TL;DR version

  • If we are reduced (as the Asst. Attorney General wants) to selling only shots of vodka, tasting room business would drop an estimated 100%. Without tasting room income, the production cost per bottle (and the retail sale price) would be unrealistically high. I predict all or nearly all distilleries would fold within a year.
  • Downstream effects: laid off employees, grain farmers lose out on sales, livestock farmers lose out on our free spent grain, and lots of potential tax money is lost.
  • The AAG argued that the statute can only means that we may sell 3 oz of our product (vodka) and nothing else. She further argued that her interpretation was the only valid interpretation and that it was the only one that the Supreme Court could uphold. Distillers had been muted out of the meeting by then.
  • The language in the statutes is not consistent. In the distillery section “alcoholic beverages” means bottles of liquor. In the bar section “alcoholic beverages” means mixed drinks. When there is so much uncertainty in the meanings of terms, any definitive “plain reading” is absurd.
  • The singing statement for HB309 states that tasting rooms were being established for, among other things, enable Alaskan distilleries to compete with low-cost imported goods. It also states that the restrictions on closing time, entertainments, and other things are explicitly there to prevent distillers from being de facto bars. Any competition to bars that we provide within our restrictions is simply business as intended.
  • Bar licenses can cost a lot, although not compared to setting up a distillery. All licenses are limited to a certain number depending on the population of the town they reside in. Bars appear to be worried that dozens of new distilleries could pop up and take all the bar business.
  • The Board got wound up on semantic issues because they let the AAG direct the discussion. Along the way it became impossible to actually focus on the real problem and real solutions to it.
  • The solution that they have found so far makes no one happy and solves nothing. My menu is messed up and a lot of my time is wasted. Bars haven’t stopped us from making cocktails. The various government entities are losing out on tax revenue.
  • The process would benefit from stepping back and getting a broad picture and trying to find a solution that does what people want.
  • I suggest a solution like this: That the State limit the number of distillery licenses to a number somewhat less than 1 in 3000. I can’t suggest an exact number. It would greatly reduce the rising threat that bar owners feel if they knew 10 more distilleries can’t pop up behind every corner. It wouldn’t be a deathblow to the budding distilling industry.



Vodka made by hand in Fairbanks, AK