by Jon Sanders
Director of the Center for Food, Power, and Life, Research Editor, John Locke Foundation
My research brief last week discussed this bill and its features. It would make several reforms freeing up North Carolina distilleries from burdensome restrictions not faced by their peers in many other states.
Among other things, the bill would allow distilleries to:
Here is a key portion of the debate over the bill as highlighted by Carolina Journal:
A sticking point in the process came with a provision allowing distillers to distribute their own state-approved spirits to customers such as bars and restaurants, via local ABC stores. The issue, in fact, led to a proposed committee substitute for the bill, which Gunn presented during the committee meeting.
Opponents of the measure, namely the N.C. ABC and the local boards, were worried about losing control of state alcohol sales and about collecting the appropriate taxes. Now, all liquor that is made in and comes into North Carolina goes through the N.C. ABC and is stored in a warehouse in Raleigh, to be distributed to some 170 local boards throughout the state. Problem is, the local boards aren’t compelled to carry any particular product, so a restaurant that may want to sell, say, an N.C-made whiskey, may be unable to procure it from a the respective local board, which operates independently.
Gunn said, “We are not going to direct distribute. That was very, very critical to our ABC boards and to our ABC commission, and even to some of the other stakeholders. … We have come up with a plan that will, in fact, help us get the product to the permittee so that they have a chance to compete.”
WIth the bill, Gunn said, a permit holder (restaurant or bar) can order a single bottle, which would be delivered to their local ABC store. If the local store is unable to deliver the product, for whatever reason, the store will notify the commission within 48 hours, and the commission will allow the distiller to deliver an approved product to the ABC store for pickup, Gunn said.