Tuesday, September 4, 2012
Why isn't the TTB Enforcing the State of Distillation Disclosure Rule?
Last year, I posted about the federal regulation that requires most whiskey labels to list the state in which the whiskey was distilled. To summarize, The federal regulations of the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) require that whiskey labels disclose the state where the whiskey was distilled. If the whiskey is distilled in the state where the company is located, then the address of the company is sufficient to comply with this requirement. However, if the business address is not in the state where the whiskey was distilled, the state has to be stated separately on the label. (There are some limited exceptions to this regulation, but it applies to most whiskey). See 27 CFR § 5.36(d).
However, it has recently come to my attention that the TTB does not seem to be enforcing this rule. I know of several LDI distilled whiskeys which don't have the word Indiana anywhere on the label. In such cases, the label typically says "bottled in..." the state in which the company is headquartered but does not designate the state of distillation in either the address or otherwise on the label.
This is a big deal. In the world of American whiskey, it's hard enough to figure out which whiskeys are produced by whom even when the state of distillation is clear. Labels are rife with fake distillery names, bottlers of sourced whiskey who imply that they distilled it themselves and other chicanery. At least the state of distillation rule told you if a local company was actually selling Kentucky bourbon, and in the case of LDI, it was especially helpful since the "produced in Indiana" line almost always pointed to LDI.
I've sent the TTB an email asking what their policy is on enforcing this rule. I'm not hopeful, but if I hear back, I'll let everyone know what they say.