DISCUS Applauds R.I. Repeal of Tasting Ban

Rhode Islanders can raise a toast to the repeal of an old blue law banning spirits tastings at liquor stores, according to the Distilled Spirits Council which praised Governor Chafee for signing legislation yesterday allowing consumer spirits tastings. The Council called the move the latest in a trend of liquor law modernizations around the country.

“States across the country are updating their liquor laws to reflect modern convenience and demand,” says DISCUS vice president Jay Hibbard, noting that Rhode Island becomes the 11th state since 2009 to allow spirits tastings at liquor stores for a total of 38 states. “Spirits tastings are a responsible marketing tool that generates revenue for the state by boosting consumer interest in premium products. We applaud Governor Chafee for signing this bill which benefits consumers, small businesses and the State Treasury.”

The joint file bill (Senate Bill 477/House Bill 5795) gives adult consumers the opportunity to sample spirits during a controlled, pre-planned tasting event—allowing up to two 1/4 ounce samples of no more than two products at any one tasting event. SB 477 passed the Senate on April 25 by a 37-0 vote and passed the House June 26 by 70-0. HB 5795 passed the House on June 26 by 72-0 and passed the Senate on July 1 by 35-0. The bill became effective immediately upon Gov. Chafee’s signature. 

“In today’s economy it’s more important than ever to give customers the tools to make better purchasing decisions,” Hibbard says.  “Repealing the ban on spirits tastings is a modern convenience for Rhode Island consumers that ultimately helps the state’s bottom line.”

In addition to Rhode Island, 10 other states have allowed spirits tastings since 2009, including: Kansas (2012), West Virginia (2012), Tennessee (2011), Washington (2011), New Jersey (2010), Virginia (2010), California (2010), Michigan (2010), Maine (2009), and Vermont (2009).

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