West Virginia Governor Signs Spirits Tasting Legislation

Charleston, WV – West Virginians have reason to cheer as Governor Earl Ray Tomblin signed legislation on Friday allowing consumers to sample liquor at distilled spirits outlets, a move the Distilled Spirits Council (DISCUS) called the latest in a trend of liquor law modernizations across the country.

“States across the country are updating their liquor laws to reflect modern convenience and demand,” said DISCUS Vice President David Wojnar, noting that West Virginia joins neighboring states Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia in allowing tasting events at restaurants, bars and now liquor stores. “Spirits tastings are a responsible marketing tool that ultimately generates revenue for the state by boosting consumer interest in premium products. We applaud Governor Tomblin for signing this bill into law,” Wojnar added.

House Bill 3174, sponsored by State Rep. Bonnie Brown, gives adult consumers the opportunity to sample up to one ounce of spirits during a pre-planned tasting event. The bill passed the House on February 20; passed the Senate on March 10; and was signed into law on March 30. The new law takes effect June 8.

Wojnar noted that five “control states” recently have modernized liquor laws to allow spirits tastings at distilled spirits outlets, including: Washington (2011), Michigan (2010), Virginia (2010), Maine (2009) and Vermont (2009).  West Virginia becomes the 9th state since 2009 to allow spirits tastings at liquor stores for a total of 36 states, according to DISCUS. Seven other states are considering spirits tasting legislation in 2012, including: Georgia, Kansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Utah, and Wisconsin.

“Spirits consumers are fascinated by cocktail culture and curious about how to discern between the 5,000 spirits products on the market,” Wojnar said. “In today’s economy customers want to know what a particular Single Malt Scotch or Bourbon tastes like before spending $40-$50 on a bottle.”