Free Booze for Tastings at Tennessee Restaurants and Bars?

By - January 13, 2015 | Alcoholic Beverage Law | Email Will Cheek

The Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission cracked down on free booze beginning July 1, 2014. We blogged about it here.

Distilleries, wineries, importers and other manufacturers can no longer give free product to wholesalers and retailers. This was a big change for the industry.

In the 2014 legislative session, as part of the ugly compromise that legalized wine in grocery stores (which we affectionately call “WIGS”), retail liquor stores were granted the right to accept free product from distilleries and importers, as we blogged here. All free product must pass though the wholesalers.

We thought that the new free-booze for tastings rule only applied to retail package stores – not restaurants, bars and other on-premise license holders. WIGS specifically applies to food stores and retail package stores.

The TABC appears to be interpreting the new free booze rule for tastings as applying to both on and off-premises retail licensees. If so, this is a huge benefit for restaurants and bars.

The TABC  has proposed regs out for informal comment on this and other issues. We will keep readers posted on updates.

Bruno Mars’ Liquor Store Blues comes to mind:

Standing at this liquor store
Whisky coming through my pores
Feeling like I run this whole block
Lotto tickets and cheap beer
That’s why you can catch me here
Tryna scratch my way up to the top

Tennessee ABC Releases Draft of New Rules for Consumer Tastings and Distillery Marketing

By - January 07, 2015 | Alcoholic Beverage Law | Email Will Cheek

The TABC has implemented a number of restrictions on the rights of distilleries, importers and other suppliers to market at restaurants, bars and package stores.  Until recently, the new rules were not written.  Often, industry members learned about the new rules when they were cited for violations and assessed large fines.  Uncertainty is a bad thing for the industry and rumors about new ABC rules were rampant – and often wildly incorrect.

We applaud the TABC for taking a first step toward proposing written rules for tastings and other related trade practices.  Attached is what TABC Director Keith Bell called “a very rough draft of our outline.”  Distiller-Rep-Memo-Outline-ABC-Regs-distilleDraft-01179350.docx

The Director asks for comments by January 15, and we encourage industry members to carefully analyze the proposed rules and comment to the Director via this link.

The new rules call to mind an Elvis Presley hit:

Well you got me working boss man
Working round the clock
I want to little drink of water