Thursday, April 11, 2013
Uncovering Sourced Whiskey: Produced, Made, Bottled or Distilled?
One of my pet peeves is companies that bottle whiskey they bought from elsewhere and pretend they made it themselves. There is a TTB regulation that requires whiskey to include the state of distillation on the bottle. That used to be a good way to tell if something was sourced. Even if an Idaho company was bottling the whiskey, it would have to say that it was distilled in Kentucky or Indiana. Unfortunately, as I pointed out last fall, the TTB does not seem to be enforcing that rule. So now, how can we tell if a whiskey is sourced?
One of the key things to look at is the wording on the label. I spend a downright silly amount of time reviewing whiskey labels on the TTB's website, so I usually pick up on trends. In describing the source of its whiskey, most of the sourced products use the terms "produced by", "made by", "bottled by" or some combination thereof (e.g. "produced and bottled by"). There is no relevant legal definition of the terms "produced" and "made," so even if a company buys bulk whiskey from Kentucky and has it shipped to them in Boise, they can probably claim that it was produced or made in Idaho. (If pressed, I'm sure they would claim that they add natural Idaho water or age it for a week in the remarkable Idaho climate).
The word that doesn't lie is "distilled." Distilled has an actual, concrete meaning, so a company that falsely claimed to have distilled its whiskey would potentially be violating truth in advertising laws. My new rule of thumb is that if the label doesn't say "distilled by", it's sourced.
So look for the D word on that new brand of whiskey. If you don't see it, chances are they didn't make it.