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Gary Law temp byline 2021

Why craft drink makers in NI couldn’t sell their produce at the place where they made it… until now, that is after recent licensing law changes

Gary Law


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Boatyard Distillery founder Joe McGirr

Boatyard Distillery founder Joe McGirr

Mixologist Jorden Wint

Mixologist Jorden Wint

Sangiovese from the Bidente Valley

Sangiovese from the Bidente Valley

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Boatyard Distillery founder Joe McGirr

It must have been one of the most frustrating aspects of being a craft drinks maker: you work hard to create a product you’re really proud of, you spend a lot of money turning your distillery or brewery into a place people will want to visit, you start running tours, and then, when visitors have had an entertaining look around and ask to buy one of your products, you have to say no.

Why? Well, it’s that recurring irritation, our outdated licensing laws, rearing its head again. Long-standing legislation stipulated that if a distillery sold a bottle of spirits, that meant it was an off-licence, therefore it needed a full drinks licence. And as regular readers of this page will recall, one of those will set you back something in the region of £110,000 - plus VAT and legal fees, of course. And that requires the kind of deep pockets most fledgling drinks businesses just don’t have.


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