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New Idaho law lifts distilleries' spirits

By Tyler Berg
Published On: Jul 01 2014 10:49:46 PM CDT

A new law passed by the Idaho Legislature in March allowed distilleries to begin offering samples Tuesday.

DRIGGS, Idaho -

A new law passed by the Idaho Legislature in March allowed distilleries to begin offering samples Tuesday.

The Grand Teton Distillery in Driggs pushed the passing of the bill in 2013, but had no luck.

"I couldn't even get them to put it on the agenda," said Lea Beckett, president of Grand Teton Distillery. "The Chairman just wouldn't even put it on the agenda."

Since then, the distillery grew and added several awards to its collection. The company reached the goals of its five-year plan, just two years in.

"The awards and the recognition has definitely catapulted us forward from our original plans for this distillery," said Head Distiller John Boczar.

Beckett said the success caught the eye of a pair of Idaho legislators.

"They volunteered that they wanted to help us pass the samples bill, so I had it on my computer," said Beckett. "I printed it off, gave it to them and they just took it and went forward."

The new law allows distilleries to give three .25 ounce samples of liquor. Like many breweries and wineries, Grand Teton Distillery offers tours to visitors. Boczar said the samples will level the playing field for distilleries and help enhance the whole experience.

"Before, it was like the play ended because the lights went out," said Boczar. "It's that final payoff of, quite honestly, listening to me drone on and on about how yeast are working."

The bill's passing has even changed the distillery's layout. When it was constructed, a tasting room was built in hopes that the bill would eventually pass. Until now, it only served as the company's office. After receiving the news in March, Boczar's son began building new offices to clear the tasting room of paperwork and filing cabinets.

Grand Teton Distillery is one of Idaho's eight distilleries.

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