View Full Version : New to Tennessee Whiskey

04-04-2009, 19:51
While sailing my boat one day I wondered:

Does Tennessee Whiskey have to be made in Tennessee to be called Tennessee Whiskey?

04-04-2009, 21:53
While sailing my boat one day I wondered:

Does Tennessee Whiskey have to be made in Tennessee to be called Tennessee Whiskey?

I think to be a Tennessee Whiskey it has to have all the same rules as bourbon plus go through what is known as the Lincoln County Process. Which is being filtered though 10 feet of charcoal made of maple wood prior to being barreled. I think if it was made out side Tennessee you would have to call it Tennessee style whiskey or something like that, just like if you make bourbon out side Kentucky you can't call it Kentucky Bourbon but you can still call it bourbon. Only two Brands of Tennessee whiskey are Jack Daniels and George Dickel.

04-04-2009, 21:57
I don't believe that Tennessee whiskey is a legally recognized/protected sub-species of American whiskey. I don't recall seeing it in the federal regs at all. There may be something on the books in Tennessee, but it would not be binding elsewhere.

04-05-2009, 11:35
Tennessee Whiskey is not a legally defined term in the regs, but Jack Daniel's got a letter from the Treasurey Department in 1941 recognizing it as a distinct genre of American whiskey or something like that (Chuck Cowdery writes about this in this book).

Even if you were to use the Lincoln County process outside of Tenneessee, I don't think you could call your product Tennessee Whiskey, as a truth in advertising matter. You might be able to call it Tennessee-Style whiskey, but I'm guessing Mssrs. Daniels and Dickel would have something to say about that to the regultory agencies.

Of course, I'm guessing nobody would try such a thing, because Tennessee Whiskey, as a term, doesn't have the same marketing resonance that Bourbon does.

04-06-2009, 06:53
There is an international "distinctive spirits product" treaty that does recognize TN whiskey as a distinctive product of the U.S. but I doubt there is any legal framework beyond that and the treasury dept. letter.

All that said, like sku pointed out, the producer of any product cannot legally say it is made in place X if it is really made in place Y. Calling something a TN whiskey when it is not made in TN would seem to violate that. Maybe somebody could get around it by calling their product a TN- style whiskey, but that would be an invitation to a lawsuit, I would think.

04-06-2009, 07:09
I've been waiting for Chuck to chime in here, because he can quote chapter and verse better than I, but -- while there are not federal regulations defining "Tennessee whiskey" (other than the 'whiskey' part), the trade agreements Josh alludes to DO require that whiskey designated such be made in Tennessee.

04-06-2009, 09:56
From my reading of the TTB regs, you can have a place name on the brand label that is different from the actual distillation source as long as the real place of distillation (name and address) is revealed elsewhere on the bottle on either the brand label or the back label.

This assumes that Tennessee Whiskey is not a protected species.

04-07-2009, 22:05
I think Tennessee Whisky is protected. I remeber somthing about that when I went to the JD distillery. It defines the percentage of grains used, the Lincoln County Process and the years it is aged, among other things.

Bourbon Geek
04-08-2009, 04:59
While there is not a specific type of whiskey defined in the US regulations as "Tennessee Whiskey" ... the word "Tennessee" is considered to be a geographical designation ... meaning that you can't put the words "Tenessee Whiskey" on the bottle unless the whiskey is made in Tennessee.

Similarly, while bourbon can be made anywhere in the United States ... you can't call it "Kentucky Bourbon" unless it was made in Kentucky.

Now, what constitutes "made in ..." is a different story. 27 CFR 5.22 (k) says ...

"(k) Class 11; geographical designations. (1) Geographical names for distinctive types of distilled spirits (other than names found by the appropriate TTB officer under paragraph (k)(2) of this section to have become generic) shall not be applied to distilled spirits produced in any other place than the particular region indicated by the name, unless (i) in direct conjunction with the name there appears the word “type” or the word “American” or some other adjective indicating the true place of production, in lettering substantially as conspicuous as such name, and (ii) the distilled spirits to which the name is applied conform to the distilled spirits of that particular region. The following are examples of distinctive types of distilled spirits with geographical names that have not become generic: Eau de Vie de Dantzig (Danziger Goldwasser), Ojen, Swedish punch. Geographical names for distinctive types of distilled spirits shall be used to designate only distilled spirits conforming to the standard of identity, if any, for such type specified in this section, or if no such standard is so specified, then in accordance with the trade understanding of that distinctive type."