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Alcohol distillery proposed for Hingham Industrial Complex

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  April 25, 2013 02:20 PM

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Come September, South Shore stores may carry a new brand of alcohol on their shelves, produced a short drive away in Hingham.

The Bradford Distillery, proposed for Hingham’s South Shore Industrial Park off Route 3, will launch its round of local approvals next month, and owners hope to see the manufacturing up and running by the fall, producing everything from vodka to gin to fruit brandy.

“It’s been a long time in the making,” said Robert Rohla, from Hull, who will own the business along with aunt and uncle Patricia and Bradford Seeland, from Scituate.

For Rohla, the interest in brewing started when he was finishing up his degree from Northeastern University in 2005. Yet the passion would go on the back burner as he began law school.

He eventually moved to Kentucky to work in a law firm, and began getting involved in the legal side of the distillery process.

“In 2009/2010, we started coming across people that wanted to get into smaller distilleries … you saw a lot of older distillers who retired who were missing the game,” Rohla said.

As his interest blossomed with how to start up a small distillery business, Rohla’s uncle, Bradford, became more interested in the scientific side of the industry.

“Since 2007, his interest has coalesced with mind and we’ve been on the same page since then,” Rohla said. “He wanted to be involved in this…it’s a good working relationship.“

Rohla said the group hopes to use local fruits to make some of the alcohol. The fruit-alcohol business, mainly done with brandy, is still a small segment of the market, Rohla said, but is growing.

The current plans call for distilling the liquor at the facility, then selling it to retail establishments. But he said, “We could expand to restaurants and bars if they like what we’re making.”

Rohla explained that the distillery will not need an alcohol license, because it won't sell alcohol on site, but will go through a three-step approval process.

Locally, the shop will need a site plan review and parking plan review from the Planning Board. The distillery would then apply for building permits.

Finally, the business will have to procure state and production licensing.

According to Mary Savage Dunham, director of community planning for Hingham, the Planning Board review of the 5,000-square-foot space will begin May 6.

Because the distillery isn’t looking to sell the alcohol on-site, the approval process should not be overly complicated.

“It’s going in an industrial area, it’s all interior. The site is already built and it’s a distillery, it's manufacturing really,” she said. “There shouldn’t be a big level of concern … If in the future they expand or put in a retail component, there would probably be more scrutiny. But no pubic will go there [now], just the workers.”

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