Three-Tier System

For more than 80 years, the three-tier system has demonstrated that government and private enterprise can work together in the best interest of the public. The 21st Amendment granted each state the right to control the importation, distribution and sale of alcohol within its borders. Ever since then, Tennessee has relied upon a three–tier distribution system that ensures the most tightly controlled and safe beverage alcohol environment for consumers. Here’s how it works:

  • Tier 1: Distillers, winemakers and brewers – who only sell to licensed distributors or wholesalers.
  • Tier 2: Tennessee-based licensed beverage distributors or wholesalers—who only sell to licensed retailers.
  • Tier 3: Licensed retailers – who only sell to customers over 21 in legal areas and only after the proper tax collection.

Role of the “Second Tier”

Years ago, Tennessee’s lawmakers were very careful to create a system where access to and control of alcohol went hand in hand. Lawmakers wanted to make certain that high proof alcohol—wine and spirits—was sold in an environment that was tightly controlled. As the second tier of the three-tier system, Tennessee wine and spirits wholesalers are a vital component to this structure.  Here’s how.

  • Quality control – Wholesalers are responsible for ensuring only quality, safe products from suppliers are sold in Tennessee.
  • Tax collection – Tennessee alcohol wholesalers collect more than $200 million in taxes that could otherwise be lost to the state.
  • Consumer safety – Because of Tennessee’s strong system, our rates of binge and heavy drinking are among the lowest in the country.

To learn more about Tennessee’s alcohol rules and regulations, click HERE.

To learn more about Tennessee’s alcohol laws, click HERE