The Top of the Hill Distillery will permanently close on Feb. 15 after sustaining a loss in revenue.
The distillery opened in 2012 and was the first locally sourced organic distillery to open in the South. It produced a wide variety of liquors, including vodka, gin, unaged whisky and wheat whiskey.
Visitors were offered a tour of the distillery on Friday and Saturday nights, where they could try samples of liquors and learn about the distillation process and various spirits.
Scott Maitland, the proprietor of TOPO Restaurant and Brewery and TOPO Distillery, said he decided to open the distillery after producing microbrewed beer using a small canning machine at the brewery starting in 2001.
However, at the time of the distillery’s opening, distilleries were prohibited from directly selling liquor products to visitors.
This was due to North Carolina granting a monopoly to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission stores, preventing local distilleries from selling their liquor products directly to consumers.
Maitland said some ABC stores in the state sold a limited number of liquor products from North Carolina distilleries, yet refused to sell products from businesses that had low sales.
“North Carolina distilleries literally could not sell their products,” he said.
Maitland met with elected officials to push for North Carolina Senate Bill 24 and N.C. House Bill 107, which made it legal for North Carolina distilleries to sell liquor products distilled on their premises for consumption off-premises. The parallel bills would have allowed distilleries to sell one bottle of liquor to each visitor per year, but neither of them ever made it out of committee.