A bill to reform New Jersey’s Prohibition-era distilling laws is as good as signed into law today after the Senate unanimously passed it this afternoon. With a vote of 38-0, senators follow their Assembly colleagues (who overwhelmingly passed it on Monday), in approving a bill that creates the state’s first craft distillery license, dramatically lowers licensing fees for small distillers and allows them to offer tours, samples and purchases for consumption on and off-premise at their facilities.
Camden Sen. Don Norcross co-sponsored the bill. In a statement, he said, “New Jersey’s antiquated liquor laws make it incredibly hard for small-scale distilling operations to do business in the state. … This will support economic development in the state and tourism, while creating new local jobs.”
One of Norcross’ constituents, James Yoakum, is waiting for the city of Camden to finalize its approval for him to seek a state license, though he doesn’t plan to build a tasting room in the first year. One craft distillery opened in North Jersey several months ago, and several business owners have stated their intentions to do the same, once the law goes into effect.
Under the current system, entrepreneurs seeking to distill in-state must pay $12,500 for an annual operating license. Once it’s signed, the law will reduce those fees to less than $1000. In addition, a distiller who sources at least 51% of the company’s raw ingredients in New Jersey can be labeled as “New Jersey Distilled.”