Photo via Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits Facebook
Assembly member Nancy Skinner’s legislation allowing distilleries producing artisan spirits like bourbon, whiskey and fruit-based liqueurs to offer paid tastings was signed into law today. The Taste California Act, Assembly Bill 933, goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2014. The Coachella Valley’s two Assembly members – Democrat V. Manuel Perez and Republican Brian Nestande – both supported AB 933 when it passed the Legislature earlier this month.
A massive victory against current tied-house laws, AB 933 allows manufacturers of distilled spirits and brandy to sell up to six one-quarter ounce tastings of their products. Current law states that while distilleries are allowed to offer free samples, they are not allowed to sell tastings. AB 933 reforms this allowing distillery tasting rooms to operate somewhat like brewery and winery tasting rooms (with some restrictions). This is just another reform of the many Prohibition-era legislation inflicted on the liquor industry, something both the beer and wine industry have battled before.
Distilleries throughout California like Ballast Point Spirits (the same company that produces beer by the same name) in San Diego and Stillwater Spirits (NorCal’s multi-colored bottled producer of gin, vodka and you name it) located in Petaluma may now offer tastings for sale to its visitors.