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Moonshine

shine

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.

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Molotov Cocktail

Because the term “Molotov Cocktail” has been so widely used (for at least 70 years), I would have expected somebody to grab onto it and apply it to alcohol beverages sooner. It was not until July of 2011 that somebody grabbed onto it, as in the case of Evil Twin Brewing above. In this case the name relates to the “explosive” and “arrogant” amount of hops in this beer. A few years earlier, Molotov Hoptail had roughly the same idea. Hoptail gets extra points because the brewpub is just down the street and a delightful addition to the neighborhood.

I probably would have expected the term to get applied to something more akin to a traditional “cocktail” and less akin to a traditional beer. But perhaps TTB would have been concerned about the use of cocktail-type language on a spirit that is other than a “recognized cocktail.” TTB has various rules about recognized cocktails, such as pre-mixed margaritas, daiquiris and the like. For example, the BAM says a daiquiri must contain rum and lime, and a margarita must contain Tequila, triple sec and citrus. A few of these cocktails are vaguely reminiscent of the above, at least as to sound: Black Russian, White Russian, Brandy Alexander, Bloody Mary.

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cocktail, malt beverage


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9/11 Wine

The 9/11 Memorial wine is made by Lieb Cellars, LLC of Mattituck, New York. In a rare show of unity, it did not go over well with Anthony Bourdain, Dr. Vino, The Colbert Report, or The Christian Post.

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wine


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Founding Fathers Beer

Part of the challenge and complexity is that label rules and trends change often. As recently as a few years ago, TTB would balk about pre-eminently famous people, such as these, on alcohol beverage labels. Founding Fathers Beer is bottled by CBC Latrobe in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. I tend to doubt that TTB would allow a President Obama label, even today (except maybe as a caricature), but George Bush, Bill Clinton and the prior Presidents may well be fair game now or soon.

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COLAs on the Front Page

It’s not every day that you see COLA news on the front page of the newspaper, but it does happen from time to time. On Saturday, The Wall Street Journal featured COLA news on the front page. The story explained that no less than three companies have been trying to use Buffalo Bill as part of their branding — with two of them fighting it out in court. “The two entrepreneurs are fighting in court for the exclusive right to sell beer that trades on the musky aura of adventure surrounding Army-scout-turned-bison-hunter-turned-sharpshooting-showman William F. Cody.”

Eric Bischoff got his first COLA in March of 2011 (and the second one is here). He is a “former professional wrestling icon.”

While Bischoff already has the COLAs and applied for the trademark, it looks like Mike Darby has been selling beer under the Buffalo Bill name since before Bischoff. But “Mr. Darby failed to get federal approval of his label, as required by the law. (Mr. Darby says he thought the brewer and distributor had taken care of that.)” Darby owns a hotel in Cody, Wyoming “built by Buffalo Bill in 1902.” Darby “had to pull his beer from the market” while awaiting label approval.

The third company is affiliated with Bill Owens, but is not interested in fighting over the brand name. The brewery does not even seem to claim trademark on the brand name. The story says Owens has moved on from making beer and now runs a trade group for craft distillers (“It’s much more fun to be involved with people making whiskey, vodka and absinthe, he says.”) This may allow him to avoid a roundhouse kick, a six-shooter, and the swirling lawsuits.

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