EAST LANSING, Mich. — A new law allowing small distilleries to market and sell their products onsite is expected to bolster the state’s sagging economy, according to a Michigan State professor who played a key role in getting the legislation passed.
The law is based on 11 years of by research by Kris Berglund, University Distinguished Professor of forestry and chemical engineering. Microdistilleries are expected to add more than $400 million to Michigan’s economy, according to Rep. Barb Byrum, sponsor of the legislation.
“Before this law was passed, distillers could not sell their products by the bottle or by the glass on premises,” Berglund said. “Michigan now has the most producer-friendly law in the country. We’re expecting a number of entrepreneurs to start distilling businesses here.”
Berglund has been studying distilling processes and conducting how-to workshops since 1997, envisioning a bright future for microdistilleries that were similar to beer microbreweries. Berglund provided extensive background information to Byrum as she was crafting the bill and testified before both the House and Senate as they considered the legislation. Gov. Jennifer Granholm signed the bill into law earlier this month.
Public Act 218 creates a new license class that allows distilleries that manufacture less than 60,000 gallons a year to sell their goods onsite. The license costs $100 annually.
“The new law gives distillers more options,” Berglund said. “In the past, distillers could only sell their products through the liquor distribution system. Now they can set up retail operations onsite, much like breweries or wineries do.
“Distilleries are another piece of growing Michigan’s bioeconomy,” Berglund continued. “We’re taking renewable resources and turning them into a high-value, high-quality product.”