fdu public mind pollMADISON, NJ - Although few are aware of a recent change in New Jersey law that allows for the small scale production of artisanal spirits, Garden State voters are game when it comes to giving these distillers a chance. Almost three-quarters (71%) say they’ve heard nothing at all about recently passed legislation that makes it easier for craft distillers to buy a license at a greatly reduced rate, and produce up to 20,000 gallons of hard alcohol per year. However, assuming one drinks hard alcohol (43%), most (37%) say they would be willing to give artisan distillers a chance over large-scale, name brands, with significantly fewer (10%) who say they would not be willing to go local with their hard alcohol choice.

“With the law going into effect on December 1st, craft distillers are poised to benefit from the new opportunities for sales over the holiday shopping season,” said Krista Jenkins, director of PublicMind and professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University. “New Jersey artisan distillers now have a more level playing field against, for example, Russian vodka.”

As the old saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, and this applies to the temptation of trying a local artisan’s elixir over better known brands. The under 30 crowd is the most likely to say they would try a local label (50%), with the 60 and over crowd the least likely to say the same (22%).

“This bill represents many things: the creation of new manufacturing for the state, which, although small now, could spur a cottage industry of job creation,” said Joseph Tormey, professor of hospitality and tourism management at Fairleigh Dickinson University. “It could also promote new tourism activities, as well as support local farmers and suppliers since the bill requires that a majority of the raw materials used in the production of distilled alcoholic beveragesbe grown or purchased from New Jersey providers.” Tormey goes on to point out that craft distilling and small batch artisan production of alcoholic beverages, including beer, are growing rapidly across the U.S. “Anything with a local moniker is likely to be good for New Jersey,” said Tormey.

The Fairleigh Dickinson University poll of 700 registered voters in New Jersey was conducted by telephone with both landline and cell phones from August 21 through August 27, 2013, and has a margin of error of +/-3.7 percentage points.