Posts Tagged ‘type’
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.
Every now and then, TTB approves another eau de vie. This leads to wondering if it’s the same as brandy. At long last, Tim Patterson has explained how they differ:
Unlike grape brandy, eau de vie puts the emphasis on freshness, liveliness, and capturing the intense essence of fruit — rather than on depth, weight, and the complexity that comes from years of interaction between spirit, oxygen and wood.
In the market for distilled spirits, dominated by slick, multi-million-dollar ad campaigns for super-premium vodkas and single malts, eau de vie is nearly invisible. If there’s something smaller than a niche market, eau de vie has it sewn up.
Yet for those who seek it out, and are persistent enough to find it, great eau de vie can be an exquisite experience.
The name translates as “water of life,” a reminder that the invention of distillation in the 17th century came in pursuit of cures for plagues like cholera.
Put another way, eau de vie is the anti-vodka. The point of vodka distillation is to remove all those annoying flavors; the point of eau de vie is to preserve as much of the original fruit as possible.
The economics of production provide an equally stark contrast. [Vodka] can be made from almost any source … for a cost of less than fifty cents a bottle. A quality eau de vie consumes about 30 pounds of first-rate fruit, picked at the moment of peak ripeness.
I have quoted extensively from Patterson’s excellent article, and still it contains much other compelling information, such as the fact that both of the leading producers of American eau de vie happen to be lawyers. TTB does not seem to recognize eau de vie as a distinct category; the above examples are classified as brandy and have the term “brandy” on the label alongside “eau de vie.”