Onyx Spirits looks to change state liquor laws - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Onyx Spirits looks to change state liquor laws


East Hartford's Onyx Spirits Company announced that it is working alongside Connecticut state legislators to change a Connecticut liquor law.

The new statute would allow the company, famous for its Moonshine, to offer tastings of the Connecticut-made liquor on the premises of their East Hartford-based distillery.

As it stands, the state liquor regulations allow for on-premise product sampling if the producer is a winery or brewery, but there are currently no stipulations that allow for the tasting of spirits made in the state.

"To be competitive with surrounding states, we need to update our laws to allow for customers and visitors to our distillery to taste our Moonshine when they're here," says Onyx Spirits Co. co-founder Adam von Gootkin. "We'd like to invite both the people of Connecticut and visitors to the state to see how Onyx Moonshine is made, and they want to be able to taste it during their visit. Hopefully, they'll then buy a bottle at one of Connecticut's liquor stores. It's a win for the state, for the people, for our customers and for our small company."

The bill, HB 6211, was sponsored by multiple state representatives and senators. It has been approved by the General Law committee, but must pass through the state House of Representatives and Senate before it can be presented to Gov. Dannel Malloy for approval.

"It doesn't specifically say that you can't, but it doesn't say that you can," said Adam Von Gootkin of Onyx Spirit. "So when it doesn't say you can, they interpret that as you can't."

The proposal comes at a turbulent time for state liquor laws.

Onyx Spirit Company has vocally opposed a bill that would repeal the minimum pricing laws in the state, which would prevent products such as Onyx Moonshine and other craft spirits from being made available in many package stores across Connecticut.

Gootkin said his facility has enough room to have a tasting room and an exhibit to commemorate Connecticut's history during prohibition.

"We're just waiting for the green light," he said. "It would be challenging to justify the expense without knowing that the state will stand behind us."

Onyx Moonshine was the official spirit of the 2012 Grammy Awards and is currently only for sale in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

"We still have a pretty old fashioned way of doing things, we bottle each bottle by hand," Gootkin said. "We label each bottle by hand. We taste every batch."

Gootkin said the company sold about 30,000 bottles and is expecting to do between 50,000 and 60,000 this year.

For more information about Onyx, click here.

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