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STICK TO THE

CODE

A CAUTIONARY TALE W R I TT E N BY S H AW N B E R G E R O N

O

ver the course of the past few months, we’ve had the opportunity to travel a bit. Wherever we go, we always make sure we visit with our old distillery friends and make new ones along the way. There’s no better way to sample fine spirits than to visit the locals, and we usually combine sampling with conversation about how things are in the distilling world. Interestingly our conversations almost always start with products, procedures, and markets but somehow the conversation usually comes around to the topic of regulations and regulators. A common theme has been developing. Everyone we talk to is asking a question along the lines of: When it comes to codes, standards and all this regulatory “stuff” who’s really in charge and for how long? In the last issue I had promised we’d be talking about alarm systems, and we will indeed visit this topic in the next edition, but this current topic is alarming, and I want to provide some guidance about how to proceed and some options that are available when the rules of your world suddenly

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change. Now remember, I’m not an attorney, and you always want to keep yours close, but I have dealt with regulations and regulators for three decades, which has provided on-the-job training. The owner of any business should try to determine which regulator is really in charge and then try to determine what they may be expecting of you. Rules change, regulators change, and the ones that have just arrived may not feel as warm and fuzzy about your business as the ones that had been here before. Don’t wake up in a cold sweat thinking about this, but pay attention to little signs around you and talk with others. Mishaps that are coming down on those around you may be a canary in your coal mine. What follows is a tale of woe that a client of mine is living through.

One of our distilleries has been at it for quite some time. Wonderful products, great marketing, and being in the right location has led to a level of success that most small distillers envy. Taking a paycheck every week

and a long vacation after Rules change, just a few years is enviable but this guy has done it! regulators Just a few months back from vacation his sunny days change, and became overcast as one of those “apparently should the ones that have dealt with this in the past” moments came to the have just front and center. Noticing that the rickhouse is getting arrived may chock full, my guy applies for a building permit for a new, not feel as slightly larger one. Permits have never been a problem, warm and submit the paperwork, pay the fees, answer a few minor fuzzy about questions and the permit arrives in the mail. It’s your business always been simple, but this time, things seemed a bit as the ones weird. His distillery is in a small rural area, one where that had been the local regulators are very supportive as they all enjoy here before. stopping by the tasting room (and the townsfolk enjoy the taxable real estate that he’s developed). From the perspective of building and fire codes, this little town has let the professionals at the state level deal with the permitting, which saves

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Artisan Spirit: Winter 2017  

The magazine for craft distillers and their fans.

Artisan Spirit: Winter 2017  

The magazine for craft distillers and their fans.