At the St. Mary’s alcohol beverage board meeting last Thursday, members approved new language that would allow distilleries to distribute mixed drinks with their own liquor, so long as the St. Mary’s County commissioners give their blessing to the new measure.
Regulations regarding Class 1 distillery permits were changed by the Maryland legislature during the legislative session earlier this year, allowing local liquor boards to issue permits to distilleries allowing them to sell mixed drinks that only contain liquor that is manufactured on the premises.
The new rule would not allow distilleries to serve drinks “neat” beyond the sample size of half an ounce, but Class 1 distilleries could serve mixed drinks provided that the distillery has proper amenities for bar service.
“‘This is state [legislation], that means counties around us will be more competitive than ours,” liquor board member David Willenborg said at last week’s meeting. “My concern is that since other counties can do this, it may make their local distilleries more competitive than ours.”
“I think we’re putting the cart before the horse in putting approval on this,” board member Leonard Kohl said. “If we approve of this, then it goes out of our hands completely.” Kohl was the single member of the board who casted a “nay” vote on the measure.
No other opposition to the measure appeared at the meeting last week. “If there’s any resistance, where are they?” Mark Denietolis, vice chairman, asked.
The measure will still need to go through several levels of legislation before being adopted. The resolution approved by the liquor board to create a new distillery license will now be sent to the county commissioners for a vote.
St. Mary’s County passed regulations allowing distilleries in 2011. Two distilleries, Tobacco Barn and Southern Trail Distillery, have appeared in the county since then.
Thompson now set to retire
The county liquor board inspector, Garland Thompson, on Thursday attended his last liquor board meeting. Thompson has served as the inspector for the past seven years, and his position will be filled by September of this year, according to the board.
At last week’s meeting, Thompson said that he was “leaving this job with more understanding and more knowledge of people.” His last official day as the inspector will be on Aug. 22.