Boones Mill distillery pushing for change in town's liquor law

Residents will vote on whether to legalize sale of liquor by the drink

BOONES MILL, Va. – In less than two weeks, Boones Mill voters will head to the polls to decide whether to allow the sale of mixed alcoholic beverages.

Franklin County is known as the moonshine capital of the world, yet in Boones Mill, selling liquor by the drink is actually illegal. Now, Franklin County Distilleries is working to change that.

Franklin County Distilleries looks like it's ready to open, but there's one major issue.

"We found out that liquor by the drink wasn't available in this area," FCD Director of Sales and Development Radd Nesbit said.

That's when Nesbit took to the streets to collect signatures to get the item on the November ballot.

"We sat on couches, we sat on front porches, we introduced ourselves to our neighbors, we talked about trying to accomplish here, focusing on the history of Franklin County and Boones Mill and what we want to be as a company, and economic driver this area and to bring notoriety back to the area," Nesbit said.

They had to get signatures from more than 100 of Boones Mill's 169 registered voters, but not everyone was supportive, so they're trying to ease people's concerns.

“We are not going to be a standard typical bar, we were not going to have people leaving here at 2:30 in the morning and endangering others on the road," Nesbit said.

Town leaders expect the tasting room, located right off Route 220, to transform the area.

"We've seen very strong growth in our meals tax revenue from Holly Joe's Creekside Grill, Hammer and Forge Brewery and FCD might fit in with that as well and that will certainly help us provide a higher level of service to residents," Boones Mill  town manager Matt Lawless said.

The benefits of passing the referendum would stretch farther than the distillery.

"It would certainly allow other restaurants developments, everything from the small hotel with a bar attached to your chain restaurants that have bars in them. Those weren't options for us previously, so we may see those developments in the future," Lawless said.

Now, the future of the distillery and the town is in the hands of Boones Mill voters.

If the referendum passes, Franklin County Distilleries hopes to open the tasting room in mid-December.

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