The Province is supporting increased consumer choice and encouraging the growth of B.C. small businesses by modernizing policy to allow any establishment that sells liquor to provide samples in a socially responsible manner.
In response to feedback from British Columbians and small businesses through the Liquor Policy Review, government has increased the maximum sample size, giving customers a better sense of the taste before deciding whether they would like to purchase full sized liquor products.
Liquor and wine stores are also permitted to charge for samples to help recoup the costs of expensive products. These retailers will also be permitted to have two manufacturers or liquor agents provide samples in-store at one time.
These changes will benefit wine stores, private liquor stores, licensed restaurants, pubs, bars and nightclubs and liquor agents as well as consumers, and build on previous work done by the Province to make it easier for retailers to market products in an economical and socially responsible way, including:
- Permitting licensees to offer time-limited drink specials (e.g., happy hours), provided the price is not below the prescribed minimum consistent with those advocated by health advocates.
- Allowing manufacturers to offer patrons liquor that was not produced on site (e.g., wineries can now sell beer to visitors).
- Permitting B.C. liquor manufacturers to offer products for sample and sale at temporary off-site locations like artisan and farmer’s markets.
- Allowing patrons to buy bottles of liquor to take home that are showcased at festivals or competitions.
John Yap, Parliamentary Secretary for Liquor Policy Reform –
“We heard throughout the Liquor Policy Review that reforming B.C.’s liquor policy would require some large sweeping changes as well as smaller updates like this one that make a big difference for businesses. Today’s announcement is an important step forward to modernizing our liquor laws in a way that makes sense for consumers, retailers, and manufacturers.”
Poma Dhaliwal, president of ABLE BC –
“Samples are a great way for our members to introduce customers to new and exciting products. These changes will allow liquor stores, restaurants, and pubs to improve the way they interact with their customers, and expand business opportunities for liquor retailers across B.C.”
Trent Anderson, president of Everything Wine Stores –
"Providing wine samples to our customers is fundamental to their journey and discovery process in wine. The changes to the policy announced here today allow for retailers like Everything Wine to improve our customer's access to sampling terrific new wines from B.C. and the rest of the world. Regulations that also allow for a retailer, at their discretion, to charge a small tasting fee will provide more opportunities to sample customers on expensive, iconic wines that wouldn't normally be financially viable to open."
Randy Wilson, president of BC Private Liquor Store Association –
“The BC Private Liquor Store Association and our members across the province welcome this new policy. It is clear the provincial government recognizes how this will assist our members and enhance their customers’ shopping experience.”
Richard Loewen, executive director of Import Vintners and Spirits Association –
“The Import Vintners and Spirits Association is pleased with this policy update and the Government’s commitment to modernizing B.C.’s liquor laws. We believe this provides a great benefit to B.C.’s consumers and industry by providing a better opportunity to experience the incredible selection of beverages available in British Columbia.”
- Prior to these changes, samples sizes were small and varied in size depending on circumstances, making it difficult for retailers to offer proper tastings.
- The new maximum sample size has increased to one half of a full serving – 75ml for wine, 175ml for beer, and 20ml for spirits – per person, per day and divided as the licensee chooses.
- These changes implement Liquor Policy Review recommendation number 59.
- To date, 42 of the 73 Liquor Policy Review recommendations have been implemented. Work to continue implementing additional recommendations is ongoing.
- Read the full list of Liquor Policy Review recommendations: www2.gov.bc.ca/local/haveyoursay/Docs/liquor_policy_review_report.pdf