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Business & Economy

NC Liquor Laws Move Into The 21st Century With Some Resistance

A warehouse of barrels.
Courtesy of Southern Distilling Company
Southern Distilling Company in Statesville specializes in specialty in bourbon, rye, and single malt whiskeys, rums, and liqueurs.

The ABC Store is a tradition that has ruled North Carolina since the end of prohibition. Alcohol was a divisive political issue after prohibition ended, and North Carolina took a firm stance.

The state was one of the last to ratify the 21st Amendment. Liquor may have become legal in the 1930s, but the state did not begin to embrace liquor-by-the drink until 1978. North Carolina is one of 17 states that still control liquor sales, and until recently the state has virtually stood still on updating its laws. Now there are several new laws being passed and proposed that will change how liquor is sold around the state.

Will Doran, political reporter for The News and Observer, joins host Frank Stasio to talk about two new alcohol laws: one that allows beer and wine sales at campus sporting events throughout the UNC system and the ABC Regulatory Reform Act which will help local distillery companies compete with the craft beer and wine industries. Author and historian Chuck McShane joins the conversation to detail North Carolina’s history from prohibition to today. McShane authored articles about the topic for Charlotte Magazine and the North Carolina Historical Review about the state’s liquor history.

And North Carolina House Majority Whip Rep. Jon Hardister (R-Guilford) shares his support for House Bill 971 which seeks to end ABC stores completely. Walter Harris, chair of Chatham County ABC Board, voices opposition to that bill which he says will increase the cost of liquor in the state and cause many North Carolinians to lose their jobs. Vienna Barger co-owns Southern Distilling Company in Statesville and joins the conversation to share how the changes in North Carolina’s liquor laws affect her business.

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