Louisiana Senate Passes Bills Aiding Craft Distillers

The Louisiana Senate passed and sent to the Governor bills allowing craft distillers to sell at farmers' markets and permitting smaller distillers to distribute directly to eligible retailers and restaurants in Louisiana. "This legislation is monumental for small craft distilleries like mine," said Meagen Moreland-Taliancich, Co-Founder of Happy Raptor Distilling in New Orleans, “We see the demand for expansion of our services everyday, but our hands are tied by outdated and restrictive legislation.

Andrew Lohfeld, President of the Louisiana Distillers Guild and Co-Owner of Roulaison Distilling in New Orleans. “Distilling in Louisiana is a budding industry with the potential to greatly boost rural economies, create local jobs, encourage diversified tourism, and support local agriculture. We have incredible potential for growth, but we’d been seriously burdened by restrictive and outdated legislation. These bills are great first steps toward the modernization of our industry.”

One of the bills permits manufacturing distillers to sell or serve their finished products directly to consumers at farmers’ markets and similar venues, an allowance that has long been available to wine producers.

14 of the 23 active members of the Louisiana Distillers Guild source molasses, raw sugar, and/or cane juice from 8 of the state’s 11 sugar mills currently in operation; and many work directly with cane farmers in Ascension, Pointe Coupée, Vermillion, and Lafayette parishes. In addition to sugarcane, the guild’s members work with a variety of local farms to source raw materials, including rice from Vermillion Parish; strawberries from Tangipahoa Parish; blueberries from Washington parish; oranges from Plaquemines parish; and pecans from Tensas parish, among others.

“By championing Louisiana craft spirits, our lawmakers have shown not only a dedication to small businesses, but also to our state’s agriculture,” said Olivia Stewart, Vice President, Louisiana Distillers’ Guild and president of Oxbow Rum Distillery in Baton Rouge. “Our members buy from the majority sugar mills in the state, which in turn supports those family farms. This legislation is an obvious step forward that helps us connect these agricultural stories with the people in our communities.”

The other bill permits smaller manufacturing facilities of craft spirits to distribute directly to eligible retailers and restaurants/bars within the state of Louisiana. Additionally, it provides for the availability of outside wine, beer, and spirits to be served at up to 12 catered private events per year at distilling manufacturers’ facilities.

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