The move is part of a larger effort to foster more local craft beverage production.
America’s craft alcoholic beverage industry—craft beer, cider, wine and spirits—has seen tremendous growth in recent years, and though many states have made changes to their laws to help foster the industry’s development, New York has proven to be especially ahead of the curve, in part thanks to the state’s “farm” laws. In an effort to create broader economic growth (beyond just alcohol production), New York created “farm” licenses that essentially make selling alcoholic beverages easier so long as these producers use a certain percentage of ingredients grown within the state. Additionally, these farm breweries, cideries and wineries could also benefit each other by serving products from the state’s other farm breweries, cideries, wineries and distilleries. If you noticed that distilleries aren’t mentioned in that first list, you’re not alone, and New York recently agreed to fix that discrepancy.
Previously, New York farm distilleries were conspicuously absent when it came to being able to serve other alcoholic beverage that are “New York State-labelled”—meaning they were produced under a “farm” license. Accepting that excluding distilleries from this group was unfair, this week, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation that finally brought farm distilleries in line with the rest of the bunch. “This measure restores parity for New York’s burgeoning craft beverage industry and allows for new revenue streams and exposure for the great brewers, distillers, and wine and cider makers all across this great state,” Governor Cuomo said in a statement. “As I’ve said many times, when New Yorkers buy New York-made products, everybody wins.”
John Curtin, co-founder and co-owner of the Albany Distilling Company and vice president of the New York State Distillers Guild, also explained the importance of this new law in a press release. “For us at Albany Distilling, we’ve made significant investments in anticipation of the passage of this bill, including a new tasting room and production facility,” he said. “We can proudly serve our spirits alongside fellow New York-produced beer, wine, and cider by the glass.”
Granted, New York’s ability to foster craft beverage development is based on its own unique set of circumstances. Some state’s alcohol laws weren’t as restrictive as New York’s to begin with, meaning creating this sort of unique license wasn’t necessary. Additionally, not all states have the unique growing conditions New York farmers face where growing barley and hops needs to be incentivized. Still, working with what it has, New York has been surprisingly nimble in recent years to help support the state’s boozy aspirations. And as a result, other states like Virginia and Maryland have passed similar legislation. In fact, Connecticut just passed a farm brewery law earlier this month, meaning more Americans are able to say "cheers" to these new laws with glass filled with something little more local.