Distilleries come in all shapes and sizes from farm, to craft to large. A farm distillery is typically an extension of an existing farm. According to the American Distilling Institute definition, “Farm distilleries typically produce spirits from grain, potatoes, fruit or sugarcane grown on their farm or brought from local farms. Many of these distilleries not only grow their own ingredients, they also harvest, store and grind them – all in preparation for their final product.”
Historically, having a distillery on a farm used to be common place for farmers looking to use every piece of grain, potato or fruit they produced. That all changed with the signing of Prohibition in 1919 that pretty much killed the farm distillery. Even with the repeal of prohibition in 1933 the farm distillery never made a comeback. The licensing cost to open a farm distillery has been prohibitive for farmers that were just looking to use up some extra grain.
Many states have started to change their laws to encourage in state trade. New York state has been a leader in this area to encourage commerce and make the farm to table local movement a reality. New York state lowered the annual distillery license fee from $12,000 to only $128 per year for a farm distillery. Here are a few key points in how New York state defines a farm distillery and what makes them unique.
- They have to produce less than 35,000 gallons per year
- They have to source 75% of all ingredients must be produced within New York State
- They can sell direct to consumers (DTC) by the glass in food or drinking establishments in or adjacent to their distillery
The ability for New York farm distilleries to sell a full glass of spirits direct to a consumer is a huge advantage. Most tourists visiting a distillery, farmer’s market, state or county fair are not looking to do straight shots. They want to mix their spirit with something else which up to this time, wasn’t a legal option. The ability to offer mixed drinks gives the farm distillery a real advantage. These sales need to be face to face, not online, not by mail and not by phone. This sampling process is really something that should change for all distillers if they hope to create a better customer experience for tourists.
And on the 8th day God looked down on his planned paradise and said, “I need a care taker, so God made a farmer.” ~ Paul Harvey Superbowl commercial
So God Made a Farmer…
Somebody who would bale a family together with the soft strong bonds of sharing, who would laugh and then sigh, and then reply, with smiling eyes, when his son says that he wants to spend his life doing what dad does. So God made a farmer.