US: New Jersey to allow spirits tastings in liquor stores

11 January, 2010

The New Jersey State Legislature has passed a bill allowing consumers to sample distilled spirits at liquor stores.

The news came from the Distilled Spirits Council, which applauded the legislation and called New Jersey tastings ‘the latest in a trend of states modernising liquor laws across the country.’

Both Vermont and Maine passed similar liquor tasting bills in 2009 and council vice president Jay Hibbard said: "Nationwide, states are updating alcohol laws to improve business operations and give customers added convenience at a time when it's all very much-needed.

"Consumer tasting events are a widely-accepted means to let customers 'try before they buy.'"

Senate Bill 2098, sponsored by Senators Paul A. Sarlo and Sean T. Kean, gives adult consumers the opportunity to sample up to three separate one-half ounce servings of spirits in any one calendar day at a pre-planned tasting event. The bill has passed the full Assembly by a vote of 74-2 having already passed the Senate June 25th by a count of 34-3. The bill now moves to Governor Corzine's desk for signature and, once signed, will take effect May 1.

Hibbard said: "Spirits consumers are fascinated by cocktail culture and curious about how to discern between the 5,000 spirits products on the market."

President of the New Jersey Liquor Stores Alliance Fred Leighton added: "We are very excited to offer limited samplings of beer and spirits to further educate our consumers."

Forty-three states currently allow some form of spirits tasting. Twenty-nine states including New Jersey now allow spirits tastings at off-premise establishments - including neighboring states New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware.