AGLC Tastings During COVID-19. Dated July 3rd, 2020

The AGLC has received inquiries around the activity of Tastings.  This e-mail is to clarify some of the issues around tastings during the Public Health Order, in particular, the ability to conduct Virtual tastings.

In-Store Tastings:

We have received clarification from AHS on the ability to conduct tastings in store during the emergency measures for COVID-19.  Organized tastings may be conducted, however the guidance for restaurants provided by AHS (attached) should be adhered to.  This may limit the normal amount of participants to maintain social distancing, and any food service will have to be done individually, not buffet style or self-service.  Please contact Alberta Health Services Environmental Public Health Complaint Link, or call 1-833-415-9179 if you have any questions regarding this.

Virtual Tastings:

In summary, AGLC does not have any issues with this activity so long as it is conducted within the parametres of policy and legislation. 

Liquor for virtual tastings must be obtained from a valid class D Licensee, such as a Retail Liquor Store, or Manufacturer’s Off Sales.  Agents may not sell, deliver or otherwise provide liquor directly to customers for the purpose of Virtual tastings.

Repackaging of a product may not occur to accommodate Virtual tastings, unless conducted by a valid Class E licensee.  Agents, Liquor store staff, and staff of other licensed classes, are not permitted to repackage and redistribute liquor not supplied in a bulk format.  Only certain products, (such as draught beer) are eligible to be repackaged from a bulk format, into alternative containers, such as growlers.  I’ve recently had a discussion on this issue with our contact from Excise and it was further indicated that repackaging spirits w/o the appropriate Excise Licensing (designation as a Spirit producer) would be contrary to federal legislation as well.


Section 4.2.7 of the Retail Liquor Store Handbook states:

4.2.7 Liquor products must be sold in sealed containers as supplied by the liquor  supplier  or  liquor  agent.    Special  considerations  exist  for draught beer and bulk wine sales, including:

a) the cap design should enable the purchaser to demonstrate that the container has not been opened during transportation; b) available quantities and related prices must be clearly displayed; 

c) disposable  containers  are  acceptable,  however,  a  container deposit  may  become  necessary  to  ensure  environmental concerns are addressed; and d) the  federal  government  sets  standards  in  areas  such  as acceptable container material and labelling content.

Options: As it is recognized that many liquor stores ceased tastings under the direction of AHS to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the price of certain full sized products are cost prohibitive for the purpose of virtual tastings, I recommend the following be explored by anyone interested in virtual tastings:

Suppliers-If they cannot provide smaller sizes from the original facility, then there is still the option to contract a Class E Packager or Manufacturer in the province to blend and package on their behalf.  Contact Toni Hazelwood ( for more information on this process.

Agents-should get in touch with the suppliers they are representing and inquire if alternative sizes are available for the purposes of supplying liquor licensees with these smaller bottles to conduct virtual tastings.
Retail Liquor Stores-‘Organized tastings’ are the ones where there is a room or space set aside where customers who have purchased a ticket to the tasting event go.  There is usually information on the product as well as several tastings of different brands of that product.  For example, a whiskey tasting or a Chilean wine tasting event.  Organized tastings can be done if the organizer follows the COVID-19 Guidance for Restaurants, Cafes, Pubs & Bars.  Floor tastings on the other hand, are where a vendor or salesperson has a table in the middle of the store and is handing out free samples to whomever wants one.  At this time, floor tastings are not allowed by AHS.
General Public-Purchase the next available size configuration, if no smaller sizes are available, consider a group buy-but don’t repackage and distribute your purchased bottle-again this is an activity that requires both Federal and Provincial licensing. 

Darcy Strang. Senior Manager, Inspections North, Regulatory Services

P 780.447.7498    F 780.447.8692

Toll Free 1-800-272-8876      

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50 Corriveau Avenue, St. Albert, AB  T8N 3T5