries and breweries have grown exponentially, although each continues to fight their own regulatory battles. Distilleries, it can be argued, have been badly outmanned and outgunned by ungainly piles of rules, regulations and resistance.

Their perseverance is starting to pay off.

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