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Business & Economy

Will Mini-Bottles Make a Comeback in Utah? Alcohol Commission Wants Legislature to Decide

Photo courtesy Jay Yahne
The Hive Winery in Layton, UT

Utah liquor officials say they're not ready to give a brandy distillery special permission to sell mini-bottles of liquor. Instead they want state lawmakers to step in and settle Utah's complex alcohol-sampling laws.

The Hive Winery in Layton has a brandy product, and owner Jay Yahne thinks that allowing customers to buy sample-sized bottles will boost sales.

“I want people to be able to take home the spirits to taste at home,” Yahne says. “Spirits can get you pretty quick, and so I want my responsible customers to take a small sample home to try it before they buy a $70 bottle of brandy.”

Under Utah liquor laws, sales of mini-bottles of alcohol are generally illegal except for in hotels, airlines and case-by-case exceptions set by the state alcohol control commission. Commissioner Jeffrey Wright says if the decision only involved Jay Yahne, he would vote in favor, but it’s bigger than one distiller.

“We have no issues with Jay,” Wright says. “I think it’s more a broader issue of if you allow him to do it, do you open up the whole entire market to inundation of mini-bottles?” Wright says it’s a discussion that should involve state lawmakers. “I think it needs to go to the broader public and the legislature, and I do think we should talk about this issue.”

Jay Yahne says he wanted the commission to make the decision. Instead, they’re now asking the legislature to resolve it.

“I think where the Mormon Church controls the legislature, it’s a bad idea,” Yahne says. “Let’s be honest, there’s no separation of church and state. When they come out saying they’re against something, they’re against something.”

The state legislature largely phased out mini-bottles around 1990, when bartenders were allowed to mix cocktails with measured shots.

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