Beginning July 1, 2014, Idaho distilleries will be allowed to provide samples of their products at their manufacturing facilities, as has been permitted at breweries and wineries throughout the state of Idaho for quite some time. There are some conditions on the samples offered by a manufacturer: (1) the samples must be free; (2) samples must be offered on the premises of the manufacturer’s distillery site; (3) samples are limited to one-quarter of one ounce; (4) a person can only receive up to 3 samples in a 24-hour period; (5) samples must be served by a person over the age of 21. In addition, the manufacturer must purchase the distilled spirits from the Idaho State Liquor Division, and pay all appropriate taxes on the purchased samples.

The change in the law, which passed through the Idaho legislature on March 13, is prompted by the opportunities for state and agricultural suppliers to increase revenue and employment opportunities in Idaho.

Prior to the legislative change, visitors of Idaho distilleries could view the distilling process, but they could not taste or consume any of the spirits. As a result, Idaho distilleries lost the opportunity sales from the potential customers who toured their facilities, and there was likely a reduced interest in distillery tours without the opportunity to sample the product on the tour. Product samples are expected to boost product sales from those who embark on the distillery tours, as well as make the tour a more compelling marketing tool for the distilleries.

The new law impacts not only the current eight Idaho distilleries, but the future of the Idaho distillery market. Idaho’s willingness to respond legislatively to the distilleries business needs is a positive sign of support from an otherwise conservative state.

The Idaho State Liquor Division controls the importation, distribution, sale and consumption of distilled spirits in Idaho. The ISLD is responsible for balancing the curtailment of excessive use of alcohol while maximizing the revenues to the citizens of Idaho. Manufacturers of distilled spirits must be licensed in Idaho, which is overseen by the ISLD and licensed by the alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB).