Posts Tagged ‘type’
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?
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
I am pretty sure Pyotr Smirnov never envisioned this. It is peanut butter flavored vodka. It is made by Terressentia Corporation of Charleston, South Carolina. Since I am in Charleston at this very moment, and getting hungry, this seemed like a fine time to feature this product.
Temperance has a similarly flavored product. It is surprising that TTB would allow it to be described as “Peanut Butter Vodka,” unlike the above, without the key term “Flavored” in the middle. TTB is usually more likely to allow terminology like Coconut Rum as compared to Coconut Vodka (partly on the theory that confusion could otherwise arise due to the fact that vodka could possibly be distilled from coconuts, but rum could not). No word yet on vodka distilled from peanuts.
But Smuttynose may also be the first, and has the scars to prove it. The New Hampshire beer company has explained:
The much-anticipated debut edition of Smuttynose Wheat Wine, brewed and bottled early in 2005, was delayed for nearly a year due to problems stemming from the federal label approval process. The Tax and Trade Bureau (formerly ATF) rejected our original label approval application, claiming that use of the word wine in a beer name would confuse and mislead consumers and retailers. We didn’t agree (barleywine, anyone?) and appealed their rejection. Ours is the first, but definitely not the last, wheat wine application the federal government has seen, so they had to create new guidelines regarding the use of this name. We did prevail, at last, and the issue has been put to rest, and although there are several outstanding examples of this style offered at brewpubs, we are pleased to say that Smuttynose Wheat Wine Ale was the first commercially bottled Wheat Wine on the market.
Smuttynose Wheat Wine Ale is a unique hybridization of two well-known beer styles, combining the rich, voluptuous taste of a traditional barleywine with the subtle, tart flavors of an American wheat ale, topped off with a healthy dose of crisp, herbaceous hops.
Here is a “delightfully chilling blend of Canadian icewine and vodka ~ VICE.” It is produced by Vineland Estates Winery, in Ontario, “one of Canada’s oldest and most renowned wineries.” The Vice website tends to suggest that Vineland would have liked to present this as a “martini,” but TTB can be protective of this term, and so it looks like Vineland settled for the term “cocktail” instead.
Speaking of vice, perhaps it’s time to sort out whether we are in the “vice” business or not. The Online Etymology Dictionary defines “vice” as “moral fault, wickedness.” The term dates back at least 700 years, to about 1300, from French. I can think of many things more wicked and fault-worthy than a 45 proof wine concoction, taxed and regulated out the wazoo. If this is vice, what is virtue? Here is a lawyer who scrupulously gravitates toward vice matters in his practice.