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Gusciora, Wagner Bill to Create New Jersey "Craft Distillery License" Advances

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Reed Gusciora and Connie Wagner to allow the creation of craft distilleries in New Jersey was released Monday by the Assembly Budget Committee.

“A craft distillery license brings the manufacturing and distribution options available to New Jersey spirits makers on par with those enjoyed by New Jersey craft beer and wine makers,” said Gusciora (D-Hunterdon/Mercer). “Hand-crafting and small batch production has helped New Jersey make a name for itself in the beer and wine markets; it’s high time we did the same for distillers.”

The Gusciora/Wagner bill (A-3518) would create a craft distillery license in the state, which would permit licensees to manufacture up to 20,000 gallons annually – roughly 640 barrels – of distilled alcoholic beverages. Licensees would be permitted to sell the distillery’s products for consumption on premises to groups touring the distillery; individuals on a tour also would be permitted to buy up to five liters of product for consumption off premises. The licensee also would be permitted to offer consumers up to three samples per calendar day. Additionally, licensees would be permitted to sell their products to licensed wholesalers and retailers under State law and to other states, pursuant to the alcohol laws of those states. Specifically, the bill does not permit the direct shipment of distilled spirits either within or out of this State.

“Creating craft distilleries will have positive economic implications for the state,” said Wagner (D-Bergen/Passaic). “Much like our wineries and breweries, New Jersey craft distilleries will help carve out another niche in the regional tourism market; aid local farmers looking to sell off excess grains and fruits; and help keep us competitive with neighboring states that allow craft distilling.”

Under the bill, licensees who certify that at least 51 percent of the raw materials used in the production of the distilled spirits are grown or purchased from providers in New Jersey would be permitted to label their product as “New Jersey Distilled.” The bill also would permit the issuance of a craft distillery license to the holder of a limited brewery license, restricted brewery license, plenary winery license, or farm winery license for use on the same licensed premises. The bill specifically prohibits licensees from selling food or operating a restaurant on the licensed premise.

The fee to obtain this license would be $938.

The measure now heads to the Assembly Speaker, who decides when to post it for a floor vote.