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So, we hear the term “control state” all the time. Well, I do. What in the world does that mean? How do the laws differ for breweries, wineries, and distilleries? Don’t all states place controls, through laws, on the spirits industry? How long can the Blue Jackets suck?

Well here goes. This is a detailed topic with many nuances, but the gist is this…. Ohio and 17 other states have a monopoly on the spirits industry. Period. The Government of each state makes the money and control whom they let make some money. They decide who can play in the game. They can decide who can and who cannot sell and produce in their state. Sometimes with reasons other than money. (?!)

Let’s narrow this topic a bit by talking about one state only. Ohio. I have a bit of an intimacy with Ohio Liquor Laws. It’s odd, I know, but I enjoy reading “Ohio Liquor Laws and Rules”. I have every edition of the book since 1996. It is printed annually. For the record, I am not a lawyer; I am a brewer/distiller. I like rules though, ask my kids. I must state that I have recently watched Ken Burn’s “Prohibition” which has caused me to start probing into earlier years of our liquor laws, more on that in a later blog though. With this said, I am no historian, I am speaking of present-day laws and rules, without putting the past into the context as to why things are as they are. That would take much more time, mine and yours, yours and mine.

In Ohio, even though Dancing Tree Distillery is a fully licensed distillery, we still have to chat with the top two dogs in the state to be allowed to bring any new product to the market. This is one aspect of a “control state.” This meeting is called a Listing Presentation and consists of an explanation to the Superintendent of the Division of Liquor Control and the Chief of Agency Operations why we feel we should be allowed to sell our Ohio produced product in the state of Ohio.

We present our marketing and advertising plan for this product to them so they may decide if it is worthy of being for sale in our fair state.

Note: This blog post originally appeared on the website of Dancing Tree Distillery, which became Fifth Element Spirits, and has now become West End Ciderworks & Distillery.

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