by Becki Gray
Former Senior Vice President, John Locke Foundation
As we learned at a recent Shaftesbury Society talk, there are efforts afoot to change NC law to allow distilleries to sell samples of their product as part of a tasting tour, much like wineries already do. Senate Bill 24 was filed earlier this month and sits in the Senate Rules Committee. A companion bill, House Bill 107 will be introduced in the House tomorrow.
The bills would allow distilleries to sell one bottle of their product per year to a person participating in a tasting, not to be consumed on the premises. All applicable taxes, etc have to be paid. It would also expand where tastings can take place, not just at the distillery, but also at trade shows, conventions, shopping malls, beverage festivals, street festivals, holiday festivals, agricultural festivals, ballon races, local fundraisers. All of this would fall under the oversight and control of the ABC Commission.
This is not the first time the General Assembly has considered whether to allow product purchase at distilleries. The House attempted to send it to a study committee in 2013 but efforts to even look at it failed in the Senate. Then a House bill was proposed in 2014 for a pilot program in Asheville but that never made it out of committee.
Alcohol sales are legal and highly regulated in North Carolina. It’s time to allow consumers more freedom in their choice of where and when to purchase distilled products.