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North Carolinian Distillery Calls New Alcohol Sales Law a Game Changer

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North Carolina Distillers Association
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NC Distillers Passport, part of the NC Craft Distiller's Trail

It wasn’t long ago that distilleries in North Carolina were prohibited from selling their product on site.  Instead, after giving a tour, they’d have to direct visitors on down the road to the nearest ABC store.  But restrictions were loosened last October, opening customers’ wallets and new doors for the industry.

On October 1st, a new law loosening alcohol sales went into effect in North Carolina, and distilleries began selling souvenir liquor bottles on site.  Jeremy Norris, owner of Broadslab Distillery in Johnston County, says that the new law has been a game changer:

"When we opened up the tasting room and gift shop, you know, I had to hire some part time help. We couldn’t take in enough money doing tours and selling hats and t-shirts to even break even. We were losing money. But what it did for us, it created enough revenue to pay the help, pay the light bill. It helped to cover the overhead and cover the costs, so I was really, really happy when we got that law passed. I mean, it was kind of a lifesaver for us and what I was trying to do."

Still, distillers can only sell one bottle of their alcohol to each customer once per year.  Norris says Broadslab has repeat visitors, so some potential revenue is being lost there, but he says he’s fine with keeping the law as it is until studies can be done to definitively show its results:

"I think what we’re going to find is small distilleries like myself are creating customers, and in turn, I think it’s going to drive the higher sales in the ABC stores. So, I think they’re going to see a positive impact, and I know we’re going to see a positive impact, so I think in the future, we go back to the legislature, and it’ll be clear which direction we need to go."

Norris says another policy change that would help his business is allowing distilleries to provide tastings at public events, which wineries and breweries can already do.