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Friday, May 24, 2024

Carolina Beach, home of sun, sand, and … rum?

An application has been filed to allow for distilleries in the Town of Carolina Beach

A new rum in town? Carolina Beach Planning and Zoning will hear from applicants regarding a change in town code to allow distilleries in the town (Port City Daily/File)
A new rum in town? Carolina Beach Planning and Zoning will hear from applicants regarding a change in town code to allow distilleries in the town (Port City Daily/File)

CAROLINA BEACH — Pirates, landlubbers, and everyone else who enjoys a mojito, daiquiri, or other rum drink might soon be able to buy rum made right here in the Cape Fear region if Carolina Beach approves a request to allow distilleries in its highway business districts.

A request has been submitted to the town to amend town code that would include distilleries in the district — currently, there is no wording permitting them in the town.

Historically, distilleries in North Carolina have faced strict regulations from the state, but recent laws have made it more feasible for distilleries to open.

Related: A passion for rum: Wilmington businessman launches his own brand of rum

“It should be noted that distilleries are opening around the state and they are all handled slightly differently, but most cities, counties, and municipalities place the majority of the enforcement and management back on the State/ABC,” according to Carolina Beach planning documents. “Several changes have been made to the guidelines for Distilleries and associated activities which open up more opportunity for small-scale distilling operations to succeed. The ‘Brunch Bill’ adopted on June 30th of 2017 allowed for the annual sale of five bottles to one consumer in a 12-month period, as opposed to the one bottle allotment previously allowed. This change has made craft or micro distilleries more economically viable.”

The request comes from Veggie Wagon owner Max Sussman, but he said the plans for the distillery would be a totally different brand.

When asked why he wanted to make the jump to distilling, he said it all came down to the right timing.

“Its been a long debate my partners are my friends we have joked about it for a really long time and everything presented itself at the right time. We did a lot of homework on it and a small craft distillery it was the right timing for us, it is going to be a long process – I think we made the decision in August,” Sussman said.

But there is still a lot of work to be done before a Carolina Beach rum is a reality — from state and federal permitting to constructing the distillery, Sussman said the project will take at least another year or two.

The outlook so far has been a positive one, much to the surprise of Sussman.

Planning staff for the Town of Carolina Beach is recommending the approval of the request and even called the business “sought after.”

“A distillery would be an example of a sought after business activity which would encourage resort market niche business activities and year round residency. Additionally, the strict standards placed by the State and ABC would prevent the operation from negatively impacting adjoining properties,” according to the meeting documents.

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