The History of New Jersey’s Distilling Industry

It began in Colonial times, vanished during Prohibition and, following new legislation in 2013, came roaring back.

distilling industry

From left, Asbury Park Distilling’s bottles of gin, Double Barrel bourbon, Small Batch bourbon, barrel-finished gin and vodka showcase the color range of craft spirits. Photo by Felicia Perretti


MORE FROM THIS PACKAGE
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An Insider’s Guide to 25 New Jersey Distilleries
The Story Behind Laird & Company, Our Country’s Oldest Distillery

1780 

Laird & Company in Scobeyville receives License No. 1 from the U.S. Department of the Treasury, becoming the country’s first licensed distillery. 

1834

NJ is home to upwards of 388 different distilleries.

1919

The 18th Amendment triggers Prohibition, killing the Garden State’s distilling industry.

1933

Prohibition is repealed with the 21st Amendment.

1972

Laird’s stops distilling in NJ.

2012

Craft-distillery license bill is introduced to the state Senate.

2013

March: Jersey Artisan Distilling receives plenary license, becoming NJ’s first new distillery in 94 years.
August: Governor Chris Christie signs legislation that changes NJ’s distilling laws, allowing artisanal distillers to open. Annual cost is lowered from $12,500 to $938.
December: Craft-distillery license law goes into effect.

2014

Cooper River Distillers receives first craft distilling license.

2018

Cooper River, Camden County’s first craft distillery, closes.

2020

NJ distilleries quickly begin producing hand sanitizer in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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