Gov. Whitmer signs bills benefitting Michigan craft distillers

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer today signed legislation making business and distribution easier for the state's craft spirit makers. 

It cuts red tape for Michigan-based craft distilleries and retailers where ready-to-drink cocktails (also know as "canned cocktails") are concerned. These types of beverages have been growing in popularity, particularly during the pandemic. 

Monday Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed four bills aimed to help the state's craft spirit industry.

Spirit makers can increase the alcohol by volume percentage of canned cocktails from 10% to 13.5% so long as they are packaged in a can less than 24-ounces. The bills also reduce the tax on mixed spirits from $0.48 per liter to $0.30 per liter. 

“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,” said Jon O’Connor, co-founder of Long Road Distillers and Michigan Craft Distillers Association President. “We believe this is the beginning of continued and expanded support for future efforts related to enhancing opportunities for Michigan Small Distillers.”

The bills also allow qualified small distillers to self-distribute up to 3,000 gallons per year of product directly to retailers (of product not listed in the Michigan Liquor Control Commission's ADA Price Book). Business that are designated as Mixed Spirit Manufacturers can self distribute up to 31,000 gallons directly to retailers. 

Whitmer signed the bill at O'Connor's Long Road Distillers in Grand Rapids, surrounded by the business owners and lawmakers who sponsored the bills. 

She noted the importance the legislation would have for Michigan’s distillery businesses and thanked distillers who had helped make hand sanitizer when it was in short supply at the peak of the pandemic. 

"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 Whitmer in a media alert. “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.”

Twitter: @melodybaetens

Staff writer Beth LeBlanc contributed