Manufacturers of distilled spirits in Florida are regulated by the State of Florida and the federal government. This post discusses the state-level licensing of distilleries in Florida.
Florida Craft Distilleries Need the Right License
The Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverage and Tobacco (ABT) is authorized to issue separate licenses for manufacturers engaged in distilling spirits and manufacturers engaged solely in rectifying or blending distilled spirits. A DD license is required for distilling spirits directly, but the holder of a DD license may also rectify or blend distilled spirits. An ERB license is intended for manufacturers that will only be rectifying or blending spirits manufactured by a separate distillery.
To get a DD license or an ERB license, a Florida manufacturer must file the Application for New Alcoholic Beverage License (DBPR Form ABT-6001) with the ABT. The ABT application requires detailed information about the manufacturer’s premises, as well as everyone who has financial interest in the manufacturer. The license tax for either a DD license or an ERB license is currently the same price at $4,000. Because the DD license permits the manufacturer to distill spirits and also rectify or blend distilled spirits at no additional license tax, in most cases a manufacturer should obtain a DD license.
A licensed distillery may only distill spirits up to 153 proof (76.5% ABV) for sale in Florida. Spirits of 153 proof or greater may be distilled in Florida but only for sales outside the state.
A Craft Distillery Can Make Direct Sales to Consumers
In 2013, Florida Legislature authorized Florida distilleries that annually produce less than 75,000 gallons of spirits to be designated as craft distilleries. The craft distillery designation provides an important exemption from Florida’s relatively strict three-tier system, the goal of which is to keep alcoholic beverage manufacturers, distributors, and retailers separate. Florida’s Tied House Evil Statute generally prohibits a distillery from participating in any retail operation. Before July 1, 2013, Florida distilleries could not sell spirits directly to the public. Today, a designated craft distillery is permitted to sell spirits at its own gift shop.
A distillery must notify the ABT of its decision to qualify as a craft distillery, according to Florida Statutes Section 565.03(2). The ABT must approve a sketch or diagram showing the location of the distillery’s gift shop. A craft distillery gift shop may sell no more than 6 sealed bottles per brand to each distillery visitor per year. A craft distillery must keep a record of purchasers from its gift shop. A visitor to a distillery gift shop can take purchased bottles directly, or the distillery can arrange to ship the bottles to the purchaser.
Other than Tastings, No Consumption at the Distillery
Unlike brewery taprooms and brewpubs, a licensed distillery cannot sell its spirits for consumption on premises. On-premises consumption of liquor requires a quota license in Florida, the Tied House Evil Statute prohibits the ABT from issuing a quota license to a licensed distillery.
A designated craft distillery is permitted to offer tastings of its spirits at the distillery. Tastings can also be conducted by licensed distributors and retailers, according to Florida Statutes Section 565.17. Such tastings must be directed only to members of the general public who are 21 years or older.
Do you have any questions about licensing a distillery in Florida or any other legal questions about starting up or operating a licensed distillery? We’re happy to help. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.