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Posted by on in January 2023 Editions

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Hitting store shelves in Maryland and Washington, DC, is a line of whiskey, gin, and other spirits under the SoNo 1420 brand. What makes this line of premium spirits that includes names like 1420 BBN and Blaze Whisky stand out? They are the products of America’s first distillery to incorporate hemp seed in its whiskey mashbills.

SoNo 1420’s founder is Ted Dumbauld, a rather remarkable man who first got a taste for Maryland and all it has to offer when he attended the U.S. Naval Academy in the early 1980s. In his career, he has gone from serving our country as a submarine officer to earning his MBA from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to working on Wall Street for two decades at such powerhouses as Deutsche Bank and Bear Stearns.

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I've been writing this Maryland state legislative preview article each year at this time for more than a decade now. And this is the first time since 2019 where the annual feature won’t be so mired down in pandemic-era hand wringing. For Annapolis and the beverage industry, it’s been back to business . . . eh, almost as usual. Thankfully, so is this look ahead to the next General Assembly session.

But first a look back at the past year and its wins. No victory was bigger than the defeat of a bill to allow supermarkets and convenience stores to put beer and wine on their shelves. Attorney and Maryland State Licensed Beverage Association (MSLBA) lobbyist J. Steven "Steve" Wise was happy for the win. But he warned, “It’s a perennial issue, and it does not seem that the supermarkets intend to give up. So, we’ll keep fighting.”

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