For the first time since the end of Prohibition in 1933, the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) has issued a new plenary distillery license in New Jersey, clearing the way for Fairfield-based Jersey Artisan Distilling to begin manufacturing spirituous liquor.
ABC Director Michael Halfacre said the Division was pleased to see the company put down roots in New Jersey and said its emergence was further proof that the growing craft liquor manufacturing industry has a home in New Jersey.
“We are excited by the growth of the locally-influenced, craft alcoholic beverage businesses that are expanding in New Jersey. Local breweries and our many vineyards are using New Jersey ingredients and know-how to produce great products for the public. We believe Jersey Artisan Distilling has a unique opportunity to add to this burgeoning industry.”
In addition to the newly-licensed distillery, New Jersey also has several local wine and beer manufacturers. There are 45 licensed wineries in the state and many of those maintain retail outlets in unlicensed, or Bring-Your-Own (BYO) restaurants, where they sell their New Jersey-made wines. There are also 11 craft breweries in the State and 14 brewpubs, which are micro-breweries that have the privilege to sell their beers at an adjoining restaurant.
Halfacre said Jersey Artisan Distilling planned to begin producing rum immediately and that they hoped it would become available by April. The rum will be made using classic techniques that represent the traditional style of dark rum, from the colonial period when New Jersey was a hub for rum production and importation.
Halfacre said that in the summer, the distillery would produce seasonal rum offerings that use New Jersey-sourced fruits including strawberries, cherries and blueberries. They anticipated being able to offer bourbon and whiskey in 2015, both of which will be made with New Jersey sweet corn, he said.
“The ABC worked with Jersey Artisan Distillery throughout this process to make it as efficient as possible,” Halfacre said. “Our staff was always available to answer questions and move this project forward to bring this industry back to New Jersey. We believe we managed to accomplish licensing more efficiently than has happened in most other states that have been licensing distilleries for some time.”