Governor Whitmer Signs Bills Benefitting Michigan Craft Distillers

The Michigan Craft Distillers Association (MCDA) is proud to share that on Monday, May 24, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed four bills benefitting Michigan craft distillers. She was joined by the sponsors of these bills (SB 141, 142, 143 and 144) Senator Curt VanderWall, Senator Wayne Schmidt, Senator Jeremy Moss and Senator Winnie Brinks. Executive Board members of the MCDA and leadership of the Michigan Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association were also in attendance at the signing was held at Long Road Distillers in Grand Rapids.

“We thank the Governor and the bi-partisan efforts in both the House and Senate for recognizing the importance of the craft distilling industry in Michigan as well as the need to make these changes which create new opportunities to get products to market,” says Jon O’Connor, co-founder of Long Road Distillers and MCDA President. “We believe this is the beginning of continued and expanded support for future efforts related to enhancing opportunities for Michigan Small Distillers.”

  • SB 141: Allows as Qualified Small Distillers to self-distribute up to 3,000 gallons per year of product direct to retailers of any product not listed in the ADA Price Book. Also allows qualified retailers to ship directly to consumers.
  • SB 142: Allows a Mixed Spirit Manufacturer the ability to self-distribute up to up to 31,000 gallons of mixed spirit drinks directly to retailers.
  • SB 143: Updates code related to branded logo merchandise.
  • SB 144: Will expand definition of Mixed Spirit Drink to allow ABV% to increase from 10 to 13.5% ABV as long as it is packaged in a metal container (can) of less than 24oz. It also reduces the tax on mixed spirits from $0.48 per liter to $0.30 per liter. It also expands the retailers who can sell Mixed Spirits to allow all retail license types to sell them, not just SDD as is the current law.

This is a great example of bipartisan legislation that will create jobs and help our small businesses grow, and shows what we can do when we work together,” said Governor Whitmer. “Distillers are a growing industry in Michigan, and these bill make it easier for distillers to distribute their products. These bills will make canned mixed spirits more affordable and accessible, creating jobs and helping Michigan small businesses.”  

Beyond this package of bills, on May 13 Representative Patrick Outman introduced HB 4842. He was able to secure 28 co-sponsors, a bi-partisan effort from legislators throughout Michigan. This bill would lower the markup charged by the state of Michigan to Small Distillers who utilize Michigan grown agriculture as the base for their distilled spirits products.

“The markup charged by the state of Michigan for distilled spirits products unfairly and negatively impacts the ability of Michigan Small Distillers to get products to market,” O’Connor notes. “This bill has seen tremendous bi-partisan support in sessions past. We believe that given the recognition of the need to support craft distilling by legislators and the Governor, this bill will be enthusiastically supported as it is taken up in Lansing.”

The Michigan Craft Distillers Association was formed in October 2014 as a non-profit organization charged with marketing the individual member businesses, their products and events, but also help bring a voice for the industry when it comes to legislative issues that affect the overall beverage industry.

MCDA currently represents 30 craft distilleries with nearly 50 unique tasting room locations around the state, as well as a handful of distillery in-planning members and nearly 30 allied members providing goods and services. Michigan’s craft distilling industry is growing at a rapid pace – ranking #9 in the nation in terms of overall number of distilleries according to annual data compiled by the American Craft Spirits Association.