What a long strange trip it’s been. What started as a small Tiki Bar a couple blocks from the beach in 1988 has turned into a multi-faceted entertainment complex featuring a restaurant, bar, nightclub and hotel. A couple years ago Leighton Moore, Founder of Seacrets of Ocean City, Maryland decided he wanted to add his own brand of craft spirits to his offerings. In order to get up and running quickly, he contracted with an existing distillery to create a unique line of alcoholic beverages under the Seacrets brand.
In May 2014, in a partnership with Delaware Distilling Company in Rehoboth, Seacrets launched its first line of all-natural, craft distilled spirits which includes spiced rum, coconut rum, white rum, gin, vodka, blood orange vodka, grapefruit vodka, lemon vodka, American whiskey and bourbon. Seacrets Spirits are served as the “house pour” at Seacrets Bar & Restaurant and sold in liquor stores and served in bars & restaurants throughout Maryland, Delaware and Washington D.C.
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Success Leads to First Ever Micro Distillery in Maryland
The success of the Seacrets branded spirits convinced serial entrepreneur Moore it was time to start his own distillery. Before his latest dream could become a reality, he had to convince Maryland law makers to change state laws that would allow him to run a distillery from his restaurant. In the spring of 2015 Moore worked with his legislators to create a new law establishing the Class 9 limited distillery license. House Bill 689, introduced by Delegate Mary Beth Carozza, and Senate Bill 523, introduced by Senator Jim Mathias, sailed through their respective chambers with unanimous votes. In mid-March 2015, the House approved the bill, 137-0. Soon thereafter the Senate approved its version of the bill with a 47-0 vote which was soon put into law with the governor’s signature.
Micro Law for Micro Distillery Has Big Impact
This unique law is only good for a licensed micro-distillery in Worcester County, MD. Here are the highlights of what a bar or tavern owner must do to start their own micro distillery.
- To be eligible for a micro-distillery license, you have to already have a Class D license to sell beer, wine and spirits in Worcester County. This is the type of license that bars, pubs, taverns and nightclubs have.
- You can only set up the micro-distillery operation at the same place where you’re already selling alcohol.
- You can conduct guided tours, tastings and other enhanced visitor experiences.
- You may serve not more than three samples of products manufactured at the licensed premises, with each sample consisting of not more than one-half ounce from a single product, to persons who are of legal drinking age who have participated in a guided tour and are present in the portion of the premises used for the limited distillery operation.
- Annual alcohol production is limited to 100,000 gallons of brandy, rum, whiskey, alcohol, and neutral spirits each calendar year
- You can’t distill for anyone else.
Fast Forward to Today – Seacrets Distilling Grand Opening & Ribbon Cutting
Seacrets Distilling Company and The Greater Ocean City Chamber of Commerce will host a Grand Opening & Ribbon Cutting Ceremony on Wednesday, June 29, 2016 at 2PM. You can check on the distilleries progress yourself via the Seacrets Dsitillery live web cam here.
Founder Leighton Moore says, “The new distillery will be the first in Worcester County since prohibition and also Maryland’s first Class 9 limited-licensed distillery that is part of a food & beverage establishment. The Grand Opening & Ribbon Cutting will be attended by local and state officials, including Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, Senator Jim Mathias, Mayor Rick Meehan and Delegate Mary Beth Carozza.”
The 12,000 square foot distillery sits on 49th Street in Ocean City, Maryland, beside Seacrets’ Morley Hall Nite Club, and will offer an all-new attraction to the Seacrets complex, offering guided tours daily. Everything from the décor to the tour guides attire features a Prohibition-era motif. During the guided tour, guests will follow the entire distilling process, taking the journey from grain to bottle. The final stop on the tour is the speakeasy tasting room, where tour guests are allowed to taste and purchase Seacrets products.
The exterior esthetics of the building are made of brick, exposed steel and the face of the building consisting of mostly glass, allowing for the public to view the operation from the outside. The distilling operation will take place on the first floor. A mezzanine will serve as the second floor where a tasting room and gift shop will also be located.
Moore founded Seacrets Bar & Restaurant on June, 29, 1988 and has continued to expand from a small tiki bar to the entertainment complex it is today, featuring 19 bars and six stages, a radio station and package goods store. With the opening of Seacrets Distillery, Moore hopes to bring new jobs and increased tourism to Worcester County.
The official groundbreaking for the Seacrets Distillery took place October 26, 2015 where local and state officials along with investment and development partners joined owner and founder Leighton Moore. Pictured in the photograph below from left to right are Founder Leighton Moore, Maryland Delegate Mary Beth Carozza, Rebecca Moore, Senator Jim Mathias, Project Architect Keith Iott, Project Manager Rob Tinus, Seacrets General Manager Scott Studs, Seacrets Vice President and CFO Gary Figgs, Seacrets Assistant General Manager DJ Shirk.