Wooden winemaking barrel 3d illustration

What can I do with my farm distillery license?

A class D distiller’s license, otherwise known as a farm distillery license, has a lot of benefits. A distiller’s license of any class shall not authorize more than one activity (distillery, a rectifying plant or a fruit brandy distillery), and a separate license shall be required for each such activity. The annual limit for manufacture is 75,000 gallons of liquor. In the case of the holder of a class A, A-1, B, B-1 or C distiller’s license who operates a farm distillery on the same premises, the liquor manufactured pursuant to the farm distillery license shall not be considered with respect to any limitation on the volume that may be manufactured by the class A, A-1, B, B-1 or C distillery.

The authority may issue a farm distillery license to the holder of a class A, A-1, B, B-1 or C distiller’s license, a winery license or a farm winery license for use at such licensee’s existing licensed premises. For the purposes of this chapter, the premises of the class A, A-1, B, B-1 or C distillery, winery or farm winery shall be considered the premises of the farm distillery. The holder of a farm distillery license that simultaneously holds a winery, farm winery or any class of a distiller’s license on the same premises may share and use the same tasting room facilities to conduct wine and liquor tastings that such licensee is otherwise authorized to conduct.

A New York class D distiller’s license allows the licensee:

  • To manufacture liquor primarily (75%) from NY farm and food products
  • To put such liquor into sealed containers of not more than one quart each 
  • To conduct upon the licensed premises, or at approved locations with a marketing permit, consumer tastings of liquor manufactured by the licensee and from no more than three other class A, A-1, B, B-1, C or D distilleries, subject to the following limitations: (i) Only liquor manufactured primarily from NY farm and food products (ii) An official agent, servant or employee of the licensee shall be physically present at all times during the conduct of the consumer tasting of liquor (iii) No consumer may be provided, directly or indirectly: (A) more than three samples of liquor for tasting in one calendar day; or (B) with a sample of liquor for tasting equal to more than one-quarter fluid ounce
  • To sell such liquor at wholesale and to licensed farm wineries, farm cideries, farm breweries and other farm distilleries, wholesale and retail licensees, and permittees
  • To sell at retail, for personal use, in sealed containers. Retail sales by a licensed farm distillery may be made only to customers who are physically present upon the licensed premises and such sale shall be concluded by the customer’s taking, with him or her, of the sealed containers purchased by the customer at the time the customer leaves the licensed premises. Such retail sales shall not be made where the order is placed by letter, telephone, fax or e-mail, or where the customer otherwise does not place the order while the customer is physically present upon the premises. Such retail sales shall not be made where the contemplated sale requires the licensee to transport or ship by common carrier, sealed containers of liquor to a customer.
  • To sell at retail for consumption on the licensed premises, any liquor manufactured by the licensee or any New York state labeled liquor. Provided, however, the licensee shall regularly keep food available for sale or service to its retail customers for consumption on the premises. A licensee providing the following shall be deemed in compliance with this provision: sandwiches, soups or other such foods, whether fresh, processed, pre-cooked or frozen; and/or food items intended to compliment the tasting of alcoholic beverages, which shall mean a diversified selection of food that is ordinarily consumed without the use of tableware and can be conveniently consumed while standing or walking, including but not limited to: cheese, fruits, vegetables, chocolates, breads, mustards and crackers. 
  • To operate a restaurant, hotel, catering establishment, or other food and drinking establishment in or adjacent to the licensed premises and sell at such place, at retail for consumption on the premises, liquor manufactured by the licensee and any New York state labeled liquor. 
  • To sell other alcoholic beverages at retail for consumption on the premises at such establishment with an additional on-premises license.
  • To sell in bulk, liquor manufactured by the licensee to a winery or farm winery licensee, or to the holder of a class A, A-1, B, B-1 or C distiller’s license
  • To conduct tastings and sell at retail for consumption on or off the premises New York state labelled beer manufactured by a licensed brewer or licensed farm brewery
  • To conduct tastings of and sell at retail for consumption on or off the premises New York state labelled cider manufactured by a licensed brewer, licensed farm brewery, licensed farm winery, licensed cider producer or licensed farm cidery
  • To conduct tastings of and sell at retail for consumption on or off the premises New York state labelled wine manufactured by a licensed winery or licensed farm winery
  • To conduct tastings of and sell at retail for consumption on or off the premises New York state labelled mead 
  • To conduct tastings of and sell at retail for consumption on or off the premises New York state labelled braggot 
  • To operate up to one branch office located away from the licensed farm distillery. Such location shall be considered part of the licensed premises and all activities allowed at and limited to the farm distillery may be conducted at the branch office. Such branch office shall not be located within, share a common entrance and exit with, or have any interior access to any other business, including premises licensed to sell alcoholic beverages at retail. Prior to commencing operation of any such branch office, the licensee shall notify the authority of the location of such branch office and the authority may issue a permit for the operation of same.
  • To sell liquor in a sealed container for off-premises consumption at the state fair, at recognized county fairs and at farmers’ markets operated on a not-for-profit basis with an additional permit. As a condition of the permit a representative from the distillery must be present at the time of sale.
  • To manufacture, bottle and sell food condiments and products such as nuts, popcorn, mulling spices and other spirits related food in addition to other such food and crafts on and from the licensed premises. Such license shall authorize the holder thereof to store and sell gift items in a tax-paid room upon the licensed premises incidental to the sale of liquor. These gift items shall be limited to the following categories:
    • non-alcoholic beverages for consumption on or off premises, including but not limited to bottled water, juice and soda beverages;
    • food items for the purpose of complementing liquor tastings, which shall mean a diversified selection of food that is ordinarily consumed without the use of tableware and can be conveniently consumed while standing or walking. Such food items shall include but not be limited to: cheeses, fruits, vegetables, chocolates, breads, mustards and crackers;
    • food items, which shall include locally produced farm products and any food or food product not specifically prepared for immediate consumption upon the premises. Such food items may be combined into a package containing liquor related products;
    • liquor supplies and accessories, which shall include any item utilized for the storage, serving or consumption of liquor or for decorative purposes. These supplies may be sold as single items or may be combined into a package containing liquor;
    • liquor-making equipment and supplies including, but not limited to, filters, bottling equipment, and books or other written material to assist spirits makers to produce and bottle liquor; and
    • souvenir items, which shall include, but not be limited to artwork, crafts, clothing, agricultural products and any other articles which can be construed to propagate tourism within the region.

What does it cost to hold a farm distillery license?

The cost to hold a farm distillery license is less than $1,000 per year. Adding an on-premise license to serve non-New York labelled alcoholic beverages is an addition $1,000 per year. The investment to obtain the licenses initially is about $5,000 in legal fees for state and federal licenses.

Ready to get started? Contact our team to discuss your business plans to operate a New York farm distillery.

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