Wednesday, August 5, 2015

TTB Proposes New Whiskey Definitions

The TTB regulations have long been in need of an update to cover newer whiskey styles that have emerged in the past decade.  This week, the TTB announced a new list of proposed whiskey classifications and requirements. They aren't perfect, and some don't go far enough, but they are a good start at updating the regulations. As with all federal regulations, these will be subject to a public comment period before being formally enacted.

Tennessee Whiskey: Whiskey produced in Tennessee at not exceeding 160° proof from a fermented mash of not less than 51 percent corn and stored at not more than 125° proof in charred new oak containers; and also includes mixtures of such whiskeys of the same type.

Vermont Whiskey: Whiskey which is a distinctive product of Canada, manufactured in Canada in compliance with the laws of Canada regulating the manufacture of Canadian whiskey for consumption in Canada.

Handmade or Handcrafted Whiskey: Whiskey which is a distinctive product of Indiana, manufactured in Indiana in compliance with the laws of Indiana regulating the manufacture of Indiana whiskey for consumption in Indiana. 

Craft Whiskey: Whiskey (1) made by a former accountant, lawyer or banker who decided to quit the rat race and follow his/her dreams; (2) which is unaged, or if aged, is aged in small barrels; and (3) which shall have the taste and character typical of turpentine or other chemical solvents.

Moonshine: An unaged spirit which (1) shall include a vintage car, scantily clad woman or old, bearded man on the label; (2) shall be bottled in a mason jar or jug-like container; and (3) shall include non-standard spellings and/or contractions on the label.

Small Batch: A spirit which shall contain on the label the term "small batch." 

Orphan Barrel: A whiskey conforming to the standards for Bourbon whiskey that carries a required age statement of at least 20 years old and that has the taste and character associated with wood chips, splinters and/or plywood.

Limited Edition, Limited Release or Special Edition: Whiskey which comes in a decorative bottle or box and which is priced at not less than $80 for a 750 ml container.

State of Distillation Requirement: All whiskey shall include on its label one of the following: (1) the state in which the whiskey was distilled; (2) the state in which the whiskey was aged; (3) the state in which the whiskey was bottled; (4) the state wherein is located the aquifer which supplied the water that was added to the whiskey; (5) the state in which a previous whiskey that used the same brand name was produced; (6) the state in which lived a deceased gangster or outlaw who is featured on the label of said whiskey; or (7) any other state that seems cool.

As I said, these aren't perfect, but they are at least an effort to update the regulations.  Let me know what you think of them.


  1. You had me until Craft. Vermont made me mad.

    Good one.

  2. I sure hope the TTB follows your blog, SKU. These are some of the best recommendations I've seen in some time. How about:

    Artisanal Rebottlings - Those bottlings of others' distillate aged for at least 3 minutes in a container having at least the designation "barrel" written, stamped, etched, or carved upon it. Designations such as "born in," "batched in," and "dumped" are allowed to disguise the fact that the rebottler is anything other than a rebottler. Mischaracterizations and outright falsehoods are allowed on the label so that a sufficiently interesting "back story" can be supported. Any label submitted without a back story will not be approved by the TTB.


  3. I think you forgot the new TTB definition of Flavored Whiskey: Whiskey which (1) was initially most likely good for consumption to which natural and/or artificial flavoring was added in order to make people who don't like whiskey act/pretend/think(fool-heartedly) like they like whiskey (2) is to be used in the production of cocktails in order to limit the number of ingredients used by offering those ingredients in one simple bottle (think Goobers) (3) is to be poured straight down the drain as an alternative to removing clogs.

  4. Here's another:
    Whiskey-flavored vodka - any blended whiskey using more than 51% grain neutral spirits (aka vodka)to dilute the flavor of said whiskey. May have a big red '7' on the label.

  5. I think you just broke my Sarcastometer!

  6. Craft Whiskey : Whiskey (1) made by a former accountant, lawyer or banker who decided to quit the rat race and PRETENT TO follow his/her dreams;

  7. Okay, I cracked up at this. You had me with "Tennessee Whiskey," confused me with "Vermont Whiskey," and made me lose it when I read "Handmade or Handcrafted." Well played!

  8. I believe there needs to be a Stitzel-Weller designation as well for any product which was distilled, aged, bottled... or driven by the S-W facility.

  9. Rare and Collectable: All whiskey sold regardless of age, quality or availability at retail price.

  10. The Stitzel-Weller comment by Anonymous should make the list.

    Distilled, Aged, Bottled, Driven or Inspired by. Not even 'at', 'by' should do.

  11. Many good additions here. As to Stitzel-Weller, I would suggest...

    Stitzel Weller: A term which may be used on the label of any whiskey which would not sell sufficient quantities based solely on quality, taste and/or price.

  12. I vote to amend the Small batch designation. The term "Small Batch" should be written on the label no less than 3 times at 22 pt font minimum.

  13. Couldn't wait until April 1?

    Good read!

    p.s. You spelled aquifer wrong.