It will take a lot more to make I-1183 Washington’s spirits economy more than six of one compared to the old days of half a dozen of another. But the state’s craft and micro distillers and independent wine and beer shops — with involvement of a few Capitol Hill-based businesses — are talking about taking an early step to start making things better for smaller shops, smaller producers and the state’s consumers.
A public hearing is planned for Friday in Olympia for senate bill 5731, a proposal that would allow licensed beer and wine shops in the state to sell spirits made by craft and micro distilleries. If implemented, the new law would have a December 9, 2013 effective date — the day after the two-year 1183’s change prohibition window closes.
Two of the state’s 13 Distiller/Rectifier licensed distilleries are based on Capitol Hill — 14th and Union’s Oola Distillery and E Pike’s Sun Liquor. Meanwhile, the Hill is home to licensed wine shops Vino Verite, Essence and EVS.
The 5731 proposal would allow existing licensed beer and wine shops to sell spirits made by distillers producing less than 60,000 gallons per year of booze — like Oola, Sun and the other 13 larger distilleries in the state as well as the 58 licensed craft distilleries. It would also open their shelves to micro and craft distilleries from outside the state while making an exception to 1183’s retail store size requirements.
While there’s a long way to go for the bill to become law, the bill also may be a sign of things to come as Washington’s liquor industry looks forward to the ability to tweak 1183 as the two-year change prohibition ends later this year.
5731 is sponsored by Senator Karen Keiser (D 33rd). You can contact her here.