New Liquor Tasting Policy

Alberta Completed First Review in 20 years

Whether it’s the frosty malt of an Alberta beer or the smoothness of an Alberta whiskey, consumers now have expanded options when it comes to liquor tastings. The Alberta Gaming & Liquor Commission (AGLC) has conducted its first review of the liquor tasting policy in two decades. The review included an evaluation of existing policy and consultations with industry associations.
Thanks to the feedback received, the AGLC has now better defined what a liquor tasting is. A liquor tasting is an activity that allows patrons the opportunity to taste featured liquor products. Class A, B, C, D and E liquor licensees are permitted to conduct tastings provided minors are not provided liquor, no one is being served a product to the point of intoxication, and tasting records are provided to the AGLC upon request.
A 2018 addition to the serving requirements is that servers must have their ProServe certification. Should employees need to obtain or update their certification, they can do so through the AGLC SMART Training website.
What’s needed when documenting tasting records? The name of the liquor products tasted, the quantity served and the licensee’s cost for the products, dates and times of the tasting, fee to patrons, and an itemized list of staffing, educational and food costs.
Updates have also been made to the policy reflecting how much the licensee can serve customers for each tasting. The largest allowable amount of beer that can be served remains four ounces. Increasing to four ounces are ciders and refreshment beverages such as coolers and premixed drinks (up from two ounces). Wine has also increased, with the allowable serving limit now at two ounces and spirits and liqueurs will remain at 1/2 ounce.
Following the recent changes, Class D licensees can now conduct their own liquor tastings without a liquor agency present. But now on the menu for Class D licensees are appetizer-sized food portions. Establishments can allow customers to pair their serving with food. Should they incur any costs associated with items such as the liquor products being tasted, appetizer-sized food portions being served, or education and staffing costs, licensees are now able to charge a fee to the patron.
Staffing costs have also been updated, moving to $25 an hour. Previously it was $20.
Liquor agencies are now able to provide an unfinished product from a previous tasting at a different location, should the licensee give the okay to do so.
A Class D licensee may conduct a free tasting on behalf of an agency if the two sides have a written Buy/Sell Agreement that is signed before the tasting begins. That agreement must specify the date, time and location of the tasting, identify the liquor product that will be offered along with the quantity and the licensee’s cost, and identify staffing costs specific to the tasting. In this case, the agency representing the product may not be involved in the tasting.
The licensee may be reimbursed by the liquor agency for costs incurred during the tasting. Those costs must be associated with items such as staffing and the cost of the product being tasted. Licensees are not allowed to increase costs to create a profit.
These improvements have been met with positive feedback from the Canadian Vintners Association, Spirits Canada, and the Alberta Liquor Store Association, who all provided input into the policy.
To learn more about the new additions and changes to the liquor tasting policy, visit