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Tasting bill clears committee
1 HB 514 pic
Owners of the Dawsonville Moonshine Distillery would benefit from House Bill 514 passing. - photo by Michele Hester Dawson Community News

A bill that would allow tastings at Georgia distilleries cleared committee last week and is one step closer to a vote by the state House of Representatives.

House Bill 514 would be advantageous to Cheryl Wood, owner of the Dawsonville Moonshine Distillery, which is expected to open in the next few months.

"We're definitely hoping it passes," Wood said.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Rusty Kidd, an Independent from Milledgeville, would allow visitors to sample up to a half ounce of spirits when touring a distillery in Georgia.

"If it makes it out of rules, which sets the calendar, I don't see any reason it wouldn't pass," said District 9 Rep. Amos Amerson, a Dahlonega Republican who represents the majority of Dawson County.

If it passes the House, the bill would go to the state Senate.

Master distiller Dwight Bearden said the measure could have a positive impact on the local economy.

"We hope this passes, because we think it's going to be good for us and good for Dawsonville," said Bearden, who will oversee operations at Dawsonville Moonshine Distillery.

Last year, Wood leased an area inside the Dawsonville Municipal Complex, which is also home to the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame, to open the distillery. A gift shop with moonshine collectibles is also open at the site.

"We have a lot of people that pass through the racing museum who want to see what we have here in the distillery," Bearden said. "We hope they keep wanting to see once we're up and running."

Following the installation of the boiler last week, Wood and Bearden await a state inspection.

"The inspection will be at their discretion, when they have time to come out," Bearden said. "When we get approval from the state and the federal and the fire marshal signs off, we should be ready to go."

Initially, Bearden said he plans to make a family recipe of corn liquor and in summer also offer brandy.