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If you make a "white whiskey" then read this!


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#1 Paul Tomaszewski

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 07:33 PM

Well Ladies & Gents, do I have one for you that is in the league of a few of our last posts. We're submitting new versions of our "white dog" and "black dog" labels only to find that the TTB is deliberating on if "white" and "whiskey" can be on the front label. Furthermore, they are applying this rule to our "black dog" as well. Now, I will say that the TTB specialists that I have spoken with regards to this matter have been more than understanding and reasonable as far as trying to make sense of this situation. However comma the gist is that they are about to require every single dsp that has a product that has "white" and "whiskey" on the front label to amend that given cola to not have those two words on that front (brand) label. Here is my inquiry/response and I am waiting on a reply, they said I should get a call and/or response within the next few days and I'll post that when it comes:

Dear Mrs. X,

I will attempt to make this information and explanation with regards to our product ID information as to the point as possible. From our conversation today, it is my understanding that formulation and labeling is going to require that any "whiskey-type product" not include the term "white" on the front label in conjunction with the word "whisk(e)y." If that is the case, than I believe it may be worth considering that the regulations be amended and/or notification be sent out to all licensed dsp's of this information explaining the rationale of this measure. I will say that all unaged whiskies that we produce are a "corn whisk(e)y" and can be unaged, whereas some other products that I have seen on the market are not made from at least 80% corn mash, and are unaged "white dogs," but are still labeled as a "whiskey" somewhere on the front label. As per the regulations, if a producer were to make a distilled spirit product of a mash of grain, but not of at least 80% corn, and it be unaged (and distilled at below 160 proof), than that product would be "spirits distilled from grain." I submit that these products are far more confusing and contradictory of the regulations than the term "white dog." Within the distilling community, it is understood that a "white dog" is the unaged, clear grain spirit (that can be a whiskey if that product is at least 80% corn in the mash), prior to it going into a barrel for aging. Is there a possibility that that term could be added to the regulations and, therefore, allow producers to use this term on their front label in conjunction with the term "whiskey" or "spirits distilled from grain" (depending on if their product were at least 80% corn mash)? If there is a case where we can use the term "white dog" in conjunction with "whiskey" on the front label, we would like to use that term on TTB ID 11108001000472. Furthermore, we do use white corn in our production of our unaged, corn whiskies, and, therefore, if we were to use the term "white corn whiskey" on a label, that could also be in reference to our specific use of white vs. yellow corn.

With regards to our "Black Dog Whiskey" label (TTB ID 11108001000476). This product is another unaged, corn whiskey product that is produced from a mash of at least 80% corn, however the corn has been smoked, adding additional flavor that carries over to the unaged, clear spirit. The "Black" in the fanciful name is merely a spin on the classic "white dog" term, especially because we do have a standard "white dog" product that we make using a mash of at least 80% corn, but still 100% grain.

Finally, we have an additional product that we have produced and wish to continue to label as "Black Patch Whiskey." This product is a corn whiskey made from a mash of our "smoked/dark fired" corn, then aged in used, charred oak barrels and is meant to embody our local area and the production of "dark fired" tobacco. In the case of the term "Black Patch," this is a reference to the area of Kentucky that we are located. The term "Black Patch" refers to counties in southwestern Kentucky (including Christian County) where "dark fired" tobacco is produced and where there was a civil uprising in the early 1900s that is of much historical significance for this area, known as the "Black Patch Wars." The "Black" on the label for this product is not so much in reference to any color of the product, but of this location reference. Furthermore, if "white" or "black" is not allowed on a front label, than what of other colors, particularly if it is part of a location (ie "Blue Ridge" or "Red River" or "Green Mountains").


I understand and appreciate that your primary role in regulating the use of these colors on labels is to ensure that these products are truthful and not confusing to the consumer. However, I do ask that you and all TTB authorities take into account that there are various historical and location references to these terminologies and that the issue here is if a product is legally whiskey or if it is merely a "spirit distilled from grain" vs. if white is on the label or not.

#2 BeerPilgrim

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 08:53 PM

You just have to put the White and Whiskey on different lines, so they don't think you're trying to create a new category. They're regulators for the purpose of collecting taxes foremost, you'd be better off creatively designing your labels to comply with current standards than you would trying to teach them something. Just look at a Stranahans bottle, they had to put Colorado and Whiskey on different lines and they probably got more time and money to argue bout it than you or I.

This is to show how they will confuse White in White whiskey with a category, Light whiskey (excerpt from Rev. Ruling 71-188):


"Consideration must be given to the relationship that whisky described as "White" would have to "light whisky." Light whisky has many of the production characteristics of the whisky presently proposed to be subjected to treatment. Production of "light whisky," although barred from bottling until July 1, 1972, began on January 26, 1968. In order that the merits of the present proposal may be recognized without adversely affecting the production, bottling, and designation of "light whisky," it is held that in view of the substantial lack of color, whisky distilled prior to January 26, 1968, at more than 160 degrees of proof, stored in reused cooperage, and subjected to treatment before bottling with activated carbon within the limits described in 27 CFR 5.23(B), may be described as "White" provided the treated product has not more than 0.1 color units Lovibond. Further, the adjective "White" must be separated from the designation "whisky" and must appear in smaller type than that used for the designation "whisky.""

#3 porter

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 09:05 PM

It would be insane that they would come down with a ruling such as you suggest possible. A simple google search brings up in excess of 10 import whiskeys with the word 'black' as part of the official registered name.
I doubt they would be sending our requirements to change all the current products that hit this country.

Now I didn't look up where the word was placed on the label, so BeerPilgrim may be correct.

Apparently it's better to simply play their game and get creative with the label.

???Wonder if they're going to require gross warning pictures like they're doing with cigs now.......

#4 MB Roland

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 09:22 PM

It would be a topic of humor, would it not be for the fact that we already have a "White Dog" and a "Black Dog" currently already on our front label. We were simply redesigning our label, not attempting to "teach" them anything. We already had the darn thing approved, it was simply a redesign! So, trying to slide one under their nose wasn't our object, nor was it something we were trying to "school" them on. We are just letting those of you know that use the term "White Dog" on your front label, be prepared. You might have to rename your product.

#5 MB Roland

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 09:48 PM

[quote name='BeerPilgrim' date='21 June 2011 - 08:53 PM' timestamp='1308711182' post='10860']
You just have to put the White and Whiskey on different lines, so they don't think you're trying to create a new category. They're regulators for the purpose of collecting taxes foremost, you'd be better off creatively designing your labels to comply with current standards than you would trying to teach them something."


Look up our COLA. You will note that "White Dog" does not appear on the same line with our "Kentucky Corn Whiskey".

#6 porter

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 09:53 PM

It would be a topic of humor, would it not be for the fact that we already have a "White Dog" and a "Black Dog" currently already on our front label. We were simply redesigning our label, not attempting to "teach" them anything. We already had the darn thing approved, it was simply a redesign! So, trying to slide one under their nose wasn't our object, nor was it something we were trying to "school" them on. We are just letting those of you know that use the term "White Dog" on your front label, be prepared. You might have to rename your product.


So, do you think they'll let you keep your current, pre-redesign label then?

#7 MB Roland

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 10:02 PM

So, do you think they'll let you keep your current, pre-redesign label then?


No. According to them, EVERYONE that has "White Dog" or "White Whiskey" on their label is going to have to change the name/terminology.

#8 nick jones

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 10:16 PM

Bummer, man.

This is a good example of how every single decision that the TTB makes is (more or less) completely arbitrary. 27 CFR is so convuluted that they can give a justification for approving or rejecting pretty much any given label. For example, 27 CFR 5.33 states:

"Statements required by this
subpart, except brand names, shall appear
generally parallel to the base on
which the bottle rests as it is designed
to be displayed..."

Which I personally read as a great reason for a TTB agent to call up Stranahan's and tell them that they need to make their awesome labels all lame and parallel to the bottom of the bottles. But of course, the section continues:

"...or shall be otherwise
equally conspicuous."

Which is to say, the way that I read it, that everything about all of that parallel business previously mentioned is completely meaningles. What is ACTUALLY the case is that whether or not statements of class, type, etc. (to which the section is refering) are parallel enough is up to some bureaucrat's interpretation of whether or not their "conspicuousness" is "parallel" enough. Like MB Roland said, it would almost be funny if it wasn't F'n with our businesses so much.

Why the hell do they even call it a Certificate of Label Approval anyway? Wouldn't a much more appropriate name for these worthless pieces of paper be Certificate of Pending Rejection?

Nick

#9 MB Roland

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 10:38 PM

[quote name='nick jones' date='21 June 2011 - 10:16 PM' timestamp='1308716172' post='10867']
Bummer, man.



Nick........would it be an understatement to say "I feel your pain"?

#10 Drew

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Posted 22 June 2011 - 10:08 AM

If TTB does this, would it not be reasonable for all the makers of "white dog" to demand that white wine no longer be labeled as such? For certainly white wine is not white, ... :blink:

#11 Al C Hemy93

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Posted 22 June 2011 - 01:50 PM

My understanding of the regs and ID on this is as follows: I make a white whiskey but do not use "white", rather I use "clear". Whiskey is defined as a distillate made from at least 51% a single grain and has been stored in an oak container, the regs and CFR do state how long it must stay in the oak container, unlike the definition for Bourbon which requires that whiskey to be in new charred oak containers for two years.

I'll give this for free: my approved whiskey formula states, "the whiskey is placed in an oak container for as little as 10 minutes and as long as 10 years". The label has an age stastement reflecting the amount of time in the oak container. This short period of time allows for a whiskey that has little or no oak color or character. This allows me to get a COLA for whiskey that is clear as water, or as brown as it can be. Yes the terms are different for corn, but that is only if you want to label it as "corn whiskey". I do hope this helps.

#12 bluestar

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Posted 22 June 2011 - 03:26 PM

I think the correct thing to do, but it will require time, is to get a new category added, called white whiskey. Because the product you are making is a whiskey by the general class definition, but it does not fit into any subclass. Their concern seems to be how it is defined relative to others. A color designation would cause the potential conflict with light whiskey, but if I understand correctly, you are not looking to label a clear spirit with minimum cooperage. You are looking to label a spirit with no cooperage, which currently is not called out in any of the descriptions?

#13 Paul Tomaszewski

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Posted 22 June 2011 - 03:48 PM

Okay, don't want to beat anyone up too much, but whisk(e)y is a grain distillate, distilled at the right proof (I think we all know that part), aged in oak containers (unless it's corn whiskey, than it doesn't have to be aged in oak but if it is it MUST be used, charred or toasted oak). For it to be bourbon, it's just like any other whiskey, technically when the grain distillate hits the wood, it hypothetically could be called bourbon. In order to use the "straight" designation prior to any whiskey at all (including corn), it MUST BE AGED FOR AT LEAST TWO YEARS. Now, according to the folks at the TTB that I've talked to, there is no requirement to put "corn" in front of "whiskey," just like there is no requirement to put any other designation prior to "whiskey" if it legally can be called "whiskey." If the product that you are making can legally be called any whiskey at all, you are only required to put "whiskey" on the label. The hangup here is twofold, some of which has been discussed at length on other postings:

1. Grain distillates that are not aged and less than 80% corn are technically not whiskey, they are "spirits distilled from grain." (lookup "Maker's Mark White Dog" in the cola registry for an example). If this is true, than there are various unaged non-corn "whiskies" that are labeled incorrectly. Otherwise, how can one given product be labeled as "spirits distilled from grain" (maker's) and another be labeled as "whiskey" (BT, Heaven Hill, etc). It is my opinion that any and all grain distillates that fit that criteria are not whiskies, and I believe that the regs support that. I think that all of us making all of these so called "white whiskies" is taxing (no pun intended) the TTB and they are considering serious (but not necessarily correct) measures to deal with this situation.

2. What I was told by the feds is that if you have the word "white" ANYWHERE on your front label (doesn't matter if it's the same font, next to "whiskey," upside down, in chinese, what the heck ever, IF IT'S ON THE FRONT LABEL, and apparently "black" may be treated the same way, I don't friggin know!), you're going to be contacted by them and they will tell you that you will be required to amend your label appropriately. More to come, will let you know when I get a reply.

#14 Curtis McMillan

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Posted 22 June 2011 - 11:28 PM

Shrug I always liked "New Make Spirit" no white no whiskey - just safe.

#15 bluestar

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 10:14 AM

1. Grain distillates that are not aged and less than 80% corn are technically not whiskey, they are "spirits distilled from grain." (lookup "Maker's Mark White Dog" in the cola registry for an example). If this is true, than there are various unaged non-corn "whiskies" that are labeled incorrectly. Otherwise, how can one given product be labeled as "spirits distilled from grain" (maker's) and another be labeled as "whiskey" (BT, Heaven Hill, etc). It is my opinion that any and all grain distillates that fit that criteria are not whiskies, and I believe that the regs support that. I think that all of us making all of these so called "white whiskies" is taxing (no pun intended) the TTB and they are considering serious (but not necessarily correct) measures to deal with this situation.


OK, I don't disagree this is the nub of the problem. I just am not clear I see where the class of "spirits distilled from grain" comes from in BAM. Rather, this is a description for something within the catch all class "Distilled Spirits Specialty". If you look at the class definitions, it IS a "whiskey":

"Spirits distilled from a fermented mash of grain at less than 95% alcohol by volume (190 proof) having the taste, aroma and characteristics generally attributed to whisky and bottled at not less than 40% alcohol by volume (80 proof)."


You are correct, there is no existing type in the class that is un-aged, but the class description does not prevent it. I think what one would want to propose is since in the market place, the current common usage is to refer to an un-aged spirit that fits the class description "whisky" as a "white whisky", that it would be reasonable to add a new type called "white whiskey" that would reflect this. With the addition, the common usage and the class and type would be in agreement, and unambiguous with respect to the other currently produced spirits. It becomes a debatable issue whether one wants to reserve the class "whisky" only to aged product, but it is not in the class description, except if you want to argue that aging is a requirement to have "the taste, aroma and characteristics generally attributed to whisky". The problem with that is the "generally" part, and if in common usage the public generally attributes these properties found in an un-aged whisky to be a whisky, then it can legitimately be added as a new type.

JMHO.

#16 cowdery

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Posted 18 July 2011 - 09:14 AM

This is a lot of discussion about, essentially, nothing or, at best, nothing more than speculation about the alleged verbal musings of some TTB employee.

GET IT IN WRITING. It isn't real (certainly not official) unless it's written down. If you have a ruling or a circular to cite, or a written official opinion from TTB, cite it. Anything else is just speculation.

"White whiskey" is not an official designation, so it can't be used as such, but that's nothing new. Although "white dog" is a very common industry term, it has no official standing with TTB.

The TTB web site is bad about connecting dates to its rulings, but the one ruling that mentions "white whiskey" appears to be a reference to something that happened in the late 1960s, at a time when 'light whiskey' was coming into being and some people (most notably Brown-Forman) were trying to get a jump with a heavily filtered and, therefore, clear (i.e., white) product. This has nothing to do with modern use of the term 'white whiskey.'

I also note that the recent 'white dog' products put out by Heaven Hill and Buffalo Trace don't claim to be whiskey.

There are enough real things to worry about without wasting time on things that aren't.

#17 Phil

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Posted 18 July 2011 - 04:51 PM

This is a lot of discussion about, essentially, nothing or, at best, nothing more than speculation about the alleged verbal musings of some TTB employee.

GET IT IN WRITING. It isn't real (certainly not official) unless it's written down. If you have a ruling or a circular to cite, or a written official opinion from TTB, cite it. Anything else is just speculation.

"White whiskey" is not an official designation, so it can't be used as such, but that's nothing new. Although "white dog" is a very common industry term, it has no official standing with TTB.

The TTB web site is bad about connecting dates to its rulings, but the one ruling that mentions "white whiskey" appears to be a reference to something that happened in the late 1960s, at a time when 'light whiskey' was coming into being and some people (most notably Brown-Forman) were trying to get a jump with a heavily filtered and, therefore, clear (i.e., white) product. This has nothing to do with modern use of the term 'white whiskey.'

I also note that the recent 'white dog' products put out by Heaven Hill and Buffalo Trace don't claim to be whiskey.

There are enough real things to worry about without wasting time on things that aren't.


Not trying to be argumentative, but see the labels attached. Both Buffalo Trace's White Dog and New Make from Heaven Hill say Whiskey on them. Not sure why you're saying they don't claim to be whiskey.

Attached Files



#18 cowdery

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Posted 18 July 2011 - 09:00 PM

Not trying to be argumentative, but see the labels attached. Both Buffalo Trace's White Dog and New Make from Heaven Hill say Whiskey on them. Not sure why you're saying they don't claim to be whiskey.


Not at all and thank you. I was simply mistaken. This is even better evidence that there is no pernicious move afoot at TTB to upset the White Whiskey applecart. Just follow the big guys.

#19 bluestar

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Posted 19 July 2011 - 07:31 AM

Not trying to be argumentative, but see the labels attached. Both Buffalo Trace's White Dog and New Make from Heaven Hill say Whiskey on them. Not sure why you're saying they don't claim to be whiskey.


Does this suggest that one option is simply to label according to the class, with no need to indicate a type? So the complaint some may be getting from the TTB is choosing to label something as "white whiskey", because this suggests a non-existant type? While labeling something in the class "whiskey" and giving it a brand name such as "white dog" is allowed, since the class is correct, and the "white" modifier is not associated with the class label?

#20 delaware_phoenix

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Posted 19 July 2011 - 03:07 PM

That sounds about right. With unaged whiskey, there's no other type other than whiskey.




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