Editorials

Sarasota's Drum Circle Distilling's pure genius on skirting un-American law

Lawmakers blow a lot of hot air about supporting small businesses, but the reality is big business gushes cash for campaigns and political action committees. Small businesses carry little real influence.

So what's an entrepreneur to do? Find a loophole or work-around to restrictive and unfair laws.

This instance is pure genius.

This legislative session bore a tiny piece of fruit for craft distillers, loosening but not eliminating an "un-American" law in Florida's three-tier system on alcohol sales.

That system favors deep-pocketed distributors, forcing Florida breweries and distillers to mostly sell their products to the big guys for sales and distribution -- in effect, giving up profits to further line the pockets of the powerful.

Under the old law, small distilleries could only sell two bottles to each customer per year -- period. The new law allows those customers to purchase two bottles of each individually branded product per year.

Viola! Loophole!

Troy Roberts, founder and CEO of Sarasota-based Drum Circle Distilling, figured out a solution to skirt a new law that does little to rectify a long-standing and "un-American" legal preference for big business.

He's going to brand his award-winning Siesta Key Rum with different federally approved labels.

Siesta Key Rum comes in five flavors: toasted coconut, spiced, beer-barrel spiced, gold and silver, with the latter two available at some liquor stores.

Roberts told Herald reporter Kate Irby that an illustrator is at work designing a series of labels, maybe even five for each of the most popular flavors. "Then you can buy two of each label," he said.

He might hit a legal wall, but that remains up in the air.

State Rep. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, thinks otherwise: "If he gets those labels approved by the feds, I think he's good to go."

Furthermore, Steube, a supporter of lifting all restrictions on distillery sales, told Irby this:

"Honestly, I think it's ridiculous that we tell our businesses what they can or can't sell. It's absurd, and quite frankly I think it's un-American."

Un-American indeed. But that's big-time politics.

Cheers to Troy Roberts and Drum Circle Distilling. Pure genius indeed.

And his company could lead the way for such labeling to spread across Florida.

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