101 Days


A short while ago I went to see why “that easy label” is still pending, after filing it while snow was still on the ground and waiting well past spring, into summer. I was shocked* and horrified to see the above. The average processing time for spirits labels is now, as of today, way past a month or two. I am startled to see it’s past 100 days. I don’t recall it ever getting past 45 days or so, back in the days of shutdowns, Rep. Gingrich fighting with President Clinton, Tea Partiers fighting President Obama, and so forth. I find myself talking about the same pending labels, over and over again, week after week and month after month.

It is starting to feel like a crisis for many spirits companies, so far as I can tell. Maybe the big ones can plan around this and tolerate this, but waits of this magnitude are devastating for most companies, from what I can see. Why all of a sudden? Wasn’t the power of the internet and computers, and streamlining, supposed to do approximately the opposite? For those highly interested, we have an internally prepared chart showing how this has gradually or not so gradually gotten worse over the past 7 years. It is available upon request.

May 30, 2014 Updatethis now says 69 days, rather than 101, and though painful, that makes a lot more sense.
June 1, 2014 Updateonly 62 days!

My main purpose in grabbing the above screenshot is to hold out the vague, possibly naive, hope that this will mark the low point, and things somehow will get better from here. I look forward to the day when it will be hard to believe it ever took more than three months to get an “easy” whiskey label approved. Just like it is now hard to believe it ever took less than a few days (way back, decades ago). On a brighter note, it is currently taking less than a month to get a wine label approved.

* Even though the number above clearly says 101 days, and the labeling division’s phone message says the same as of today, it seems this can not possibly be correct based on the date to the right of the total. In any event, something is clearly wrong, in a protracted way. Though all this is fairly hard to believe, it is clearly true that TTB approved 667 DSP labels in the 4/26 to 5/26 period of 2013 — and only 41% as many in the same time period of 2014 (272 labels). In the same month of 2012, TTB approved 731 spirits labels. This spirits label, by way of example, took nearly six months.

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7 Responses to “101 Days”

  1. May 29th, 2014 at 11:43 am

    Susan Patrick says:

    21 days for a wine label to be processed is a fallacy, I have had some up to 52 days and am still waiting on one to be approved that was submitted at the end of March 2014. It’s a huge frustration for every vintner since they try to coordinate capsules, corks, labels, glass, and bottling and it’s all up in the air with TTB.

  2. May 29th, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    Lee Topham says:

    Call Your Congressman! I called mine, when the TTB starts getting calls from Congress things will change. (Hopefully)

  3. May 29th, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    ken dacus says:

    RE: Wine and Beer. Not to mention lost submissions, failure to process and re-processing delays. I will say that there have been some heart-felt apologies which are not seen often in the Fed bureaucracies (e.g., VA). Shows that serious arguments between political factions are less disruptive (and maybe beneficial) than inefficient govt systems.

  4. May 29th, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    admin says:

    Hmmm Ken in my experience they don’t lose things often at all, especially now that most things are filed by internet.

  5. May 29th, 2014 at 6:36 pm

    Art Nathan says:

    I am totally shocked, SHOCKED that this didn’t get more efficient when they moved TTB to Cincinnati…! So glad I’m retired and don’t have to play this stupid game any longer; 40 years was plenty…

  6. May 30th, 2014 at 12:39 pm

    admin says:

    Hi Art and thanks for the comment. I agree the permit work is in Cincinnati, but the label and formula work is still in DC.

  7. May 6th, 2016 at 4:18 pm

    TTB Got Fast! | Bevlog | beer, wine, spirits trends | beverage blog says:

    […] Just when it seemed like TTB labels and formulas would be slow, and get slower every year — all of a sudden things look pretty fast. The above table shows that normal formulas take two weeks or less. It’s been a really long time since the processing times have been less than a month. This is a huge benefit for producers everywhere. Over on the label side, things are also getting better. This scary looking table shows that beer, wine and spirits labels were flirting with 40 and more days of processing time, toward late 2014, until the trends started to improve (things got particularly ugly here). […]

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