While it was Dry Fly Distilleries that led the way and agreements with the Washington State Liquor Control Board to relax the regulations that prevented small distilleries from directly selling their products to the end consumer, the approval of Initiative 1183 opens up new possibilities for alcohol production becoming a bona-fide cottage industry.
From March 1, craft distillers of Washington would be allowed to sell directly to food establishments like hotels and restaurants. From June 1, local small scale distillers can put their products on shelves at approved private retail stores.
The privatization of selling alcohol by small craftsmen will lead to radical changes in the industry. Already, since 2008, when Dry Fly began its private marketing forty craft distillery licenses have been issued within Washington state. The Bellingham Herald has reported another 18 licenses to be pending with the authorities.
Small distilleries are ready to start full-scale production including local vodka, gin, and moonshine. Three distilleries, the Mount Baker Distillery, Chuckanut Bay Distillery and the BelleWood Distilling are set to start immediate production of local liquor.
At least two of the three new distilleries are considering vodka as their initial product. Chuckanut Bay Distillery’s co-owner Matt Howell, told the media that in craft distilling, “There’s a lot of room for creativity… By being small, it’s a process you can control, which means a higher-quality product.”
The Mount Baker Distillery on the other hand is considering moonshine as one of its premiere offerings as the great-great grandfather of the owner was a known local moonshiner.
BelleWood, though would be toeing a different line. In spite of vodka being one of its initial offerings due to faster turnaround, it will also produce brandy, hard cider and whiskey, and apples would play a role in many of its products.
It is expected that with the local craftsman getting ready to contribute their recipes in a constructive manner, there would be a minor increase in employment and a major lift in spirits in Washington.