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Do I Need a Liquor License? An Alcohol Distributor? Your Get-Started Guide

Whether you’re a new retailer or considering opening up a bar, you likely have many questions.

  • Do I need a liquor license to sell drinks?
  • Will I need to source an alcohol distributor?
  • What role does a distributor play?
  • Where can I get the answers I need?

It can all feel overwhelming at first, which is why we’ve created this handy starter guide.

Essential Roles of an Alcohol Distributor

Understandably, several legal restrictions come with distributing alcohol. Federal control extends beyond product development, impacting everything from funding and label production to state and local law compliance.

A distributor works on behalf of the manufacturer or provider to ensure a smooth sales process. Their role includes in-depth and up-to-date knowledge of rules and regulations, which also benefits retailers, especially in these ever-changing times.

Are Alcohol Distributors Necessary?

There are far too many exceptions to cover in a single guide, as each law has specific guidelines.

For example, wineries and breweries in California can sell their goods directly to merchants and customers without a distributor. In contrast, distilled spirits producers in the state can only sell to distributors and cannot have a distributor license directly.

Distribution requirements have evolved with new COVID-prompted laws and updated rules and regulations. So, if you’re wondering whether or not you need an alcohol distributor, our best advice is to look for timely and location-specific answers. The situation in your area might be completely different compared to just a year ago.

How Much Does a Liquor License Cost?

Suppose you’re opening a new nightclub or hoping to sell wine at a coffee shop. In either case, you can contact your state for specific information on liquor licensing. But it might make more sense to turn to a reputable alcohol producer or distributor for guidance covering the entire process.

Individual states dictate the price of acquiring a liquor license. However, as a general guideline, full liquor licenses will cost anywhere from $12,000 to $400,000.

Note: While some states allow people to serve alcohol at 18, you must be at least 21 years old to obtain a liquor license.

How Long Will It Take to Get a Liquor License?

It takes approximately 90-120 days to complete a new liquor license application. But it’s significantly less time to transfer an existing license to an already licensed location.

Keep in mind that incomplete applications or a dispute by neighbors or the local government will delay the process.

Give Us a Call

It can be incredibly overwhelming when you’re first starting a new alcohol-related business. But our in-house team at Next Century Spirits has expertise in product development and TTB (Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau) regulatory compliance.

Next Century Spirits is passionate about clear communication, a unique approach, and a turnkey process to quickly bring your product to market.

Do you have more questions about getting started? We can help. Please reach out to our friendly team to set up a meeting to see how we can best serve one another. We’d love to partner with you to get your new private label spirits off the ground or take existing ones to the next level.

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