Liquor Laws

Do Local Distilleries Support I-1183?

A sampling of answers from spirit makers around Washington.

October 6, 2011

A test still at Sun Liquor distillery

Photo: Jessica Voelker

As part of an upcoming project, Seattle Met intern Brian Colella and I asked licensed Washington distilleries about their opinions regarding the Costco-backed liquor privatization measure I-1183, upon which Washingtonians will vote this November.

Many distilleries mentioned their concern about the initiative’s stipulation that a retailer "must have ten thousand square feet or more of fully enclosed retail space within a single structure in order to get a license to sell liquor, with limited exceptions."

We asked the distillers: "Do you or would you support liquor privatization initiative 1183?" (Anonymity was promised).

Here is a sampling of their answers:

"The 10,000 square foot rule is the main problem with this initiative."

"I’m ambivalent. One downside is the 10,000 square foot minimum retail license rule who prohibit any small new specialty liquor stores from being able to open. More so than grocery stores, it’s the specialty stores that will be interested in stocking our product."

"Clearly this initiative is not to allow privatization for the sake of getting the state out of the business, but….to allow a few private big fish to take over."

" …much of the advertising against the initiative is based on red herrings about teen access to alcohol rather than the real issues. The actual proposal is more about who controls and profits from sales, and this measure differs from last year’s in having more language about alcohol law enforcement and about ensuring state revenues. However, the 10,000 square foot requirement is odd on its face…."

"We are undecided at this time."

"I’d rather see the current system restructured as opposed to putting the distribution into the hands of a few private entities. Tiny distilleries aren’t likely to have the same access that they currently enjoy through the WSLCB."

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