Pending Approval of Manatee County's First Craft Distillery

Pending Approval of Manatee Country’s First Craft Distillery

Loaded Cannon Distillery and Tasting Room not only plans to be the first craft distillery to open in Lakewood Ranch, but in the entire county of Manatee as well. In order to do so, however, they have more to do than pass the typical health inspection. 

Steve Milligan, founder of Loaded Cannon Distillery and Tasking Room in Lakewood Ranch, is bound and determined to make vodka, rum, whiskey and other spirits. So much so, he is willing to challenge the law to make this happen. 

In addition to passing the state health inspectors specifications from the Manatee County Health Department, the opening of Loaded Cannon is also contingent upon passage of House Bill 1219. According to Steve Milligan and the Bradenton Herald, House Bill 1219 will allow Loaded Cannon Distillery to:

    • Produce actual cocktails with their products in the distillery. “I can’t serve cocktails in here. Customers can come in and get a taste. I can’t go to a local festival and sell drinks as a vendor. There are a tremendous number of restrictions they have on distilleries. We are way behind the times in Florida compared to other states,” Milligan said.

    • Allow their customers to purchase more than 6 individual containers of branded product to a consumer. “Under current law, I can sell only six 750-milliliter bottles (about one quart) per label per year to any one customer,” Milligan said. Currently, there is no cap for quantities sold at a local liquor store. 

    • Allow customers to travel with the product. Consumers would also be allowed to ship craft distillery products out of the state.

The Bradenton Herald also stated, “The bill passed out of the Florida House of Representatives last week and awaits Senate action this week.”

Steve Milligan also stated how supportive the community of Lakewood Ranch and Manatee County have been, however, he is still unable to open without the approval of House Bill 1219. 

In addition to Loaded Cannon, passage of this bill would greatly impact other craft distilleries in the state. Philip McDaniel, CEO of St. Augustine Distillery in St. Augustine, commented, “With this legislation and (Senate) President (Bill) Galvano’s help (by hearing the bill), Florida could become a craft distilling powerhouse and create a whole new industry.”

For more information on the distillery, visit

For more information on House Bill 1219, visit

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