Stronger liquor to be legal in Virginia July 1

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Beginning July 1, Virginia ABC stores will be able to offer stronger liquor.

A new law increases the legal proof for “neutral grain spirits or alcohol that is without distinctive character, aroma, taste, or color” from 101 to 151. Rum is already available to purchase at that level.

The new law includes alcohol like Everclear. Right now, 48 other states sell it.

But college officials have expressed concerns of its potency. Gov. Terry McAuliffe vetoed a similar measure last year.

The lawmaker who introduced the legislation is Del. Barry Knight (R-Virginia Beach). While on the floor of the House of Delegates, he said that the governor asked supporters of the legislation to meet with cabinet secretaries for public safety, health and education and others who might have had concerns.

Del. Knight also noted that ABC stores can stock their shelves how they see fit — including keeping it away from college towns if they wish.

Mac McCormack owns McCormack’s Whisky Grill, McCormack’s Big Whisky Grill and McCormack’s Irish Pub.

His Henrico location carries about 2,200 liquors and 1,100 whiskeys.

Even with the new law, he doesn’t think he’ll add Everclear to his shelf.

“I’ve been bartending for 30 years. I’ve never had a single person ask me for Everclear or 151 proof,” he said. “The only thing I think this stuff is good for is making punches out of.”

McCormack said while he doesn’t see anything wrong with the new law, he doesn’t know of any bartenders eager to start pouring it.

The legislation has a sunset clause of five years. In 2022, lawmakers can decide whether to renew it.

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