A bill that would have allowed customers to sample hard liquor at a Utah distillery received a legislative hearing on Wednesday — but not a vote.
State law already allows customers to sample products made at Utah wineries and breweries. HB352, sponsored by Rep. Gage Froerer, R-Huntsville, would have allowed samples at distilleries, too.
"There is no provision [in statute] for distilleries, probably because there were no distilleries when the law was created," Froerer told members of the House Business and Labor Committee.
HB352 also directed the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (UDABC) to create rules that would better define sample size and pouring requirements for all the alcohol producers.
During discussion, several lawmakers expressed concern about a variety of alcohol issues, from selling alcohol around minors to giving away free booze. The discussion even branched into parts of other alcohol laws that the lawmakers found confusing and thought needed revising.
"I’m not understanding the current laws," admitted Rep. Jim Dunnigan, R-Taylorsville. "I thought I understood this, but now I’m not so sure."
Added Rep. Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, with a laugh: "I’m not a drinker, but after this session I may be."
The panel voted 9-6 to simply move on to the next agenda item.
The move frustrated Steve Conlin, owner of Ogden’s Own Distillery. He said he loses business because he is not able to let customers sample vodka and others spirits before they buy.
"All I’m asking for is equal treatment," he said.
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