Private Swiss Distilleries To Receive Licences Again

(MENAFN- Swissinfo) Small producers of distilled alcoholic drinks such as schnapps and grappa are to be granted a licence for their home distilleries again in order to preserve tradition in Switzerland.

This content was published on February 27, 2024 - 10:36 3 minutes Keystone-SDA

After the House of Representatives, the Senate also voted in favour on Monday by 42 votes to 0 with two abstentions.

The motion submitted in the House of Representatives by Fabio Regazzi demands that the government create the basis in the Alcohol Law for small producers to be granted a licence again. In addition, licences that were cancelled or temporarily extended at the end of 2020 should regain their validity.

The 2015 revision of the Alcohol Law abolished the possibility of home distilleries for private individuals, as these do not fall under the definition of a farmer, Regazzi explained.

Anyone who distils as a hobby is excluded from this. Withdrawing the licences would destroy a centuries-old tradition, he said, explaining that the producers were making an important contribution to the preservation of a rural cultural heritage that is important both from a cultural-historical and landscape perspective.

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Distilleries under competitive pressure

This was also the view of the responsible committee of the Senate. In addition, granting a licence would strengthen the production of local specialities. The committee also considered it appropriate to lower the administrative obstacles, not least because small distilleries were under pressure due to competition from imported spirits.

According to the text of the motion, there are currently around 10,000 private individuals in Italian-speaking Switzerland who produce distilled spirits; 500 of them have a licence. There are also private distilleries in Valais, Bern and the Basel region.

The government had requested a no vote on the motion. With the rejection of the liberalisation of the alcohol market in 2015, the obligation that anyone wishing to distil alcohol must have a licence also remained in place, it argued. Anyone who no longer had a distillation licence had to go to one of the three contract distilleries or one of the 63 cooperatives in Ticino to sell their produce.

This system had proved its worth, said Finance Minister Karin Keller-Sutter.

Translated from German by DeepL/ts

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