Posts Tagged ‘drinkwire’
A few weeks ago we wrote about moonshine and now we have occasion to write about its close relative, White Whiskey.
Products like the above have become quite popular within the past few years, for reasons well explained by Slate:
The term white whiskey is basically a marketing name for what distillers call white dog, referring to grain-based spirits that haven’t been aged in wood to improve their flavor. [Sometimes] it’s just called moonshine, but legal sales of white dog in recent years have helped upstart microdistilleries earn immediate revenue while their whiskies age. That’s because white dog can be bottled and sold immediately after being distilled without accruing any additional storage and aging expenses. The moonshine connection has been a useful marketing gimmick for hip urban bars, but there’s one considerable downside to white dog: It tastes horrible.
At first, TTB was skeptical and pushed back a bit (saying, for example, there is no such category in the regulations). But as the trickle became a deluge, TTB began to allow white whiskey products more freely. In the light of a large number of recent approvals, it becomes clearer that TTB chiefly wants WHISKEY and WHITE on two different lines — more like Beam and less like Death’s Door (as above). Less clear is whether such products need a formula approval (adding the formula step can add 4-5 weeks to what is already a 4-5 week project). Most of the recent label approvals do not refer to any formula approval, as in the following examples.
Formula not mentioned
Moonshine. A word that typically conjures up thoughts of illicit high-octane liquor, clandestine stills, mason jars, potential blindness and bearded mountain men with colorful nicknames. Producing moonshine without a license is still illegal in the United States, but a large and growing number of licensed distilleries are now producing their own interpretations of moonshine. And despite moonshine’s negative associations from the past, TTB seems to have no issue allowing the word to appear on distilled spirits labels, as evidenced by the scores of moonshine labels approved so far. There is also an upsurge in approvals for moonshine’s cousins, such as white dog, white whiskey and white lightning.
As far as we know, there are no specific TTB requirements to label a product “moonshine.” Apparently, moonshine can be a whiskey, a specialty product with flavors of apple or blackberry (for example), a high poof neutral spirit distilled from apples, peach brandy and even tequila. Although it appears that you can call just about any distilled spirits product “moonshine,” we think it is unlikely that TTB would allow the word on beer or wine labels anytime soon.
I am glad we are not stuck in this era. Work would not be fun.
proposes to “standardize” the appearance of all alcohol beverage containers. The proposal would accomplish this by prohibiting “Any container that, by virtue of the material from which it is composed or by its shape or design, or that by its ordinary and customary use is likely to mislead the consumer as to the alcohol character of the product. . . .” The proposal expresses ATF’s concern about containers that might confuse consumers about the presence or absence of alcohol in any form. The proposal secondarily expresses concern about containers that might confuse consumers, regulators and the trade about the “alcohol character of the product.” This part of the rule could conceivably be used to prohibit a malt beverage from being packed in a container that looks like a wine bottle, or a distilled spirit cooler from being packed in a container that looks like a beer bottle.
I am delighted to report that this proposal got buried not too many years apart from when one of its foremost proponents got buried. We might otherwise be deprived of all these great ideas that make the industry more competitive, modern, vibrant and fun. A good and further example is Double Agent, as above (approved at Bendistillery, an excellent contract bottler for spirits in Bend, Oregon). The outer chamber is vodka and the inner chamber is liqueur. I am pretty sure nobody will mistake it for a juicebox. Another good example, along these lines, is Milagro Romance Tequila.
Don’t hold your breath, but if we get really creative, perhaps it would only take a few more decades to identify good reasons why this sort of thing should be prohibited (preferably well after the government is running big surpluses, unemployment is below 3%, and other priorities are well under control).
Has anyone tried these and lived to tell about it? Some people prefer the organic or biodynamic, Others, apparently, lean toward the toxic or deadly. It is nice to see TTB giving consumers some credit for being able to put things in context, and for recognizing that nobody will force them to buy either one of these products (unlike, say, health insurance or government).
Toxic Sludge is an ale made by Blue Point Brewing Company of Patchogue, New York. Jersey’s Toxic Waste, by contrast, is a distilled spirits specialty made by Strong Spirits, Inc., along with Line Brands of Long Branch, New Jersey. Michael Kanbar, of Strong, explains that Strong Spirits “is a contract bottling facility located in Bardstown, Kentucky, ‘The Distilling Capital of the World,’ and does both small and large runs and can handle specialty packaging projects.”
We covered several sparkling spirits products about three years ago, here, and so it may be about time for a redux. There is quite a bit of action on this front, in recent months, perhaps due to the high profile of Nuvo Sparkling Liqueur.
Here is a Sparkling Vodka under the brand name Le Grand Saint. Technically, it is a distilled spirits specialty more than a “vodka” or a specific class/type. The statement of composition (“vodka infused with carbonation”) appears in gold letters near the top of the front label.
Another good example is Prévu. It is unique in the sense that it is sparkling, and liqueur, and organic. It is made with vodka and Cognac, and imported by Simont Enterprises of Los Angeles, California. Prévu also happens to have a great looking website and bottle. If the product is even half as good as what is shown there, I should step away from the computer and go get several bottles.