Bill to Allow Distilleries to Sell On-Site
So you tasted a home brewed spirit you really liked but didn't know where to find it. Turns out it's distilled just a short drive away. You drive there and the distillery can't sell it to you. There's a bill working its way through the Georgia State House that may put it in arms reach.
Georgia State Representative Rusty Kidd is sponsoring House Bill 185. The bill would allow distilleries such as Georgia Distilling Company in Milledgeville to acquire a liquor license and authorize retail sales of distilled spirits on site.
"It would be a limited license," said Kidd. "Only to what they manufacture."
For the last year, thanks to a billed also sponsored by Kidd, visitors to any of the 10 distilleries across the state can taste test the product on site, but can't leave with a bottle of their own.
Kidd's bill would change that.
"They take a sample and say, 'I think I want to buy a bottle of this'. It would permit them to buy up to two bottles," said Kidd.
Kidd says it's not feasible for a liquor store to stock every bottle of every maker.
"They go in and they sample it and they want to buy a bottle. You can't expect them to get back in their car and drive however many miles it might be to find a liquor store to sell that exact bottle."
Kidd points to north Georgia winery Chateau Elan in Braselton. Kidd says the winery hosts about 500 visitors per week while selling 750 bottles in that time. He says if wineries worked under the same laws as distilleries, their profits would be less.
"They'd probably be selling between 50-75 bottles, not 750."
Kidd says due to the popularity of shows like Discoveries "Moonshiners", distilleries are becoming more of an economic power. Interest in the production of spirits is growing and so is tourist traffic to places they're made.
"We now have some in Georgia," said Kidd. "Lets visit them, spend a little money and buy two bottles."
The house has three weeks to pass the bill. Session is currently in day 18 of 40.