Jump to content

News from New York, distillers take heed and act

Recommended Posts

Newly licensed distillers and those launching new product in New York take heart. At the request of Tuthilltown Spirits, State Senator Bonacic has introduced a bill which would amend NYS Alcohol Beverage Control law and permit holders of DD or Farm Distillery licenses to offer samples and sell NY branded spirits direct to consumers at Farmers' Markets, State and County Fairs. This direct access to consumers where they live is a fabulous opportunity to test new products or gain a consumer foothold when developing a brand.

You can help. Holders of New York DD licenses should contact their State legislators and strongly urge them to get on board and support S-06426, the text of which is available at:


Get on the phone, write a "letter" (remember "letters", on paper, mailed and landing on someone's desk?) to your Legislators today.

Additionally, in a meeting with three of the senior Executives at the State Liquor Authority, the question arose what we would do if we found our distillery successful and pushing up against the upper production limit of our two licenses (we hold both A-1 (limit 35,000 gallons per year production) and DD (permitting 35,000 gallons of production a year)), our total cumulative permitted production limit is 70,000 gallons per year. We responded that we'd apply for the larger production scale license which has no upper production limit. But the Chief Counsel of the SLA suggested it would be a more effective route to simply get the limits raised, noting also that the next tier license class did not permit a tasting room or sampling and sales to consumers at the distillery, which has become a strong part of our revenue stream. (I told him the Fed is considering HR 777, which bill calls for a two tiered system with the first 65,000 pg taxed at a lower rate than all production above that first 65K proof gallons.) He indicated he thought it would be reasonable to request the State amend the limit for the small distillers and raise it to that of the standard being considered by the Fed and accepted by ADI membership nationally.

We have inquired at Senator Bonacic's office the possibility that this suggestion of an increased maximum production allowance be added to S-06426 so both changes carry through the process at once.

By the way, that conversation came during a visit to our distillery, at our invitation of the three top officials at the State Liquor Authority to our distillery. The Commissioner, Dennis Rosen had invited me to visit in Albany to discuss needs of the small distillers in New York, to which I countered that he and his associates would should come visit our distillery and see how a small distiller operates and learn first hand what our needs and concerns are. Mr. Rosen readily accepted the invitation and a positive exchange of ideas and concerns followed in our tasting room. We consider it a strong step in the right direction, which we made certain they understood. We expressed our happy surprise at the free and open nature of the discussion and their willingness to listen and participate; we are of the firm opinion that no regulating body can function effectively when no one in the regulated industry trusts the regulating agency. They agreed and expressed their desire under the Cuomo Administration to help relieve some of the impediments and make it easier to be in business. They acknowledged the arcane and complex nature of the cobbled together liquor law, and that they are addressing a revision that would eliminate a great deal of the useless components and redundancies. We commented that one major improvement would be the leveling of the playing field in law, as among breweries, wineries and distilleries; it's all alcohol after all and the producers have more in common than not. The SLA team agreed. We're grateful for their time and the effort to come visit from Albany.

I relate the details of the meeting here to make the point; times change, administrations change. An intransigent liquor authority or bad alcohol law are not permanent fixtures. You can influence and effect change, but you must act. Be smart and reasonable, be persistent but patient. The wheels of government grind on slowly, but they do grind on, stay with it. Don't focus your legislators' attention on alcohol; keep them attentive to the other benefits of a strong micro distilling industry: agriculture, jobs creation, tax revenue, tourism development, rural economic development, history.


Link to comment
Share on other sites


Thanks for the update. We got our DSP today and state license should follow shortly. I'll talk to our local assemblyman. I'm pretty confident he will carry it in the assembly. Also spoke to Joe Griffo about it.

Dennis is a good fit for the Liquor Authority. He's a very bright and ethical guy. I worked for him at the Attorney General's office during law school. Let me know if I can help.

Steve Cox

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 5 weeks later...

We asked the SLA about permits to sample and sell at untypical sites off premises like fairs and farmers' markets in the absence of the amendment put forward. The Chief Counsel responded:

It is possible for us to sample and sell according to Statute: 99-B1.k, which states:

1.The liquor authority is hereby authorized to issue a permit to:

k. A person to purchase, receive or sell alcoholic beverages or receipts, certificates, contracts or other documents pertaining to alcoholic beverages, in cases not expressly provided for by this chapter, when in the judgment of the liquor authority it would be appropriate and consistent with the purpose of this chapter.

We've requested the permit application. However it should be noted the permit does not permit "sales", only sampling, promotion and the "taking of orders" (though we don't know what that means, exactly, since the buyer would still have to go to the retail shop nearby to pick up their goods). The distiller loses the opportunity for the spur-of-the-moment purchase on the spot by a sufficiently impressed taster.

It is for that reason we should persist and not diminish the enthusiasm and resolve to pass S-06426. The goal is equal consideration with the wineries and brewers so that Farm Distillers producing New York branded agricultural spirits may offer samples and sales of their goods at Farmers' Markets, State and County Fairs and other non profit fairs without additional permits or fees.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

In a conversation this morning with the Legislative Assistant at the office of Senator Bonacic, the topic of timing for passage of the S-6426 was raised. Typically a bill affecting alcohol law is not effective till 180 days after passage. This is to permit the SLA time to promulgate regulations to govern any changes in the statute. I asked our contact to please check with the SLA to see if they foresee any reason to delay since regulations for tastings already exist and would govern tastings and sales at farmers' markets and fairs. We urge you to contact your Assemblyman and State Senator to urge their support of the bill and shortening of the time lag till effective so that Farm Distillers can take advantage of the coming tourism and farmers' market season.

The bill has not yet been introduced in the House. So perhaps you can contact your Assemblyman and urge him/her to introduce the bill in the Assembly.

It is also critical the Legislature approve the bill and the Governor's counsel call for the bill to be sent with other bills for signing by the Governor at the earliest possible opportunity. Without a call from the Governor's office for the bill once it is passed by the legislature, the bill can sit for months without getting the Governor's attention and signature. Anyone with access to the Governor's office or the office of his counsel should reach out and urge them to call for the bill and hasten the Governor's approval so we don't miss the coming season of farmers' markets and fairs.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Governor Cuomo supports farm brewery and winery bill. See details at the link below.

Please contact your local legislator and press him/her to seek equal consideration for the Farm Distillers in New York State. Read the details of the bill and how it will help wineries and breweries then ask yourself it the same consideration will help your distillery business survive and prosper.

See the press release from the Governor's office at: http://www.governor.ny.gov/press/03062012Legislation

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Never give up. Never give up. Never, never, never." Winston Churchil

Received a call from Assemblyman Kevin Cahill's office yesterday to let me know that the Assemblyman introduced S-6426 into the NYS Assembly as bill number A9863. Please contact your district Assemblyman and urge their support for the bill.

Another bill has been introduced, The bill, A09523 amends ABC law and makes holders of the Farm Distillery and Farm Winery licenses exempt from certain filing requirements such as listing in great detail, the information on the report which till must be filed:

must include the total value of those sales made during the period covered by the return

(excepting the sales described in clauses (i) and (ii) of this subpara-

graph) and the vendor's, operator's or recipient's state liquor authori-

ty license number, along with the information required by paragraph two

of this subdivision

The bill, if passed would make holders of Farm Distillery and Farm Winery licenses exempt from this requirement. This change will greatly shorten the time required for the license holder to file transfer reports. For the short staffed micro distiller this is a good step toward overall reduction of unnecessary or redundant regulatory paperwork.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

For New York DSP permit holders. ARTISAN SPIRITS GUILD OF NEW YORK first meeting 11AM, FRIDAY, JUNE 8th at TUTHILLTOWN SPIRITS DISTILLERY, 14 Gristmill Lane, Gardiner, New York.

We attempted to organize a smaller number of Artisan DSP permitees a couple years ago but it was too early. I suggested a first meeting be organized at Tuthilltown and response has been strong among New York State DSP owners and management. This is a second launch, but for all intents and purposes it is the initial organizational meeting. This is a "producers" meeting, the invite is limited to those holding or representing the holders of DSP permits. The Agenda will be open, and include generally the following:

  1. Discussion and Agreement on purpose and the Formation of Guild
  2. Introductions
  3. Presentation of draft bylaws
  6. DISCUS and small distillers
  7. Open discussion of issues
  8. Next meeting date

Any licensed New York distillers, if you have not done so already, please let me know you're coming: ralph@tuthilltown.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

The bill to open Farmers' Markets, State and County Fairs to NY Farm Distilleries for sampling and sales to consumers is now out of Committee and in the Assembly. It will now take a little time before it will be ready to send to the Governor for signature. Time is short in this session, but we are optimistic. Call your Assemblyman and get him/her on board pushing for passage.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

Spent the day Tuesday in Albany lobbying legislators and learning about the progress of the bill permitting access to consumers at farmers' markets, State and County fairs. Learned the bill is through the Senate as we knew. It is in the Assembly and in the Economic Development Committee. We received a tip there was some resistance in the Economic Development Committee to the notion of offering hard liquor samples at fairs. We got the message to through the legislative assistant working with the Committee Chairman of the resistance and provided a response. It was: Both wineries and breweries can offer samples at the locations we are requesting access to in our bill and there is NO LIMIT on the amount they can serve a persons as samples but there are strict regulatory limits on the amount of spirits samples and the number of samples which can be offered by distillers. Please contact your Legislator and if possible drop a letter to the Chair of the State Economic Development Committee and make the point.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Update on bill to permit sampling and sales at State and County Fairs, and at Farmers' Markets. The bill is through ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, passed; and is now before CODES COMMITTEE, which is reported to be the "toughest committee". Please read the bill below and contact the Chair of the CODES Committee, here is the link to the Committee web page listing the Chair and Members:


Here is the link to the text of the bill, please read, note the sections in ALL CAPS are the actual changes to the existing law. http://open.nysenate.gov/legislation/bill/A9863-2011

This bill makes the ability to attend and do sampling and consumer sales of your products at Farmers' Markets, State and County Fairs. This is your DIRECT ACCESS to consumers. Contact your legislator and the RULES committee members and let them know how important this is to Farm Distilleries attempting to introduce new products into the market.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Meeting was held at TUTHILLTOWN SPIRITS FARM DISTILLERY of New York distillers with the goal of the meeting: formation of a New York Distillers Guild. New York distillers may contact me for summary and list of attendees.

It was a positive meeting. 19 attendees representing 11 licensed NY DSPs. All agreed to the need to organize for promotional and for legislative reasons. Membership was agreed generally to be two tiered: Full Member (DSP permit holders only, one vote per DSP member), and Associate Members (non-voting, industry and interested non DSP permit holders). A second meeting is scheduled for one month from now, no date fixed yet.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Received letter from SHELDON SILVER, Speaker of the House, New York State Assembly today bringing me up to date on Assembly Bill 9863. He reports:

"You will be pleased to know that Assembly Bill 9863 passed the Assembly on June 18th, 2012. The Senate3 also passed this measure, and they will send it to the Governor for his signature into law. "

Okay then.......!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...


At: 11am, Thursday, JULY 12


(518) 512-9949


ALBANY, NY 12207

VISIT www.albanydistilling.com





Link to comment
Share on other sites


1. Introduction all around

2. Introduction of guests: Dennis Rosen, Chairman STATE LIQUOR AUTHORITY BOARD; and Tom Donohue, Chief Counsel, STATE LIQUOR AUTHORITY, Q&A period, discussion

3. Update on Legislation efforts in NY State and Federal level

4. Introduction of proposed bylaws

5. Discussion on DISTILLERY DAYS event in NY

6. Open Discussion

The meeting is open to licensed NY Distillers and those in the application process for their distilling license. Only licensed DSP representatives may vote on issues under consideration (one vote per licensed DSP).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For Immediate Release: Contact: Conor Bambrick

July 13, 2012 (518) 455-4436


Farm Distillery Bill Headed to Governor’s Desk

(Albany, NY) Assemblymember Kevin Cahill (D – Ulster, Dutchess) announced that the Legislature has passed a bill he sponsored, A.9863, which would allow farm distilleries in New York to expand their business by selling their product at farmers’ markets and county fairs, an opportunity already afforded to the state’s wineries and breweries. The bill is now awaiting approval by the Governor.

“This bill would be a boost to businesses that are dedicated to using locally grown products,” said Assemblymember Cahill. “Furthermore, this represents a great opportunity for these small businesses to expand their market and promote their products.”

“This legislation is important for our members, as it makes simple financial sense,” said Dean Norton, President of New York Farm Bureau. “Farm distillers are a growing segment of agriculture in New York and new markets are needed to sell their products and continue their progress. Since farm distillers are required to source crops from New York farms to craft their distilled products, the agricultural industry overall receives an economic benefit as well. We thank Assemblyman Kevin Cahill, along with Senator John Bonacic, for their sponsorship of this legislation and look forward to Governor Cuomo signing this bill into law.”

“The passage of this new bill, A.9863, recognizes the fact New York's twenty-two Farm Distillers are full partners with the State's Farm community and a valued part of the Agriculture Industry in New York,” comments Ralph Erenzo, a partner in the Hudson Valley Farm Distillery TUTHILLTOWN SPIRITS, New York's first whiskey distillery since Prohibition. “Opening Farmers’ Markets, State and County Agricultural fairs to Farm Distillers for the sampling and sale of their New York spirits allows new producers to introduce their distinct products directly to consumers the same way as New York wineries and breweries.”

Link to comment
Share on other sites



Albany Distilling Company, Albany, NY

Twelve distillers on hand at the ALBANY DISTILLING COMPANY for second meeting of the NEW YORK DISTILLERS GUILD.


1. Introduction all around

2. Introduction of guests: Dennis Rosen, Chairman STATE LIQUOR AUTHORITY BOARD; and Tom Donohue, Chief Counsel, STATE LIQUOR AUTHORITY, Kerri O’Brian, Licensing Chief SLA, Q&A period, discussion

Discussion with Executives of the STATE LIQUOR AUTHORITY was informative. The Executives were forthcoming. Some issues raised and answered:

GNS and products using GNS and the ability of Farm Distilleries to make and sell. Response indicated that if a distiller is using GNS to make their products, the GNS must have been made using no less than 75% NY Agricultural materials to qualify as a New York State Labeled product, which are the only products which can be made by a Farm Distiller or sold in a shop at the distillery and used for tastings under ABC law.

Officials confirmed that only NY State Labeled products may be sold at Farm Distilleries and Farm Wineries.

Officials confirmed that cider (containing alcohol) may not be tasted under current law at Farm Wineries and Farm Distilleries, but the Chief Counsel has added wording to the soon to be approved Farm Brewery law which will solve this problem and allow tastings of NY cider at these locations.

Discussion on question: if mixed cocktails may be used in tastings under ABC law. Chief Counsel Donohue commented the law specifically allows sampling of “liquor” it does not specifically say anything may be mixed with the liquor in sampling sessions even if the amount of liquor in a cocktail sample is within the limit prescribed by ABC law pertaining to sampling. The Chairman, Mr. Rosen disagreed with this interpretation. Distillers commented that the intent of the law is to limit alcohol consumption during tastings, not to eliminate any non-alcohol additions to the sampling. Distillers also commented their belief that diluting alcohol in a sample with additions lessens the effect of the alcohol ingested.

The SLA officials confirmed that spirits may NOT be shipped direct to consumers in New York. Any out of State shipments to consumers or any other recipient must conform to the laws of the destination state.

Discussion on label changes. Officials agreed that such as the batch number, date, etc information on an approved label may be hand written on each bottle without risk of violating approved label change by State.

All agreed that the meeting face to face with SLA executives helped to establish an open line of communication between distillers and the SLA. The SLA officials stressed the “new posture” of the SLA which is mandated by the Cuomo administration to help distillers navigate the law and be successful. This is a change from past, when the only responsibility of the SLA, from the SLA point of view, was enforcement. The new mandate includes “development”.

3. Update on Legislation efforts in NY State and Federal level

The bill to permit Farm Distillers access to Farmers’ Markets and State and County Fairs is now before the Governor for signature. The bill will not take effect for 180 days after signature.

HR 777, the bill proposed at Federal level which would reduce FET for small distillers to 20% of the full tax rate. The bill was sponsored originally by Maurice Hinchey’s office as a “tax credit”, which was not acceptable by the TTB, which proposed it be a simple discount. The bill was submitted to DISCUS attorneys who rewrote the text for a new bill which would enact a discount rate for producers up to a limit of 65,000; the discount would apply to all distillers for the first 65,000 proof gallons of production. Maurice Hinchey is retiring, requiring sponsorship by another legislator. Various distillers from New York conducted a DISCUS organized lobbying effort in DC during which support was given the new bill by a variety of NY legislators. The search is now on for a new sponsor for the revised bill. No noticeable objections have been received to the proposition.

Rosen and Donohue updated group on legislation pending. The SLA has added language to the Farm Brewery bill which would correct the error in ABC law pertaining to those distilleries from which a Farm Winery may purchase spirits; this list up till now has not included the Farm Distillery permit holders. This was an admitted error on the part of the SLA and the State. Donohue introduced wording into the upcoming (passed by both houses and on Governor’s desk for signature) Farm Brewery bill which would correct this omission.

4. Introduction of proposed bylaws

Collin provided printed copies of the proposed bylaws. The proposed bylaws are based on those adopted by the Brewers Association. It was agreed that these bylaws are appropriate, but that formalization of the organization, incorporation as 501 c (6) organization may be premature and the group was small enough to manage for the time being as an Association of Distillers. Proposed bylaws were reviewed and agreed to be set aside till the group is better prepared to take up the work associated with formalized organization.

Also discussed, the number of standing committees seems high compared with the actual membership count of the guild at this point. It is agreed these committee proposals are for the future.

5. Discussion on DISTILLERY DAYS event in NY

Short discussion. This event to be voluntarily organized by distillers in NY who are prepared to undertake the first year event at their facility. Each distillery organizes their own events. 2012 event to be a test.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

NEW YORK DISTILLERS ALERT: Just got word of a bill introduced in the NYS Senate by Senator Parker which was introduced in February 2012, can't say why we have not heard of this till now. The bill can be viewed at the Bill Search page of the NY Legislature: http://assembly.stat...ary=Y&Actions=Y

The proposed bill number is SB6393.

This bill proposes to raise State excise tax rate for distilleries on spirits you produce from the current $1.70 per liter to $2.26 per liter. This is a substantial increase in the excise tax you will pay on your artisan goods to the State of New York. On top of that, the increased revenue that tax increase generates is not designated to be used to improve the services of the SLA or help the development of the industry, it is to be put right into the General Fund.

Please contact your local State representatives and let them know that an increase in the excise tax does nothing to help the growing micro distilling industry, nor the beverage alcohol industry in general when the money goes into the General Fund and not to improve the climate for the industries affected. It is especially inappropriate to raise taxes on Farm Distilleries, Farm Breweries and Farm Wineries which are small, privately owned agricultural operations contributing to the economy in various ways including jobs creation, agricultural development and economic development in rural areas.

Fight this bill!!!

UPDATE AS OF 8/14, word from legislative source, this bill has no sponsor in the Assembly and is likely to go nowhere.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Another alert for New York based producers, this one for support of a bill now in WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE at the NYS Legislature. The "enabling legislation" which spells out the purpose and scope of responsibilities mandated of the STATE LIQUOR AUTHORITY currently stipulates the agency is responsible for "regulating" the beverage alcohol industry in New York, but unlike the Department of Ag and Markets it has NO mandate to "develop" the industry. New York State Senator Saladino has introduced a bill which would add "job creation" and "industry development" to the enabling document and the responsibilities of the SLA. This is a major step forward in recognizing beverage alcohol production as an economic force in New York State, creating jobs and contributing to local, regional and State economies. Please check this out and reach out to your Legislators and ask them to support this bill.

Here is a brief description of the bill the full description of which including the actual text of the bill can be found on the Senate Bill Search site on line, further info can be found on the bill search site on line:

A02412 Summary:


SAME AS Same as S 1515-A

SPONSOR Gabryszak (MS)

COSPNSR Saladino


Amd S2, ABC L

Provides that the state policy with regard to the alcoholic beverage control

law shall be to promote economic development and job opportunities in the beer,

wine and liquor industries of the state.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've been discussing possible investments the State or Not For Profit Agricultural support agencies could make that would make a difference for producers and support the growth of the industry. One item is a mobile bottling facility.

The concept all mentioned was a 40' box trailer, equipped with three phase power, water hookup and perhaps air conditioning. The trailer would be mounted to a tractor (motor freight type) and would be "on order" for scheduling by wineries and distilleries.

The unit could also service other beverage bottlers like juice and fruit drinks and such, which need a large run of bottles through.

The unit would be rented by the producer and scheduled through a central dispatching station. There would be minimum facility accommodations required of those renting it, like adequate hook up fittings to connect to water and power, and a space to manage the goods, and forklift to deliver glass to the rig.

The unit would be fitted with a product reservoir, state of art filler (probably rotary type), capper (cork and screw top types), conveyor belt to feed the filler, adapters to accommodate filling a variety of shapes and sizes of glass, sealer (heat tunnel for heat shrink seals) and possibly waxer for dipping bottle tops for sealing. An additional piece of gear would be a high speed labeling unit which feeds roll of adhesive backed paper labels and mounts them on bottles. Also fitted with self-cleaning facility to hose down the unit, stainless steel fittings and drainage.

We would need to establish a home base for the unit when not in use.

This type of unit would NOT need any kind of State or Federal licensing as a distillery or winery, it would operate apart from those licenses on the licensed premises of the producer. It may need Dept of Ag and Markets approval or some sanitary inspection process by the State.

And it could be a mobile billboard for NY producers. There are over 200 wineries and now 22 Farm Distillers in New York who could benefit from this kind of unit.

If you have any comments on this concept please post them. We have the support of our local Legislator and PATTERN FOR PROGRESS has expressed interest in the concept as well.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Worked on one of those in Europe. Obviously I'm not in NY, but one (unasked for) piece of advice I'd add is to make sure it has its own CIP system. You can't always depend on CIP reservoirs/pump/heating elements at the distillery/winery it is servicing.

But..... Bravo, Mr. Erenzo. Carrying the flag for the rest of us, as usual. Thank you.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...