Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. said it "welcomed" introduction of the bill in the Pennsylvania Senate.
“In Pennsylvania, beer- and wine-based RTDs can be sold in nearly 11,000 locations, including grocery and convenience stores,” said Senator Mike Regan. “Meanwhile, spirits RTDs with the same or lower amounts of alcohol can only be sold in about 600 locations. My bill helps level the playing field for these comparable products, providing economic opportunity to thousands of Pennsylvania businesses and increasing consumer convenience.”
Expanding access to spirits RTDs in Pennsylvania will help small businesses, including the more than 117 craft distilleries in the state as well as the many grocery and convenience stores that will sell their products. By applying the 18% liquor tax to RTDs containing up to 12.5% alcohol and expanding access to these products, the state could gain between $153.3 and $184.5 million in new revenue over the course of three years.
Despite growing consumer demand for spirits RTDs, a DISCUS survey found that nearly two-thirds (62%) of craft spirits distillers say they are not producing spirits RTD products due to market barriers.
“As a small producer in Pennsylvania, we’ve been hesitant to enter into the ready-to-drink market simply because we know we will be at a 10,000-store disadvantage even though these products have the same alcohol content as beer and wine RTDs,” said Herman C. Mihalich, founder and distiller at Dad's Hat Rye Whiskey. “What’s worse, is our consumers want these products, but because of the unfair market structure, we can’t meet that consumer demand. We are being left out of the fastest growing spirits category, and that stifles innovation as well as consumer choice.”