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  1. #21
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    Re: Templeton Labeling, or Another TTB failure

    Quote Originally Posted by Leopold View Post
    Age statement is only required for Straight Whiskey.
    Leopold, is that what you've heard from the TTB? It's certainly not what the regs say:

    27 CFR 5.40(a):

    (a) Statements of age and percentage for whisky. In the case of straight whisky bottled in conformity with the bottled in bond labeling requirements and of domestic or foreign whisky, whether or not mixed or blended, all of which is 4 years old or more, statements of age and percentage are optional. As to all other whiskies there shall be stated the following:

    (1) In the case of whisky, whether or not mixed or blended but containing no neutral spirits, the age of the youngest whisky. The age statement shall read substantially as follows: ___ years old.


  2. #22
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    Re: Templeton Labeling, or Another TTB failure

    Quote Originally Posted by Leopold View Post
    Age statement is only required for Straight Whiskey.
    Wow, thanks for making my point.
    Life's too short, and there's too much good whiskey within reach.

  3. #23
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    Re: Templeton Labeling, or Another TTB failure

    Respectfully, I'm very aware of the in's and outs of the CFR's. They are poorly written and often contradictory.

    The section that SKU cites refers to HOW the age statement should read if you use it. Not that you MUST use age statements.

    If the phrase As to all other whiskies there shall be stated the following means that you MUST put an age statement on a whiskey label, explain why you've never seen an age statement on a corn whiskey label or a flavored whiskey label. Both are whiskies according to the CFR's. In point of fact, you can't put an age statement on a flavored whiskey label. The section

    To answer your question directly SKU, i received my information from the TTB in person many years ago at their Cincinnati office. In addition, I have COLA's tied to formula approvals which state quite clearly what the age of the whiskies are... that they are under 2 years old and are therefore not straight whiskies. The TTB knows exactly how old our NAS whiskies are. We don't screw around with the TTB.

  4. #24
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    Re: Templeton Labeling, or Another TTB failure

    The federal regs are a little confusing, but the Beverage Alcohol Manual, which is intended to clarify the regs, is less so. There is a handy chart beginning on chapter 8, page 5, that lists the requirements by class and type. According to that, virtually all whiskies, straight or not, including corn, require age statements if under 4 years old. Flavored whiskey, as you've noted, is exceptional: it may not bear an age statement.

    So, I can't dispute what you've been told in person by the TTB, and I have no reason to doubt your account, but it conflicts with the TTB's own published guidelines.

    EDIT:

    To get to the original question, BAM pp. 1-15 and 1-16 clarifies the state of distillation issue as it relates to whiskeys.

    "The State of distillation must be specifically identified on the label IF:The whisky was not distilled in the State identified in the required name and
    address statement (see Item 4, “NAME AND ADDRESS” of this chapter)"
    Last edited by Brisko; 11-01-2012 at 08:55.
    Life's too short, and there's too much good whiskey within reach.

  5. #25
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    Re: Templeton Labeling, or Another TTB failure

    Quote Originally Posted by Brisko View Post
    The federal regs are a little confusing, but the Beverage Alcohol Manual, which is intended to clarify the regs, is less so.
    The BAM is a pamphlet, and nothing more. The CFR's are the controlling regs. Confused me, too, but the TTB set me straight in Cincinnati... focus on the CFR's.

    You won't find an age statement on corn whiskey labels, as an example.

    The other issue is that the TTB's institutional knowledge changes over time. As an example, they told me that the reg that vodka should be "without distinctive character, aroma, taste, or color" was relative. As in, it's without the character and aroma of other spirits... gin, whiskey, etc....

    They told another distiller, years later, that it's an absolute situation. In other words, vodka should have no taste or aroma. This is logically absurd, obviously, since that's describing distilled water. Vodka has a VERY distinctive aroma... the aroma of ethanol that even an inexperienced drinker can identify with ease.

    It's a complicated business, that's for certain. The TTB does the best that they can with what little resources they receive.

  6. #26
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    Re: Templeton Labeling, or Another TTB failure

    Thanks for your feedback Leopold. It's certainly not how I read the regs, but the TTB has a lot of latitude in their interpretations and it's always interesting to hear what they are saying to those in the industry who have to deal with them.

    I don't think the state of distillation rule affects you since I don't think you market any sourced whiskeys but it would be interested in hearing what they are saying to those who do about what has to appear on the label.

  7. #27
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    Re: Templeton Labeling, or Another TTB failure

    The regulator's interpretation of a regulation is of utmost importance and is often not clear from the text of the regulation itself. In my non-TTB regulatory realm anyway. It can be a maddening, Kafka-esque world.

  8. #28
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    Re: Templeton Labeling, or Another TTB failure

    Well, for my part I would have no problem putting an age statement on the whiskey if that's what they asked us to do.

    The State of distillation does not affect us, you are correct. In this case, I do believe that you and Brisko are correct that the bottlers are ignoring the rule. The TTB has to take them at their word.... unless they submit a formula, which is not required for whiskey COLA's. So the TTB isn't telling them anything, since the bottlers aren't telling them that they aren't making the whiskey. They aren't telling them anything about where the whiskey is distilled.... so there's nothing to rule on.
    Last edited by Leopold; 11-01-2012 at 10:17.

  9. #29
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    Re: Templeton Labeling, or Another TTB failure

    Quote Originally Posted by Leopold View Post
    The BAM is a pamphlet, and nothing more. The CFR's are the controlling regs. Confused me, too, but the TTB set me straight in Cincinnati... focus on the CFR's.

    You won't find an age statement on corn whiskey labels, as an example.

    The other issue is that the TTB's institutional knowledge changes over time. As an example, they told me that the reg that vodka should be "without distinctive character, aroma, taste, or color" was relative. As in, it's without the character and aroma of other spirits... gin, whiskey, etc....

    They told another distiller, years later, that it's an absolute situation. In other words, vodka should have no taste or aroma. This is logically absurd, obviously, since that's describing distilled water. Vodka has a VERY distinctive aroma... the aroma of ethanol that even an inexperienced drinker can identify with ease.

    It's a complicated business, that's for certain. The TTB does the best that they can with what little resources they receive.
    Well, I won't dispute that the TTB can and does interpret the rules however they want. And I'm willing to admit that I could be misreading the CFRs, too.

    With regard to corn whiskey, I know that Platte Valley has a 3 year old age statement. It is a straight corn whiskey though so maybe that makes a difference (although I can't find any exceptions for corn whiskey in the CFR other than not having to state "used cooperage.") The flavored whiskey exception is in there.

    I'm looking at the CFR, section 5.40 and it's very clear that all whisky (their spelling) under 4 years old must bear an age statement. Is there another section that makes other distinctions?
    Life's too short, and there's too much good whiskey within reach.

  10. #30
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    Re: Templeton Labeling, or Another TTB failure

    No reason to doubt what the TTB told you, but what they told you orally carries even less weight than the BAM, which is more of an official interpretation of the relevant regs. Perhaps the TTB has failed to (or chosen not to) enforce the regs cited by Sku, but the plain language pretty clearly commands that an age statement be used. The government is never precluded from enforcing the regs as written, and there is no "everybody is doing it" defense.

    Perhaps some of the confusion can be traced to a 1987 Treasury (52 Fed. Reg. 41419-02) decision in which the Department of the Treasury changed the regulations to permit mixtures of straight whiskies to be labeled "straight" as long as they were at least two years old. (There was previously a disparity that although "straight whiskey" needed only be two years old, mixtures of straight whiskey had to be at least four years old to be labeled as such.)

    Three industry members were strongly opposed to the proposal in Notice No. 523 to allow mixtures of straight whiskies, which are to be designated as “straight,” to be made up of straight whiskies all of which are at least two years old. This proposal was a relaxation of the current requirement that all whiskies in such mixtures be at least four years old or more. Since the definition of “straight whisky” states that it must have been stored in the prescribed type of oak containers for a period of two years or more, ATF feels that there is insufficient justification to require that mixtures of such whiskies be made of whiskies all of which are at least four years old if the mixtures are to be designated as “straight.” ATF feels that a minimum two year age requirement for all whiskies in the mixture is sufficient to designate the mixture as straight.” ATF feels that the labeling requirement in CFR 5.40 which requires the age of the youngest spirits be shown on the label if any of the spirits are less than four years old is sufficient protection for the consumer and will alert such consumer to the fact that the “straight whisky” in the bottle is less than four years old. It will then be up to the consumer to decide whether such “straight whisky,” which is less than four years old, is good enough to compete successfully with other “straight whiskies.” (Emphasis added)
    Although this decision was in the context to the definiton of straight whiskey, I don't think the ATF was saying that the Section 5.40 applies only to straight whiskey. I think they were saying that there is little danger in deceiving the customer regarding the age of the whiskey because all whiskey less than four years old must have an age statement anyway.

 

 

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