Virginia ABC celebrates the commonwealth’s growing number of distilleries and commends you for calling attention to this trend in “The Hard Stuff.” As both a regulator and retailer of distilled spirits, Virginia ABC plays an integral role in this industry and has a responsibility to help these Virginia businesses succeed.
While we were not asked for comment in this recent article, I do offer the following to enhance your readers’ understanding of Virginia ABC as it relates to specific points covered in the story.
Your article says it takes 18 months to get a distillery license, but that is not accurate. Once a distiller submits a completed Virginia ABC application and required documentation, there is a site inspection and only a 30-day requirement for posting a public notice to allow for objections to the distilling license. Once 30 days has passed without objections, Virginia ABC will issue the license.
Virginia ABC reviews new products on a quarterly basis and gives preference to products that are made or distilled in Virginia. Most Virginia-made products do start as fully listed products in 100 stores, not special order products. Whether or not a distiller can provide enough product for 100 stores, Virginia ABC provides sales analysis and works with producers to determine a store distribution plan that best suits their needs.
Once a Virginia product is listed in our stores, we make special efforts to identify it with Virginia’s Finest or Virginia Made shelf tags. Some of our stores also have a designated section that allows consumers to shop specifically for spirits made here in the commonwealth. Our new website also has a dedicated “Virginia Products” page.
Virginia ABC has taken great strides in the past few years to modernize its processes and make it easier and more accessible to new distilleries. This year, Virginia ABC-sponsored legislation will allow any distillery to open a store in Virginia. A second bill allows distilleries to offer tastings of beer, wine and spirits on their licensed premises if the products are produced there. These changes in the law will grow Virginia’s spirits industry and encourage sales and tourism.
Virginia ABC is committed to working with Virginia distillers to help them achieve business stability and success. It is our goal to be both responsible and responsive in our dual roles as retailer and regulator, seeking to meet the needs of all of our stakeholders.
Chief Operating Officer
Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control