Archive for the ‘distilled spirits specialty’ Category
Well here I sit, writing on day 15 of the shutdown. All the government stuff I need (such as COLAs Online) is unavailable. Thank goodness that all the private stuff is available. It takes a lot of public and private resources to make this blog go. That is, on the private side, I need my web server, my ISP, my WordPress, Google, a bit of AC power, etc.
Increasingly, I also need my LabelVision. LabelVision is a tremendous resource, provided by the people at ShipCompliant. It provides various ways to scour TTB’s label database, even when TTB’s systems are down. LabelVision enabled me to quickly find the WinterJack COLA as above. To find this label, my other and much less appealing options would have been to wait until TTB re-opens someday, or jump in the car and drive around until I find this new product.
I had a sudden need to look at this Tennessee Cider label in order to explore what is new and current in distilled spirits specialty (“DSS”) labeling, and the statements of composition (“SOC”) that go along with this category of spirits. To recap, where you have a common type, set out in the regulations, it is sufficient to mention simply VODKA or RUM or TEQUILA or WHISKEY. But where you have something more like miscellany, it is necessary to provide, on the front label, a “statement of composition.” This needs to appear near the “fanciful name” (and “brand name”) — and needs to match the SOC as suggested on the approved formula (formula approval is required for all DSS products). Most suggested SOCs have the alcohol base, then flavors, then colors, with very little extraneous matter. And so, the “normalized” SOC, here, would be LIQUEUR, WHISKEY, CARAMEL COLOR. Not too enticing.
So, with plenty of marketing prowess, the mighty Jack Daniel Distillery has substantially rearranged the various terms. Even the smallest changes (such as changing WITH NATURAL FLAVOR to WITH NATURAL FLAVORS) can cause delays, needs correction notices and rejections. Here, it seems Brown-Forman changed what would have been the TTB-suggested SOC, to add a whole lot of puff. All these words got added to the SOC: A, SEASONAL, BLEND, OF, APPLE, CIDER, JACK, DANIEL’S®, TENNESSEE. All these words got removed (from the SOC): CARAMEL COLOR. That is, the most-probably-suggested-SOC and the approved-label’s-SOC do not have a whole lot in common. And yet the label got approved.
I am not trying to suggest that there is anything wrong with the label or the SOC at issue. Instead I am using this label as an example of how the seemingly simple requirement, to put an SOC on the front, can raise many legal issues. Should the caramel be shown in the same font and color as the remainder of the SOC? With the caramel moved a line below the SOC, would it be ok to move it a bit more, such as to the back label? At what point does the puff, in the SOC, go too far and crowd out and obscure the true SOC? Could Brown-Forman add the caramel to the whiskey component, rather than the end product, in order to de-emphasize or avoid label references to color? For every approval like this, with a “creative” SOC, how many times did TTB press for an SOC that much more closely matches what is suggested on the formula approval?
First we saw tobacco vodka. Then, a bit further down the same smoky trail, we saw this — cigarette flavored rum. I am still not sure whether it’s a dare or somebody actually wants to drink it. The cigarette flavored rum was actually approved a few weeks prior.
Turning against the tide of a great many cake and candy flavored vodkas, this brand has cut in the direction of something rather surprising — tobacco flavored vodka. Credit to Robert Back of International Spirits (Jacksonville, Florida) for pulling this off. It probably was not easy, and it comes complete with a disclaimer that THIS PRODUCT DOES NOT CONTAIN ANY TOBACCO OR NICOTINE. The regular, flavored vodka version is here. The menthol version is here (distilled spirits specialty). The company explains:
“With over 45 million people in the United States identifying themselves as smokers, our new tobacco flavored vodkas will be sure to find a niche in the already crowded flavored vodka market,” said International Spirits’ CEO Tony Elward. “We’re also confident that non-smokers will enjoy the new tobacco flavor product as our customers are always looking for the next big thing.”
Ivanabitch Traditional Tobacco Vodka features a bold taste of smoky vanilla blended with sweet caramel. The Menthol Tobacco Vodka features the same taste as the Traditional Tobacco Vodka with a hint of mint.
A product of the Netherlands, all flavors of Ivanabitch are formulated using all-natural flavorings, are 70 proof and five times distilled and then filtered over active charcoal.
Although I don’t think anyone should hold their breath for a nicotine flavored or infused vodka, the next logical step might be something like this Perique Tobacco Liqueur (made with tobacco, unlike what is in the disclaimer above). So far, I don’t see any sign of TTB approval on Perique.
For quite some time, I have noticed that alcohol beverage packaging tends to be prettier than lots of other packaging. Now, perhaps, I am on the verge of proving this hunch, though the manner of proof, in the form of a BuzzFeed article, may be a bit light on evidence.
The article shows the “34 Coolest Food Packaging Designs Of 2012.” Of this sampling, fully 20 are beverages. Of those, no less than 13 (more than a third) are alcohol beverages. Not bad, considering all the other categories represented, such as chocolate, cheese, jam, pasta, and bread.
Within the alcohol beverage category, I think the Slamsey’s Gin (as above) and Dancing Pines Bourbon bottles look good. I did not notice US approvals for those two, or most of the others on the list, so far. So this may be a harbinger that there is plenty of interesting work to look forward to in 2013. Of the products listed, Kraken Spiced Rum is the most familiar, and the US approval is here.
Q: What do you call spirits distilled from beer?
A: Not “Spirits Distilled from Beer.”
Every now and then we see a “Bierschnapps” or a “spirit distilled from beer.” But even though beer is the main ingredient, most of the U.S. approvals seem to avoid any reference to “beer” or “bier.” It seems that TTB is not in favor of spirits labels that refer to beer.
In the above example, Woodstone Microspirit seems to be, pretty much, just spirits distilled from beer. Even though the producer probably wanted to describe it as “bierschnapps” on the label, the main description is “Spirits Distilled from Grain and Hops.” The producer, back in 2008, set forth his frustrations here:
Beer Schnapps as a label has not been approved by the TTB for 4 months 3 tries and counting, the formula from the local microbrewery was accepted on the 2nd time through. Its been over 2 years so far and it is fighting me every step of the way. … We are now re-submitting the product with a fanciful name and not calling the product beer schnapps at all.
TTB seems to have allowed a reference to ale but not beer.
Bierschnaps, the liquor in question, is relatively unknown outside of its place of origin, Bavaria, Germany. It is made from beer that has been distilled into a clear, 80 proof spirit similar to premium vodka. … Even the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms hadn’t heard of the spirit, so the government officials insisted that Classick and Mirenda provide samples of German bierschnaps to prove its legitimacy. … Four hundred regulations later, in November 1999, Essential Spirits sent to the shelves its first bottle of Classick Original American Bierschnaps, which is distilled from the company’s own micro-brewed California pale ale. In April 2000 came a partnership with a major craft brewer, introducing Sierra Nevada Pale Ale bierschnaps.
TTB has liberalized in many areas and yet various and sundry pockets of great strictness remain.