Maine State Liquor Commission Votes to Leave 50 ml Nips in Stores
The nip and tuck battle between Maine legislators and the state’s governor over 50ml liquor bottles has ended.
Back in 1978, the state of Maine enacted the Maine Returnable Beverage Container or Bottle Bill program to help eliminate litter and clean up the streets. At that time, the bill for returnable’s started with bottles larger than 50ml. Well, things have changed in the last 39 years and the 50 ml liquor bottle, commonly called Nips, has become very popular. So popular that the states liquor stores sold some 8.4 million nips last year and that number is expected to climb to 12 million in 2017.
In an effort to update the law and reduce litter, the state legislature proposed a bill to require a deposit on Nips. Originally $.15 just like other larger liquor bottles the price was negotiated down to $.05. That bill passed but was eventually vetoed by Governor Paul R. Lepage. Lepage said the legislature didn’t account for the nearly $1 million per year it would cost the state to handle the 50ml bottles. He warned that if they overrode his veto he would have the bottles banned from state controlled liquor stores. The veto was overridden and a hearing was set for July 11 to remove 50ml bottles from liquor store shelves.
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50 ml Bottles Represent 15% of Sazerac Sales in the State
Sazerac Co. CEO Mark Brown told the states Senate president last month that 50 ml bottles now account for some 15% of Sazerac sales in the state. In addition to sales, Sazerac has a bottling facility in Maine and a reduction in sales could mean a reduction in jobs at their Lewiston-based bottler Boston Brands facility.
Commission Votes to Save the Nips
In a 4 to 1 vote on July 11, 2017 the State Liquor and Lottery Commission voted to keep the 50-milliliter bottles on the shelves.
New Law Takes Effect in January 2019
The new law won’t take effect until January 2019 in order to give distilled spirits makers, retailers and recycling facilities time to make changes to sell and handle the 50ml bottles.