House Bill 107, sponsored by Representative Bell, is bipartisan legislation allowing private liquor distilleries in North Carolina to sell their own products on-site, specifically to customers who have taken a tour of their facilities.
The bill would also allow for samplings of a distillery’s products at “trade shows, conventions, shopping malls, beverage festivals, street festivals, holiday festivals, agricultural festivals, balloon races, local fundraisers, and other similar events” if approved by the state’s Alcohol Beverage Control Commission (ABC).
The landmark legislation, if passed into law, would mark the first time in the state’s history that spirituous liquors — whiskey, gin, rum, brandy, and other distilled spirits — could be sold outside of an ABC store. State law currently only allows to be sold in state-run stores and bars administered by the ABC, which was created in 1933 in response to the repeal of Prohibition. There are approximately 400 ABC Stores in North Carolina.
This special kind of retail sale would fall under the authority of the ABC and would be subject to certain restrictions:
- The distillery must possess all federal and state permits;
- The sale of liquor at distilleries is authorized only in areas where ABC stores are allowed (local governments may only establish ABC stores with the approval of voters);
- Tours must be a regular public offering by the distillery;
- The liquor must be sold in closed containers;
- The liquor must be sold for consumption off premises;
- The liquor must be sold at prices set by the ABC board;
- All excise and sales taxes must be collected at the point of sale;
- Sales to pre-arranged tours must occur between the hours of 9:00 AM and 9:00 pm;
- Sales to walk-in tours must occur between the hours of 2:00 pm and 8:00 pm;
- Sale of liquor is limited to no more than 2 liters per customer per product label per day; and
- The additional sale of liquor in 50 ml “airplane bottles” is limited to four per customer per day.
North Carolina is one of only 17 “alcohol control” states — meaning that state has total monopoly over the sale and purchase of all alcoholic beverages (according to the ABC’s website, there are three “dry” counties ion North Carolina: Clay, Graham, and Yancey). For more information, Professor Michael Crowell has a fascinating history of liquor laws in North Carolina in the Campbell Law Review. From his article:
“The General Assembly has been legislating with regard to liquor since 1798. Initially sale and use were unrestricted, but gradually local governments were given authority to restrict or ban most liquor activities. By the time statewide prohibition was approved in 1908, local option had already made most of the state dry anyway. The end of prohibition in the mid-1930′s was followed by legislation establishing the form of the present ABC system. Beer and wine could only be sold by the bottle or by the drink, subject to city and county local option elections, but spiritous liquor, distilled spirits with more than 21 per cent alcohol, could only be sold by the bottle and only in county-run stores in counties exercising the local option in favor of such sales. Numerous local acts of the legislature followed, authorizing named cities to also hold elections on the establishment of ABC stores. Not until 1978, however, did the sale of spiritous liquor by the drink become lawful…”
The legislation is a direct result of a study bill passed during the 2013-2014 session.