Tasting Events at New Jersey Liquor Stores
Tastings are a great way for retail distribution licensees to attract in new customers and expose those customers to new brands of alcohol. Sometimes the biggest hurdle for consumers is not being familiar with a brand or type of alcohol. By offering these tastings, the consumer can try these beverages free of charge. However, a liquor store may not simply have a tasting event. Instead, a licensee must comply with ABC regulations under N.J.A.C. 13:2-37.1. Failure to comply with these regulations may result in administrative charges filed by the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control and will carry potential suspension of your license.
For more information on tasting events or to speak with an experienced New Jersey ABC attorney, call 732.858.5857 today. Our former Deputy Attorney General can assist you with any questions or cases related to New Jersey’s Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
Rules for Hosting a Tasting Event at My Retail Distribution License
“Tasting event” means a scheduled event hosted by a licensee or permittee, at which samples may be provided, that may be open to the general public or limited by invitation. Tasting events are subject to the following requirements under N.J.A.C. 12:2-37.1:
- The licensee must have a valid, active Plenary Retail Distribution License (44) and all tasting events hosted by a Distribution Licensee must be on a complimentary (no charge) basis.
- Tasting events are confined to the retail licensed premises and all alcoholic beverage products used in the tasting event must be owned by and from the inventory of the host licensee conducting the tasting.
- Distribution licensees holding a tasting event must notify the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control in writing at least ten days in advance of conducting a tasting event describing the place and time of event as well as products to be featured at the event. Notice must be in the form of an email to ABC.TASTINGS@LPS.STATE.NJ.US setting out the time, date, license number and trade name of the alcoholic beverage being sampled.
- Tasting events may be limited by invitation or open to the general public. A tasting event shall consist of only one category of samples at a time and there must be a two-hour interval between tasting events on any licensed premises. The categories for tasting events are: malt alcoholic beverages, wine, or distilled spirits.
- In any one calendar day, servings of alcoholic beverages per person are limited to:
No more than four three-ounce samples of a particular malt alcoholic beverage; or
No more than four one-and one-half ounce samples of wine; or
No more than three one-half ounce samples of distilled spirits.
- Tasting events shall not be offered to any person under the legal age for consuming alcoholic beverages or to intoxicated persons.
- Tasting events are not to be offered when the sale of alcoholic beverages is otherwise prohibited.
- Tasting events may be advertised in any type of media, including but not limited to, print, radio, television, Internet and signs, and these advertisements may include the date, time and location of the event, such as the name and address of the licensed premises and other information regarding the event.
- A licensed supplier, manufacturer, importer, wholesaler, solicitor or authorized representative licensed or permitted by the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control may provide the licensee, upon whose premises the tasting event will be held, with permissible advertising and promotional materials for use at the event and permissible consumer novelties for distribution to consumers attending the event.
- Sampling/Tasting events may not take place at a “bar”.
- Only snack foods or hors d’oeuvres may be served at a tasting event and all food served must be provided by the retail distribution licensee to consumers without charge.
- Any licensed or permitted supplier, manufacturer, importer, wholesaler, solicitor or an authorized representative licensed or permitted by the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control may participate in, assist with, and promote consumer wine, beer, and spirits tasting events up to two times per month at a licensed premises. However, samples shall not be served by any employee of a wholesale licensee that sells alcoholic beverage products directly to retailers; nor may they take orders or solicit sales to consumers. For purposes of this section:
A wholesale licensee is one who sells to retailers and files a CPL (Current Price List) with the Division; and
An authorized representative includes those individuals covered by a Special Marketing Agent Permit.
- To participate in any tasting event, a supplier, manufacturer, importer, wholesaler, solicitor or an authorized representative licensed or permitted by the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control, must have a Consumer Tasting Permit for Wholesale Licensees (CTW). The fee for the CTW permit shall be $200 and an additional $200 permit for each solicitor or duly authorized representative.
- Distribution licensees utilizing a sampling kiosk or automatic dispenser for sampling are subject to these tasting regulations and are responsible for the monitoring of such activity.
Liquor License Attorneys in New Jersey
These rules and regulations are specific to Class “C” Retail Distribution Licensees (i.e. liquor store). For more information on compliance and hosting a tasting event, contact our law firm at 732.858.5857.