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Forsyth Co. approves distillery production



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November 13, 2013
FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — The county's alcohol law was changed — again on Nov. 7.

This time, the manufacturing of alcoholic beverages was adopted into law by the Forsyth County Commission (4-0, with Commissioner Brian Tam absent).

County Attorney Ken Jarrard said entrepreneurs or business owner have driven the recent modifications to the alcohol law.

The business, Spirits of the USA, a Jacksonville, Fla.-based distillery and maker of 90-proof liquors, was told by the state they lacked county permit and regulation.

In an article with the Florida Times-Union, Spirits of the USA CEO Michael Gerard said he founded the company in Cumming in 2007 and has been developing products here since, including jalapeño-flavored vodka and a gin flavored with juniper berries and botanicals.

The county's code did not allow or accommodate distilleries, so the law has been changed, Jarrard said.

The county's alcohol law has changed drastically in the past couple years, allowing for brewers, growlers, wine and beer tastings and now distilleries.

"We are on a responsive mode right now," Jarrard said.

Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills said the alcohol law has been changed so many times that she wondered if the county could be more proactive with its alcohol regulation.

"I love bringing business and all that, but I'm wondering if we could look at our code and … be progressive and have a vision and make it a little bit wider, so we don't have to constantly be having public hearings," Mills said.

Distilleries would need to obtain county and state permits before they can be considered. The fee for a permit is $1,000. In addition, the distillery would have to be located in industrially-zoned land.

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