When I helped found my craft distillery in Brooklyn in 2011, there were fewer than 100 distilleries in the entire country. In the years since, consumer interest in locally made spirits has boomed, with craft distilleries now numbering more than 2,000 nationwide. But the laws governing our industry have yet to catch up with this explosive growth. Among the most damaging examples has been our inability to sell bottles online and ship them directly to customers.
When the pandemic hit, causing bars and restaurants to shutter, my business lost roughly 70% of our sales. We had to close our tasting room and stop tours of our facility, which were critical revenue streams supporting nearly half our staff. This left us few options to reach customers — until our state, like many others, temporarily allowed distilleries to sell bottles online and ship them to in-state consumers.
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