August 2021 Distilling News: Florida Changes it’s Tasting Room Laws

On July 1st there were some very significant changes made to regulations governing craft distilleries in Florida. SB 46, aka the Craft Distilleries Act, will likely have a significant impact on the way most distilleries in the state operate, anyone involved in this industry should be aware of the changes. Before we dive into the particulars, it’s important to know that we are not lawyers and this is not intended to be legal advice. Please double-check everything outlined in this article with your legal counsel and/or local authorities to make sure you are in compliance.

Cocktails Now Allowed In Florida Distillery Tasting Rooms

One of the most exciting changes made by SB 46 is the change to the tasting room laws. Cocktails are now allowed in distillery tasting rooms! Distillers had previously been allowed to provide their spirits for tastings but now they can offer mixed drinks and cocktails to make their spirits more approachable for a wider audience. In addition to allowing sales of cocktails in the tasting room, the new law allows distilleries to apply for permits to sell spirits at “Florida fairs, trade shows, farmers markets, expositions, and festivals.” This could also be a great excuse for breweries with existing taprooms to get started distilling spirits to be able to serve craft cocktails or their own house-made boilermakers.

The limits on how much a distillery can produce and be considered craft have changed as well. Limits on how much a distillery can sell and still be considered craft have been raised from 75,000 gallons to 250,000, however, a distillery will only be able to sell 75,000 gallons from their tasting rooms or gift shops. There is also a minimum requirement that each craft distillery must produce at least 50,000 gallons of branded products, “by distilling, rectifying, or blending by the craft distillery on its licensed premises” each calendar year.

Another major change is that Florida distilleries can qualify as craft distilleries under the new law even if they are not distilling their spirits on-site. In order to qualify under the craft designation, the distillery must be distilling, rectifying, or blending their spirits on-site. This allows a wider range of producers to operate under a craft designation.

Distilleries will also have to keep records of all alcoholic beverages received within or outside of Florida for three years. Those records will likely be important since distilleries will be required to have 60% of all branded final products produced in Florida by July 1st, 2026, and have at least one Florida agricultural product(s) used when making the product. “Agricultural product” is not defined directly in the law so there will likely be some clarification or challenge to this aspect at some point in the future.

These are the major changes that stood out to us but there are several aspects of the bill that may have effects we’re not going to recognize until the bill has been around for a while. Overall this bill is a wonderful chance to the regulations in the craft spirits industry in the state of Florida and will hopefully be a big help to the entire industry after all the challenges in the past year. If you’d like to learn more about getting into the craft distilling industry or expanding your current operation give us a call at 561-845-8009 and we’d be happy to help!