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Governors seal lifts local moonshiners spirits
5 Alcohol bill pic
Backwoods distiller Dwight Bearden gives Gov. Nathan Deal a quick lesson on moonshining during the governors May 1 visit to Dawsonville. - photo by Michele Hester Dawson Community News

Visitors touring the Dawsonville Moonshine Distillery will soon have the option to take home a bottle of its signature backwoods spirits.

Gov. Nathan Deal signed a bill last week that allows distilleries to charge a fee for tours, which would serve as a means to give a souvenir bottle of their product to 21 and older visitors.

"The signing of Senate Bill 63 by the Governor represents a great win for small businesses. As of July 1, craft distilleries and breweries across Georgia will be able to add more jobs and increase the amount of tourism dollars that are invested in their local communities," said Christie Haynes, president of the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce and office of tourism development.

Currently, those wanting more than a taste of Dawsonville's legal white lightning or apple pie moonshine have to drive a half mile away and shop at the local package store.

Housed at the Dawsonville Municipal Complex, the Dawsonville Moonshine Distillery is open daily for tours and tastings.

Designed to create jobs while increasing tourism in an industry that is relatively new to the state, the bill will "enhance the distillery experience of those visiting our area," according to Haynes.

"Many of the Georgia distilleries, like our own Dawsonville Moonshine Distillery, are located in rural areas," she said. "This passed legislation will have a great impact in areas that are the most eager for furthered tourism and economic development."

In March, Haynes and NASCAR legend Bill Elliott, who is also the face of the distillery and has a signature flavor that is produced in Dawsonville, spoke to a subcommittee of the state's Senate Regulated Industries committee to explain the importance of the legislation.

"For the past three years our chamber and advocacy committee has included in our legislative agenda changes to not only increase tourism investment in our community, but to also allow for a better visitor experience," she said. "[The bill] will help bring more jobs to the Dawsonville Moonshine Distillery."

The Dawsonville distillers have pushed for years to have the option to sell their product on site.

Distiller Dwight Bearden has said the ability to sell bottles of the spirits would be a big boon for the local business.

"We're just edging by the way it is now," he told state legislators touring the facility in the summer of 2013.

Craft beer breweries will also be able to charge for tours and include 72 ounces of product in their tour price for legal-age.