Lowcountry distillery fighting for changes in state law


BLUFFTON, SC (WSAV) – A Lowcountry distillery is looking to change the way South Carolina does business.

The owner of Burnt Church Distillery says the change could benefit the whole state.

Billy Watterson is asking why his business should be treated any differently than anyone else who creates and serves alcohol? And he is taking his argument to the SC Statehouse.

Right now Palmetto State distilleries are treated like liquor stores. Anyone who makes spirits like bourbon or vodka has to close down at 7 pm, cannot open on Sunday, cannot serve any one person more than 3 ounces of liquor, and can’t sell food inside where drinks are served.

Watterson says these are different rules than breweries have to abide by in the state, and they have costly consequences for the entire state of South Carolina.

“We estimate that $30,000 a week in state and local taxes are not being collected because we aren’t able to transact with primarily tourists,” said Billy Watterson, Owner, Burnt Church Distillery. “This is a culmination of the largest three industries in South Carolina. So we do manufacturing, agricultural and tourism. And that is a recipe, no pun intended, for success.”

A bipartisan bill supported by 30 state lawmakers, including State Senators Tom Davis and Westin Newton was supposed to be placed in front of a South Carolina House committee Thursday but was delayed.

Watterson says if it passes, it would nearly double the number of companies making alcohol statewide over the next decade.

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