NC General Assembly passes distillery bill

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Sutler'sby Eric Ginsburg

The North Carolina House passed House Bill 909 today, which allows distilleries to sell bottles directly to patrons touring a facility.

The bill passed its third reading 79-32 in the state House today, after passing the Senate on June 1. The bill was “ordered enrolled” today as well.

Rep. John Blust, a Guilford County Republican, voted against the bill.

HB 909 changes several components of the state’s liquor laws, but the most significant change is the ability of a distillery to now sell a bottle of its product directly to someone on a tour. North Carolina previously only allowed liquor to be sold in state-run ABC stores. A distillery could sell one bottle per-person per-year under the new rules.

An earlier version cleared the House 105-8 in late April but did not include the provision, according to the News & Observer. The bill will now go to Gov. Pat McCrory to be signed.

Sutler’s Spirit, a Winston-Salem-based company that currently produces gin, is the only distillery in the Triad in the distribution phase. But Broach Branch Distillery on Trade Street in Winston-Salem is on its way, and Greensboro Distilling Co. recently signed a lease near downtown Greensboro. Piedmont Distillers, which makes Junior Johnson’s Midnight Moon moonshine, is nearby in Madison.

Under existing law, Sutler’s Spirit has to ship its product to Raleigh, only to be sent by the ABC board back to stores in Winston-Salem. That will still be the case for the majority of the distillery’s product, but the law will allow companies such as this one to sell to customers in a limited capacity who are taking an on-site tour.

A myriad of groups (including distillers, of course) pushed for the legislation, including the conservative Americans for Prosperity and Greensboro’s daily newspaper, the News & Record.

If you’re interested, you can read HB 909 in full here.