Ohio Governor Ted Strickland has created a new liquor permit, A-3a, which will allow microdistilleries to sell small batch spirits from their own premises.
The very first such permit has been issued to Woodstone Creek. Owners Don and Linda Outterson have been busting their butts for this change, which is a crucial step in allowing small spirits producers to compete with established (and hard-lobbying) liquor distributorships in Ohio’s liquor control system. Since 1933 Ohio's liquor control laws have required all liquor to be distributed through state outlets which buy from a small handful of entrenched distributors.
The new permit allows a distiller to sell his own products with strict (and as usual for Ohio liquor laws, arcane and protectionist) limitations. A single A-3a permit can be issued in any county with a population of more than 400,000 -- essentially limiting the entire state to three permits: one each for Hamilton, Franklin, and Cuyahoga counties. Woodstone Creek may sell two bottles of full-proof spirit to any single customer on any single day at state-regulated prices.
According to the Outtersons, the new licensing is not all they proposed, but it's a step in the right direction. They credit State Senator Bill Seitz for getting behind them early this year and providing crucial leadership in Columbus to finally get this project, which they've been working on for four years, off the ground.
From their press release:
Much remains to be done for artisan spirits to progress in Ohio. Currently, one other micro license has been issued in Clinton County, but this start-up will not be eligible for the self-sales permit under the recent change. Many other states have evolved with the growth of the microdistilling industry. Indiana, West Virginia, and Kentucky have already enacted more liberal changes. Nationwide, microdistillation is the newest growth segment in alco-tourism, which began with wineries and microbreweries. In 2004, the newly formed American Distiller’s Institute listed 50 microdistilleries. In 2008, the list had expanded to 220, with a concentration in California and Oregon, which have the most progessive alcoholic-beverage control laws.Congratulate the Outtersons by stopping by the shop at 3641 Newton Avenue (off Dana between the Victory Parkway and Montgomery Rd) in Evanston, Saturdays 1 - 5, to buy a bottle or two. For more information call 513.569.0300 or email them.