A new Missouri law protects consumer interests in high-quality and sustainable distilled spirits and ensures the 200-year legacy of Ozark Highlands distilling is celebrated and safeguarded in the future.
During the 2022 legislative session, the Missouri Legislature recognized the distillery as a protected class of alcohol in Missouri law. This law was signed by Missouri Governor Mike Parson and went into effect on August 28. The law protects the long history of distilled spirits production in the Ozark Highlands and ensures that long-term consumer and rural community interests are protected.
The art of distilling spirits in the region has been a part of the culture and the economy for more than 200 years since the first European settlers arrived in the region in the 1700s and early 1800s. Early settlers were pioneers who came west from the Southern Appalachians, descending from English and Scots-Irish immigrants and were followed in the 1840s and 1850s by Irish and German immigrants.
In 1819, the US Government named the Ozark Highlands region, and according to the USGS, it is the most significant highland region in Central North America. In 2022, the Highland Distillers Guild was established to protect consumer interests, educate the public about all the distilleries in the Ozark Highlands, and create opportunities for rural communities.
The Highland Distillers Guild is also tasked with certifying products as qualifying to use the Highlands regional certification. To receive certification as an Highlands spirit, a product must be produced and bottled in the Highlands, using chemical-free water from the Highlands; Additionally, whiskey must be aged in barrels manufactured in Missouri and aged for a minimum of 4 years in the Ozark Highlands. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources issued an official map defining the Ozark Highlands Spirits Region.
Twenty-seven of Missouri’s 51 distilleries are located in the Highlands. You can learn more about the Ozark Highlands distillation history, the region’s various regional distilleries, and the certification process at OzarkHighland.org.
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