DISCUS

BYE BYE BLUE LAWS: MASS. OKAYS LIQUOR TASTINGS

January 23, 2003 07:00 PM
BOSTON — Under new state regulations released yesterday, Massachusetts became the 25th state to allow liquor tastings—and the 5th in the last 12 months--accelerating the hot consumer trend of sampling premium and super premium products in package stores, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States. “Massachusetts is the latest state to recognize consumers’ growing interest in trying premium spirits products,” said Council President Dr. Peter H. Cressy. “Retailers can now host trendy and enjoyable spirits tastings like wine tastings that have been held across the country for years.” The Council has spearheaded passage of recent tastings legislation in New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and now Massachusetts, making the Northeast consumers and retailers a focal point of the national sampling trend. The push for legislative changes to allow liquor tastings began several years ago as retailers and industry leaders noticed that rising interest in premium and super-premium brands was driving spirits sales growth and profits. “In 1990, super-premium brands comprised ten percent of sales,” said Richard Cardoza, owner of Cardoza’s Wine and Spirits in New Bedford, Fall River and Dartmouth. “Over the past two years, they hit 20 percent. Tasting events are important for retailers because our customers now have the opportunity to try new products before purchasing them.” Under the new law, signed by the Governor January 1st, but not effective until yesterday’s regulatory notice, Massachusetts adult consumers can now taste up to three one-quarter ounce samples of distilled spirits at pre-planned tastings events in local package stores. Beer and wine are also included under the law. In addition, Cressy noted, expert company representatives can participate in the events to educate consumers about the subtle nuances of single barrel bourbons, single malt scotches, flavored vodkas and other high end products. "Passage of this key piece of legislation now makes it possible for consumers to sample all types of beverage alcohol in their local package stores, and purchases can be made with confidence,” said Frank Anzalotti, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Package Store Association. “MassPack and the Distilled Spirits Council have worked tirelessly on this bill, and it is both refreshing and rewarding to see that good things can result from a team effort." The regulations are scheduled to be posted at the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission at www.state.ma.us/abcc. Cressy is the former chancellor of UMass Dartmouth. The Distilled Spirits Council is a strong advocate of responsibility and moderation. CONTACT: Frank Coleman or Lisa Hawkins Telephone: 202-682-8840 SCROLLER Publication Name: Publication Author:
 

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