Purpose of Practice
To provide excellent service to distilled spirits customers in Oregon. • To allow distilleries opportunities to introduce their products to liquor store customers.
Description of Practice
Since 2004, the OLCC has allowed sponsors to conduct distilled spirits tastings in Oregon liquor stores. The liquor store agent has the sole discretion to allow the tasting, designed to promote the sponsor’s products. OLCC sets the standards for the tastings, as follows: (1) Sample Sizes, Number of Samples per Customer. The size of each distilled spirits sample must not exceed one-quarter ounce per sample. Tastings are limited to two samples per customer per tasting session. A sponsor may not provide more than one-half ounce total of distilled spirits samples per customer per day. (2) The product(s) provided for tastings must be available for sale at the retail liquor store where the tasting occurs at the time of the tasting. (3) Identified Tasting Area. Retail liquor agents who allow tastings at their retail liquor store must identify a specific tasting area. The area must be of a size and design such that the person(s) conducting the tasting can observe and control persons in the area to ensure no minors or visibly intoxicated persons possess or consume alcohol. Customers must remain in the tasting area until they have finished consuming the sample(s). In exclusive retail liquor stores, the tasting area may be the entire retail liquor store. In non-exclusive retail liquor stores, the retail sales agent must identify a tasting area, and keep on file at the retail liquor store a floor plan sketch identifying the tasting area. (4) Duration of Tastings Allowed. Tastings are limited to a maximum of three consecutive hours per sponsor per retail liquor store per day. Only one sponsor at a time may conduct tastings in a retail liquor store. (5) Server Requirements. Alcohol servers must have valid Oregon service permits. (6) Record Keeping. The sponsor must keep a record of each tasting they conduct, including the date and location of each event, the products served, and the names of the servers. The sponsor must retain records of tastings for one year. (7) Sponsor responsibilities. Sponsors must: (a) Provide the product to be tasted, and remove any remaining product at the end of the tasting; (b) Provide or pay for a person to serve the distilled spirits being tasted. The server must be a sponsor or an employee or agent of the sponsor; (c) Not compensate the retail liquor agent, or any employee or agent of the retail liquor agent to participate in the tasting; and (d) Not advertise the tasting outside of the retail liquor store. (8) Retail Sales Agent Responsibilities. Retail liquor agents: (a) Must not advertise the tasting outside the retail liquor store; and (b) Are responsible for liquor law violations occurring in the retail liquor store which are not related to the tasting. (9) Violations Associated with the Tasting. In the case of a liquor law violation associated with tasting (for example, service of a sample to a minor or a visibly intoxicated person), both the server and the sponsor may be held responsible for violations of Oregon liquor laws which occur due to or during the tasting. Violations which occur due to a sponsor or server violating the law will not be charged to the retail liquor agent.
Success or Improvements
Liquor store agents build excitement in the store when the tasting occurs. They report that additional sales are generated from the tasting event. Overall acceptance of tastings, by customers, agents and distillers, has been remarkable.
Evaluation of the Practice
OLCC has met with distillers and the distillers agreed that this promotional tool has helped to drive individual brand sales. Tastings are also an effective way to introduce new items to the customers. OLCC has a 2010 goal to have all distilleries track tasting product sales and report back to the OLCC with sales results.
Customer comments to liquor agents have been all positive. Many customers have said that they will return to the store so they can try new products
Name: Brian Flemming, OLCC Retail Services Director
Address: 9079 SE McLoughlin Blvd., Portland, OR 9722