I have heard distributor licensees use the terms “sampling” and “tasting” almost interchangeably, but there are differences between the two.  A sampling promotion is intended to introduce consumers to a manufacturer’s product. Samplings must adhere to the following criteria: (1) samples may be provided by the manufacturer’s representatives and distributor or importing distributor licensees to licensed and unlicensed customers; (2) samples must be in unopened containers of the smallest commercially available size (i.e., 12-oz can or bottle); (3) the providing of such samples cannot be conditioned upon any purchase requirement; (4) samples are limited to one container per patron in any offering; and (5) samples may not be opened or consumed on a distributor premises.

Tasting or tasting events are different from sampling promotions, and are defined in the Board’s regulations as presentations of alcoholic products to the public for the purpose of market research, disseminating product information and education to the public as to quality and availability of such products. Tastings may be conducted by licensed brokers, distributors, importing distributors and manufacturers or their agents upon licensed or unlicensed premises. Any products used must be properly procured and registered, and taxes on the products must be paid. There can be no purchase requirement associated with such tasting. There can be no cooperative advertising associated with a tasting event. Finally, no more than one standard-sized alcoholic beverage of each product shall be provided to each tasting participant.  A standard-size serving of beer is twelve (12) fluid ounces. More detailed information about samplings and tastings is available on the Board’s website in Advisory Notice No. 10.