OLYMPIA – It should be a sin to drink gin straight up. At the very least, it shouldn’t be the only way to legally sample it. But right now, Washington distilleries have to serve it that way. The same goes for vodka, bourbon, whiskey and any other spirit distilled in Washington.
Yesterday the House Commerce and Gaming Committee held a public hearing on House Bill 1903, a bill by Rep. Strom Peterson (D – Edmonds) that would allow Washington distilleries to serve mixers in their tasting rooms. Under current law, they are only legally allowed to serve samples of their product straight up, cut with water or on the rocks. Peterson’s legislation would add soda, tonic, ginger ale and other common mixers to that list.
“Washington has become the hot place to open up a specialty distillery,” Peterson said. “Sales of locally-distilled spirits boost the economy and provide important revenue for the state. In order to support this growing industry, we should allow them to showcase their products in the way they are intended to be enjoyed.”
Supporting Washington distilleries also supports Washington farmers, who produce the wheat, corn, potatoes, fruit, and other agricultural products that are used to distill spirits and liqueurs. For instance, craft distillers who are exempt from distiller’s licensing fees are required to use Washington-grown products for at least half of their materials.
HB 1903 would not change the amount of liquor served in distillery tasting rooms – it would still be limited to two fluid ounces per guest. But Peterson believes this new law would encourage ever safer consumption of distillery samples.
“This will allow a more relaxed atmosphere where guests can sip their samples instead of having to drink it like a shot,” Peterson said.