Antique Spirit Laws in NC

Antique Spirit Laws in NC

A.K.A. House Bill 909

On June 19th, 2015 House Bill 909 was passed by the state of North Carolina. This bill contained a number of amendments to current policy including the ban on powdered alcohol, distillery sales permits, contract brewing, and various other issues. However, the portion of the bill regarding antique spirits intrigued me most. The Antique Spirit amendment seems to state that any mixed beverage permit holder in the state of NC can purchase “Antique Spirits” for resale at their establishments. Pause for effect…

The bill goes on to define antique spirits as...

  1. Unopened

  2. Bottled 20 years or more.

  3. Currently not produced or for sale by the NC ABC Commission

The implications of this are potentially huge for the bar industry in NC. Through my understanding we would be unable to bring in any existing brands, so no vintage bottles of Pappy Van Winkle or cellared Campari. But there is outstanding potential for curating an antique spirits program at any bar in NC. Vintage Scotch, absinthe, and amaros would be easy candidates but the real low hanging fruit right now would definitely be extinct brands of bourbon i:e Stitzel Weller.  The question then becomes how to actually obtain the spirits for resale at your bar.


So I made some calls...

  1. The seller of the antique spirit will first need to obtain a one-time “Antique Spirituous Liquor Seller” permit. The permit cost $50 each time and does not seem to have a limit on how many bottles.

  2. The establishment must purchase an “Antique Spirituous Liquor Permit”

  3. The seller will set the price for the antique spirits and the state will tax the transaction.

  4. You can obtain your tax stamps at your local mixed beverage ABC.

All & all the whole affair is more than doable and as of this writing, there is only one bar in the entire state that has utilized it. The Crunkleton in Durham, NC seems to be well aware of the laws even going as far as taking credit for the bill with the very clever hashtag #thecrunkletonbill. Bewildering to me is that they appear to be stocking vintage bottles of Old Weller and Old Forester two brands very much still in production. This is likely due to a statement in the bill regarding spirits on the special order list a loophole that may allow a wide interpretation of which spirits can be brought in.  

Happy Hunting

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