MARYLAND MARYLAND DISTILLERS GUILD Working in conjunction with the state of Maryland, the Maryland Distillers Guild is proud to launch the first annual Maryland Spirits Month this November. In partnership with the MD Office of Tourism, and sanctioned by the governor, the MDG will celebrate the manufacturing, cocktailing, and consumption of the incredible spirits distilled in our state throughout November. A number of promotional events, from a distillery festival
MONTANA MONTANA DISTILLERS GUILD The Montana Distillers Guild (MDG) has had an issue come up in the last several months that may reach beyond Montana's borders. The first is the State of Montana asking for individual formula blends of spirits, sold out of the tasting room, and releasing this information to the public. The DORABC (Department of Revenue Alcohol Beverage Commission) allegedly received a request from the Montana Tavern Association to obtain information regarding the percentage of individual spirits distilled on-site versus off-site, and how much of that is sold out of each tasting room. In other words, they asked for the individual proprietary blends of each spirit. The State of Montana allows a tasting room to serve and sell spirits, but the law specifically states that 90 percent of the aggregate proof gallons sold out of the tasting room must be distilled on-site (the state narrowly defines “produced” as “distilled”). To show compliance with this
to cross-brand in-store tastings, as well as educational cocktail classes for consumers, will occur throughout the month, along with on-premise collateral encouraging people to try Maryland-made spirits. Notable developments by our members include the opening of Old Line Spirits’ full cocktail bar, The Ready Room (Baltimore), and the impending launch of cocktail bars by Tenth Ward Distillery (Frederick) and Blackwater Distilling & Tavern (Stevensville). Additionally, The American Shochu Company (Frederick) is distilling shochu from authentic Japanese Koji in Maryland. Our first major educational seminar, “Nosing for Faults,” led by Nancy Fraley,
was held in Baltimore on October 23rd, and it was attended by distillers from MD, DC and DE. Legislative goals for 2018 include: creating a cocktail license for all distillers, expanding the off-site event opportunities (increasing the number of eligible farmers markets, fairs, festivals, etc.) and enabling our Class 9 Limited Distillery licensees to obtain full liquor licenses. The MDG currently has 47 members: 24 licensed distilleries, 6 distilleries in planning, and 17 affiliates.
law, each distillery must provide a quarterly report stating the aggregate proof gallons distilled on-site and sold from the tasting room. The MDG believes this should be sufficient information for the general public, since it is simply showing that distilleries are maintaining a requirement under the law. The MDG takes the stance that each individual formulation is proprietary information and is protected under both the federal and state Trade Secrets Act. The MDG has filed an intent to file suit against the DORABC in district court to protect this information. Thus far, the DORABC has been unable or unwilling to provide the specific email showing exactly what information was requested and when, and has been slow to respond to multiple requests for additional information. As a result, the MDG is considering also filing in federal court to protect the trade secrets of each individual formulation. This suit may very well bleed outside of the borders of Montana, and if it comes to filing in federal court, will set precedent for distilleries and tasting rooms across the nation. The ACSA has generously
offered to assist with anything they are able, and the MDG has also reached out to DISCUS with no response, although we suspect they will not involve themselves unless it does indeed go to federal court. I'm happy to discuss this case and matter further with anyone who has deeper questions than can be answered quickly here. Don't hesitate to reach out. In addition to the above, the MDG is gearing up for the legislative session, which begins in January 2019 and runs through mid-April. It is an exciting time and we expect to make great strides in our industry both on the protection side and the side of small business and commerce. We are holding our annual board and general membership meetings on November 4-5 at Fairmont Hot Springs and we will nail down the details of the bills we will be introducing. It will be great to see the whole membership in one spot again, and it is sure to be a productive time.
Jaime Windon Owner/Co-Founder | Lyon Distilling Co President | Maryland Distillers Guild
Robin Blazer World Headquarters Willie's Distillery, Inc.
The magazine for craft distillers and their fans.