Florida distilleries must be careful about how they participate in festivals. It’s not as easy as just showing up with the booze.
The Florida Beverage Law and regulations are terribly inadequate when it comes to festivals or other sampling events. There are different rules for beer, wine, and spirits. And there’s inconsistency about enforcing any of the rules, so it’s easy to find situations that are in direct conflict with the statutes. Even so, Florida distilleries wanting to participate in festivals should know what the Florida Beverage Law says about their participation.
What Florida Law Says About Festival Participation
For Florida distilleries, the only legally sanctioned tasting opportunity (outside of a craft distillery’s own gift shop) is through a licensed distributor or vendor who is providing samples on a licensed vendor premises. See Florida Statutes Section 565.17.
In the typical festival situation, a municipal agency or non-profit organization obtains a One-Day Permit (ODP) to sell beer, wine, or spirits on the festival premises. In this situation, the festival organizer could sell admission to the festival or sell samples by the glass, and the spirituous beverages would have to be provided by a distributor or the organizer (which can purchase through the distributor or through another licensed vendor).
Distillery Employees Can (Probably) Participate in Pour Samples
Florida’s Tied House Evil Law puts severe restrictions on the direct interaction between distilleries (as well as breweries and wineries) and vendors, including vendors licensed to operate a festival or testing event. This rules out distilleries’ direct participation, but it should not keep a distillery’s employees (specifically, those who are not on the distillery’s alcoholic beverage license as an owner or manager) from assisting a festival organizer with the event.
When giving out samples at a festival, distillery employees should act as independent contractors or volunteers for the festival organizer, who is the licensed vendor, or the distributor. Distillery employees can be paid for their service at a festival–by the festival organizer, distributor or distillery–but it should be clearly understand that they during the event they are acting as agents for the organizer or the distributor, and not the distillery.
Do you have questions about how your distillery can participate in festivals or questions about how to organizer a compliant festival? We’d love to discuss it with you. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a 15-minute introductory call at no charge.
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