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

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Reed Gusciora and Connie Wagner to allow the creation of craft distilleries in New Jersey has been signed into law.

“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; and it’s high time we did the same for distillers.”

The sponsors noted that the craft distilling industry is rapidly growing throughout the United States, especially in New York, California, Oregon, and Washington. The resurgence of small distilleries will encourage economic growth, increase tax revenue, and provide assistance to the agriculture industry.

“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.”

The new law creates a craft distillery license in the state, which permits licensees to manufacture up to 20,000 gallons annually – roughly 640 barrels – of distilled alcoholic beverages. Under the law, licensees are permitted to sell the distillery’s products for consumption on premises to groups touring the distillery; individuals on a tour will be able to purchase up to five liters of product for consumption off premises. The licensee can offer consumers up to three samples per calendar day. Additionally, licensees will 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 law does not permit the direct shipment of distilled spirits either within or out of this State.

Under the law, 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 law specifically prohibits licensees from selling food or operating a restaurant on the licensed premise.

The fee to obtain this license is $938.