GASTON COUNTY, N.C. — Thanks to a change in state law, North Carolinians can now buy liquor bottles on Sundays.

Specifically, North Carolina’s distilleries are getting used to having customers on Sunday and figuring out the best way to maximize business and schedules.

“October 3, I believe, is the first Sunday since prohibition, or before prohibition, that you could purchase a bottle of liquor on Sunday,” Robbie Delaney said.


What You Need To Know

North Carolina distilleries embrace being able to sell on Sundays

Muddy River Distillery in Gaston County says Sunday sales are going well

Law change went into effect this month


Delaney, the owner of Muddy River Distillery in Belmont, said the law change was a welcome sign North Carolina was starting to embrace businesses like his.

“North Carolina appreciates us as a positive economic development, as a part of our community, something people appreciate and aren’t afraid of,” Delaney said. 

At his distillery on the banks of the Catawba River, Delaney’s been mixing spirits for a long time.

“We turn 10, November 4, yeah. That makes us the oldest rum distillery in the Carolinas,” Delaney told visiting customers during a break in our interview.

As his customers enjoy an afternoon tasting, Delaney’s passion can be felt across the bar.

“This is pretty intense. We actually buy basil from a local farm, acres of basil, and we soak it in the rum. That’s pretty easy,” Delaney explained, as they sipped on basil-infused rum.

In just 10 years his business, which started on a kitchen stove, is now headquartered in a 6,100-square-foot building. But, Delaney’s dreams to grow the business are nowhere near complete.

“A brewery is somewhere you don’t just go to see beer made, it’s a place you go to enjoy that beer, to relax, spend the day. And, we’re trying to get there. So, we don’t have a front of house now. We do tours, formal tours. We do tastings, but we want to have a cocktail bar, just like the breweries. And now the laws allows us to do that, we should be able to be open the entire weekend,” Delaney added.

Thanks to the law, the distillery is now open all weekend.

House Bill 890 allows the selling on Sundays.

“Sales under this subdivision are allowed only in a county where the establishment of a county or municipal ABC store has been approved pursuant to G.S. 18B-602(g) and may occur between the hours of 9:00 A.M. and 9:00 P.M. on Monday through Saturday of each week, from 12:00 noon to 9:00 P.M. on Sundays,” the law states.

The 28-page bill addresses many aspects of Delaney’s business and opens the door for more growth.

On the first Sunday of October, Delaney worked the space alone to see how business would flow under the new law. About 20 people came in to taste and purchase his various rums, with some knowing the law had changed, while others came by chance, not knowing just a week earlier they would have been met with a locked door and closed sign. 

“People were kind of celebrating that the laws are changing,” Delaney said.

Not to mention, it helps when your business is one of the only options.

“We’re the only business in Gaston County that could sell you a bottle of alcohol, distilled spirits, on Sunday. And, we celebrate it by being open from noon to 5,” Delaney said with a smile.

He said it is a welcome showing of appreciation for his business and others like it, especially after the last 18 months. After the COVID-19 pandemic began, Delaney switched production to make 10,000 gallons of hand sanitizer to save employee jobs. Muddy River temporarily closed its tasting room, and material costs went up dramatically. 

“Making sanitizer kept our employees working, not just regular hours but overtime. We hired more people. We grew our rum sales up by almost 20% in 2020, and we’re up 40-something percent for 2021,” Delaney said.

Of course, he hopes the Sunday spirits pour on more.