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May 3, 2015

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Goodman feigns displeasure as Las Vegas gives OK to distilleries

Code change will allow liquor manufacturers to locate in Las Vegas


Steve Marcus

Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman arrives with showgirls to deliver the annual State of the City address at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in downtown Las Vegas on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2011.

Click to enlarge photo

Stavros Anthony

A change in city code that would allow businesses to manufacture their own liquor in Las Vegas was approved Wednesday by the Las Vegas City Council — but not without some tongue-in-cheek dissent from Mayor Oscar Goodman.

Goodman, known for his signature martinis, was told by City Councilman Stavros Anthony that the new business venture the code is being changed to help would be distilling vodka and scotch. But not gin — the key ingredient of the mayor's favorite drink.

Nevada H&C Distilling Co., co-owner Aaron Chepenik, who also co-owns the Griffin on East Fremont Street downtown, told council members recently that the first liquor they planned to manufacture is vodka, Anthony said.

"And it's gonna be in a pretty cool bottle," Anthony said. The second one they plan to make is single-malt scotch, which will take a while to age, he said.

"But there's no future for gin with this particular business," Anthony said, looking over at the mayor. "I just wanted to let you know about that."

"Forget about you," Goodman said stern-faced, getting laughs. He gruffly asked Councilman Ricki Barlow to make a motion for the vote.

When the vote appeared on the monitor, it showed all the council members voting for the change, except for Goodman.

"May the record really reflect my 'No' vote," Goodman said, getting laughs.

However, he quickly changed it to a "Yes" vote.

The change in the code, which was actually sponsored by Goodman, will amend the city's regulations pertaining to alcoholic beverages to establish a liquor manufacturing license category.

The licensing category will allow the manufacturer of all types of alcoholic beverages, subject to all applicable federal and state laws and regulations.

The semi-annual fee for a license will be $1,000.

Anthony also noted that the owner of the Nevada H&C Distilling Co. praised the city's business-friendly atmosphere, saying it was the best place they had ever tried to open a business, while Los Angeles was the worst.

"So if you're in Los Angeles and want to move your business to Nevada, come on to the City of Las Vegas and we'll be glad to help you out," Anthony said.

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  1. There needs to be ordinances in place to assure that strong alcoholic smells do not permeate the air around this distillary. All that one needs to do is to drive by the Canadian Club distillary in Windsor, Canada to understand what i am talking about. you can smell the stuff a mile away.

  2. Excellent news. Congratulations to the owners and thanks to the City Council for having the vision to see these changes through.

  3. This is great! The mayor will be closer to the source...

  4. I wish them luck.

    To clarify on the name "Scotch", this isn't Scotland so it will just be Whiskey. Single malt really doesn't exist is the US. They can make a high quality Whiskey but the water chemistry will be tricky. The logistics are interesting. Nevada doesn't have white oak, high quality water or an abundance of barley; all will have to be imported, well, the water will have to be heavily worked. It will have to age at least three years (absolute minimum).

    They should just make Corn Whiskey. They are importing everything anyway and it is quick. Put it in a hinky Elvis bottle and run with it.

    Let them make Vodka it is another quickie.

    I envision this to be a gimmick and not a real quality Whiskey.

  5. Happy,

    If you are referring to me...... sorry, but I love it here. I wouldn't move if you paid me.

    I was just trying to clarify the article since in some places accuracy matters.

    As far as "as long as it sells" goes, wow, nice to know quality isn't high on your priority list. The folks won't stay in business long enough to see their second run through if it is garbage, that is, unless you are their customer.

  6. Mr. Lomprey, Nevada H&C is bringing in a master distiller, formerly of Makers Mark, to make the whiskey. That indicates it will not be a "gimmick."

  7. James, that is great news. I love Makers Mark.

    Having said that, I absolutely will buy a bottle even if it ends up being skunk water just to support the venture and will give them the benefit of the doubt, but Vegas doesn't have the natural resources to produce a high quality AND profitable whiskey.

    If I am wrong (and I really hope I am) I will be the first to admit it.

  8. If the success of craft brewing is any indication, craft distilling could be a very good thing economically for Las Vegas.

  9. VegasEngineer, you bring up a good point, but this also has roots in my comments. There are at least two "craft breweries" here in town that are more appropriately described as cr@p breweries. They are surviving on gimmicks, catchy names and swag. The beer is miserable.

    Welcome to Vegas, buy our stuff once and never come back.

    Having said that, there are also some very good craft breweries in Vegas. There is even a remarkably good craft brewery in Reno. It can be done but quality can't take a backseat to "a pretty cool bottle"

  10. Timothy, I appreciate your enthusiasm as I will do the same!

    It should be noted that the whiskey won't be available right away. It will take years for it to age properly, as the story indicates.

    As for local breweries, I'm not a beer drinker, so I cannot speak with authority on that subject. But one longtime local brewer has succeeded in getting beer on tap at the new Cosmopolitan, which seems to suggest some success in producing a decent brew.

  11. I'll drink to that!

  12. @getalife

    Joseph James brewing has great beer! There are a few others in the county I don't care much for, but i'm really picky about my beer.

  13. VegasEngineer, you are absolutely correct, Joseph James has great beer, but like I said there are still others here in town that are brewing dreck.

    I am very picky about my beer. Since I am no longer 22, I drink for flavor not buzz

  14. How can anyone complain when any new business materializes in Las Vegas? These are the opportinities that can revitalize your economy. Open mindedness is what made Las Vegas successful.I applaud those who are willing to take a chance in Las Vegas, and the United States! We will become stronger than ever!!!