Craft distillery operators want to be included in New Jersey’s liquor license overhaul

As lawmakers and Gov. Phil Murphy get ready to overhaul New Jersey’s liquor laws, craft distilleries say that they need relief from burdensome regulations and high state taxes.

News 12 Staff

Jan 18, 2023, 12:46 AM

Updated 545 days ago

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As lawmakers and Gov. Phil Murphy get ready to overhaul New Jersey’s liquor laws, craft distilleries say that they need relief from burdensome regulations and high state taxes.
Murphy has previously said that he wants to remove outdated rules for the distilleries. But the owners say that they want to have a say in what these changes entail.
“A lot of things get done behind closed doors. We don't want those closed doors in this case,” says John Granata, of Jersey Spirits.
Jersey Spirits is a craft distillery located in Fairfield. Granta says that New Jersey’s antiquated liquor regulations are hurting the industry.
“It’s crushing, it’s absolutely crushing…We’re getting squeezed,” he says.
Under the current laws, Granata is only allowed to sell 5 liters of alcohol per customer. He is not allowed to sell food in his tasting room or make home deliveries.
He says that the taxes are high as well. There is a 12-cent tax per gallon for beer. But the rate is $5.50 per gallon of liquor.
“That’s 45 times – over 45 times the rate of what beer pays,” Granata says.
The governor vowed to modernize New Jersey’s liquor laws during his State of the State address last week – including loosening the restrictions on craft distilleries.
But Granata and other operators say they are worried they will be locked out of the political discussions.
“We’ve been stomped already. It’s been challenging,” he says.
Murphy's office declined to comment on the issue. Lawmakers are still working on the specifics of the overhaul.


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