Brighton ‘moonshine’ shop granted temporary drinks licence

A pop up shop has been granted a temporary licence to sell specialist liqueurs in The Lanes.

O’Donnell Moonshine plans to sell alcohol – marketed as flavoured moonshine – from the shop, in Hanningtons Lane, Brighton, until the middle of January.

When the company applied to Brighton and Hove City Council for a drinks licence, Sussex Police and the council’s licensing department lodged formal objections.

So a council licensing panel sat last week, made up of three councillors who were given the task of deciding whether to grant a licence to the business.

Sussex Police said that the shop was in a busy area – known as the cumulative impact zone – where licence applications would normally be rejected, as a matter of policy, other than in exceptional circumstances.

Police licensing officer Clare Abdelkader also said that the shop was in Regency ward which had the highest rates of serious violence in the whole of Sussex.

The electoral ward accounted for more than 6 per cent of all violent crime in the entire county last year.

Council licensing official Jo Osborne also wrote to express concerns about O’Donnell Moonshine’s application.

The council’s policy would usually be to refuse such an application, she said, as she set out concerns centred on crime and disorder and the protection of children from harm.

She added: “Granting this application is likely to add additional burdens and problems to an already challenging area at a time of year when the city is at its busiest with people socializing for Christmas and new year.”

But O’Donnell Moonshine’s managing director Max Rüther, 33, persuaded the licensing panel that his business would fuel problem drinking, violence or other crime in the area.

He said that he would fit security cameras – and keep alcohol away from the door to reduce the risk of shoplifting.

Before the panel hearing last Tuesday (28 September), he also said that the company would not sell drinks that were more than 50 per cent alcohol by volume (ABV).

And to reduce the risk of street drinking, Mr Rüther said that staff would sell the jars of drink in paper bags sealed with a sticker saying: “For consumption at home.”

He also told councillors that the drinks would be sold in Mason jars, which had a wide neck making it hard to drink from without first pouring it into a glass.

The panel accepted that the business was unlikely to have a negative impact on the area and, in a decision letter, said: “Very significantly, it is a time-limited application to operate in the run-up to and immediate aftermath of the Christmas period.

“The only product to be sold is O’Donnell Moonshine which is a relatively expensive product. This sets it firmly apart from a general off-licence.”

Mr Rüther said: “We are very happy to have secured a temporary licence in Brighton and are sure that it will be a great experience for all visitors to The Lanes.”

The licensed hours are from 11am to 8pm from Monday to Saturday and from noon to 6pm on Sundays until Sunday 16 January.

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