Still waiting

By AL DIAMON  |  May 30, 2013

The state's absurd rules for distilleries are part of a long history of impeding alcohol production. In the 1980s, one of the pioneers of modern Maine beer-making found his every effort to set up a brewery thwarted by the overseers of morality — even though his plans were well within the law. He once told me the official in charge of approving his project informed him, "This isn't going to happen. Not on my watch." When the would-be brewer asked why, the pompous twit replied, "Because I don't like it."

Maine's earliest brewpubs faced similar intransigence. One owner told me, "It would have been easier licensing an opium den."

With small distilleries, the scrutiny became even more intense. "The feds weren't much of a problem," one liquor manufacturer said. "The big delays were with the state."

The reason, of course, is taxes. Maine levies a hefty duty on alcohol and wants to make sure none of that evil stuff is used for pleasure until an intense level of pain has been endured. That's why, when it comes to nationally distributed brands of hooch, so many of us take our business to New Hampshire, where they're happy to siphon off a few million in profits from the idiots next door.

That option isn't available to those of us who'd like to try In'finiti's offerings. Instead, Maine regulators have allowed us to stare at a pair of inactive stills for several weeks, while Michaud tries to find a way to make his business plan work.

The good news is that by the end of the month, he says the overburdened booze will finally have completed its pointless round trip to Augusta and will start to trickle out. At which point, the not-so-free-enterprise system can finally begin to function.

It's enough to drive me to drink

Or it would be if that weren't illegal, too.

Take your shot (and a beer) at me by emailing aldiamon@herniahill.net.

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  Topics: The Editorial Page , Paul Lepage, Eric Michaud
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