Talbot council considers liquor code change

Rum goes through its initial distilling phase on Thursday, Jan. 23, at Lyon Distilling Company in St. Michaels. The Talbot County Council will hold a public hearing on proposed amendments to the Talbot County code at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 25, at the Talbot County Courthouse Bradley Meeting Room.

EASTON — Two amendments to Bill 1442 were proposed during the Talbot County Council meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 11.

Bill 1442 seeks to amend Chapter 11 of the Talbot County Code, the chapter pertaining to alcoholic beverages. The amendment would create a new license class, giving distilleries the option to serve their samples with nonalcoholic mixers.

As the law stands now, distilleries are licensed at the state-level to provide samples of their products to customers. They do not need further licensing at the county-level to offer the straight liquor samples. The state recently enacted legislation allowing distilleries to offer cocktail samples, but it has to be approved through the county.

Jaime Windon, CEO of Lyon Distilling Company in St. Michaels, is looking to expand her business services by offering samples to customers in ways they want to receive them, as samples of mixed drinks instead of room temperature shots.

“The goal of this is not to create bar-like atmospheres in distilleries,” Windon said. “It’s to create another way to sample the product.”

The new state legislation would no longer limit the amount of alcohol served to customers if it’s mixed in a cocktail. The two new amendments proposed would limit the amount of alcohol that distilleries are allowed to serve to customers wanting to sample their wares.

Talbot County Councilwoman Laura Price met with Windon and the county attorney to figure out how to best write this legislation. Together, they came up with the proposed amendments.

One amendment limits the amount of alcohol to 6oz. total, including the 2 ounces allowed as straight liquor samples. The other allows for up to 6 ounces of liquor in mixed cocktails and a further 2 ounces allowed in the straight samples.

Price said she feels like the amendments are a good compromise for Talbot County.

“The six ounces could be distributed how they choose,” she said. “Whether it’s a flight with six separate cocktail samples each with 1 ounce of liquor, or three cocktail samples with 2 ounces of liquor each.”

Price said the goal wasn’t to limit how Lyon Distilling Company does its business but to legislate for potential businesses that may open up down the road.

“We need to write legislation not just for the individual person or business that we know and trust to be good stewards in the community, but the unknown people or businesses that may come and not be as responsible,” she said.

The next public hearing is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 25, in the Bradley Meeting Room of the Talbot County Courthouse.

The Class K license would be available only to state-licensed distilleries and would be available only as long as the state license is valid.

St. Michaels is home to two distilleries. Gray Wolf Craft Distilling, owned by the husband-and-wife team of R.B. Wolfensberger and Meghan Brown, was launched from Lyon Distilling Company as a distillery within a distillery.

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