Sheehan & Associates, P.L.C.

New business brings distilling libations back to Detroit

Last month we discussed some legal issues related to Michigan's emerging craft brewery industry. But brewing isn't the only method of spirit-making in the state. In the early 1900s, Detroit's distilleries were thriving; that is, until the Prohibition years. But even then the city had enough speakeasies to go around. Detroit's being just over the river from Canada made the city a hotspot for rum running and the enjoyment of libations.

Now, after a long hiatus, legal distilleries are again popping up in Michigan, and not without demand. In fact, according to the American Distilling Institute, only three states rank higher than Michigan in the number of craft liquor distilleries. Just last month, two entrepreneurs opened one such distillery, Two James Spirits, in what is technically Detroit's oldest neighborhood, Corktown.

Not since the Prohibition years has liquor legally been distilled within Detroit's city limits, so the opening of Two James Spirits marks a historical change. The distillery, which offers craft brandies, whiskeys and vodkas, also has a comfortable tasting room open on Thursdays and throughout the weekends.

Located in what used to be a taxi garage on Michigan Avenue, the distillery and tasting room undoubtedly required significant renovation before appearing as they do now. Generally, such renovations require business agreements with contractors or subcontractors, as well as building permits and proper licensures.

Once those bases are covered, employment agreements and agreements with partners and suppliers have to be established. These matters aren't always the most exhilarating for business owners, and having an attorney address these issues can help free up the owner's entrepreneurial spirit that generates ideas for success.

Michigan residents with a taste for spirited libations may want to keep an eye out for Two James Spirits and other local distilleries. As Detroit rebounds from its recent setbacks, it is becoming more and more clear that entrepreneurs in a variety of industries are up for the challenge.

Source: Miami Herald, "New Corktown distillery resurrects rich history," Michael Martinez, Oct. 7, 2013

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