New law allows craft distilleries to self-distribute, create “distill pubs”

Puts them on same playing field as craft breweries, wineries

Craft distilleries will now be allowed to deliver and sell their products directly to bars, restaurants and stores, as well as open “distill pubs” under a new law sponsored by State Senator Dan McConchie (R-Hawthorn Woods).

For years, craft breweries and wineries have been able to do limited self-distribution of their product in order to build brand recognition and loyalty, a privilege not granted to distilleries. The idea to pursue a change in the law to allow very small distilleries to self-distribute their product, just as craft breweries and wineries have done for years, began three years ago in a meeting at Copper Fiddle Distillery, a craft distillery in Lake Zurich in Sen. McConchie’s district, where the owners complained to the Senator that the current law was unjust.

“This bill will finally put craft distilleries on equal footing with craft breweries and wineries after years of inequity,” said Sen. McConchie. “It can be very difficult, and sometimes impossible, for a small distillery to secure a distributor until they grow large enough to make it cost effective for the distributor to service their account. Fortunately, after years of negotiating, this new law will now level the playing field between all forms of alcohol production and help spur new business growth within the industry.”

“This new law is a very welcome, overdue change that puts craft distilleries in Illinois at parity with micro-breweries and wineries,” said Fred Robinson, owner of Copper Fiddler Distillery. “It gives the newer, small craft distilleries the ability to compete and establish a brand on their own without relying on the wholesaler to move the product at the wholesaler’s pace. This law will greatly benefit Illinois and its craft spirits industry.”

House Bill 2675, which was signed into law Friday, August 23.

Under the new law, distilleries, who produce no more than 50,000 gallons a year, can sell and deliver up to 5,000 gallons of spirits per year directly to retailers and other vendors. Furthermore, distilleries, like breweries and wineries, can now also open up “distill pubs”, where customers can sample their house-made spirits as well as other products. Proponents of the new law noted the importance of this because having a variety of products will make visiting the distillery more enjoyable for mixed groups where some in the group do not drink spirits, but drink wine or beer instead.

The law takes effect immediately.

Dan McConchie

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