Distillery Marketing Questioned by Tennessee ABC

Distillery Marketing Questioned by Tennessee ABC

This Friday, January 24, 2014, we confirmed that the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission finds many popular distillery marketing campaigns prohibited under Tennessee law.  Distilleries are marketing directly to consumers at bars and package stores in ways that violate state law.

Sammy Hagar's 1999 tune captures the problem:

I say, one shot! Hey! Mas Tequila
Two shots! Hey! Hey! Que veneno
Three shots! Hey! Arriba! Hey! Hey! Hey! Mas Tequila!
Distillery marketing in Tennessee has not seen scrutiny from the ABC for as long as we can remember.  A few high-profile abuses of the system have focused ABC attention on the industry.

The ABC and local police have investigated a few parties where promoters did not have liquor licenses and distilleries provided free product. These were clearly illegal.

Having found some flagrant violations, the ABC is taking a closer look at distillery marketing practices in general.  What flies in most states is illegal in Tennessee.

In Tennessee, a distillery or winery can educate consumers about a product, but cannot give away samples or pour drinks.  Technically, a licensed wholesaler may be required to accompany a distillery or winery representative visiting a restaurant or liquor store, although this point is the subject of debate among industry and the ABC.

Based on what we know, manufacturers and wineries are violating the law.


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