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Archive for October, 2008

1792 Ridgemont Reserve

TTB frequently says vintage dates are not allowed on spirits. The rationale is:  subtle vintage characteristics do not survive distillation, and it is usually misleading to suggest otherwise. This bourbon label shows a prominent date, but seems to refrain from using the “vintage” term. The back label explains that 1792 is the year when Kentucky became the 15th state. The ad is from the October 24, 2008 Wall Street Journal.

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whisky


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The Mighty Mushroom

Just when we got accustomed to mushrooms in the entree, two companies in Korea went and added mushrooms to the beverage. Tannenbaum “Mushroom Sake” is Rice Wine with Rice Neutral Spirits and Mushroom. Song-I Ju is Grain Neutral Spirits with Natural Matsutake Mushroom Flavor.

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distilled spirits specialty, sake, wine specialty


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To Flame or Not: Czech Absinthe Hits the US

During the past 20 months TTB has approved several dozen absinthe brands. Almost all are produced in Switzerland, France, and the US — points west of the Czech Republic. Above shows two of the earliest-approved products made in the Czech Republic, approved a few days ago. This is significant due to a long rivalry between Czech and non-Czech absinthes. The Czech products are somewhat different, and these Stromu products show it well:  they have added flavors rather than herbs added before the final distillation; the proof is somewhat higher; Djabel suggests lighting the product on fire (back label). The latter is frowned upon by most other producers, to put it mildly. We would also expect many absinthe brands to fight over the trademark rights to the Green Fairy name; this term has long been applied to numerous absinthes all over the world. Here is a list of the first 20 or so absinthe products approved for US sale.

This also shows the massive leadtime sometimes required to bring an alcohol beverage product to market in the US. For Djabel: the importer got formula approval on July 11, 2008 (see item 11 on Djabel COLA); the importer probably applied for formula approval 1-2 months earlier, in May or June of 2008; TTB rejected a label submitted on August 8, 2008 (see item 18.d.); the importer resubmitted the label on September 3, 2008 (see item 20); and TTB finally approved the label on October 23, 2008 (see item 23). This is 5-6 months of hard work with many opportunities for missteps.

Finally, this well demonstrates the recurring trend, to portray alcohol beverages and especially asbinthe as sinful. Djabel’s back label says:

Djabel means “devil” in Czech. … During the dark-ages Bohemian “witches” and pagan worshipers used potions distilled from local herbs including wormwood (artemisa absinthium) as healing tonics and for social rituals. … please serve responsibly the traditional way by flambeing sugar in a spoon …

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absinthe


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Duff Beer Alert

A few days ago Liqurious reported a Duff Beer sighting. It appears to be the real thing. There is a video review at iFoods.tv and there is a Duff Beer website here. But alas, this beer will remain a figment of the cartoon. There is nothing very similar approved in the TTB database. The nearest thing is the above keg label, for the beer at Duff’s famous wing restaurant in Buffalo, New York (near and dear to Robert’s heart as it was a mile from the law school campus). We are unlikely to see Homer Simpson’s favorite beer anytime soon, at least in the US. Matt Groening (creator of The Simpsons TV show) has stated that he will not license the Duff trademark for a real beer, over concern that it would encourage kids to drink. Fox TV and Groening sued an Australian producer of Duff in 1995.

The court concluded:

My conclusion is that the breweries have engaged in a course of conduct calculated to achieve and exploit a strong association between their use of the name “Duff Beer” and “The Simpsons”, which in fact is deceptive, while at the same time, hoping to avoid legal liability. In fact, their hope of avoiding legal liability were not realised in that they have breached the Act and the charge of passing off has also been made out.

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malt beverage


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Pumpkin Spice, Cream Liqueur

Happy Halloween wishes are en route from Ryben Spirits, in King of Prussia, PA. We are tagging this Pumpkin Spice Cream Liqueur (made in Ireland) with “unusual ingredients.” But pumpkin is getting more and more common, in a variety of alcohol beverages. Here is Moccasin Bend Pumpkinseed Pale Ale. It is Ale Brewed with Roasted Pumpkin Seeds and bottled in Chattanooga, TN.

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cream liqueur, flavored malt beverage


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