Dear valued The Barrel Mill customer or stakeholder,
I am writing to you on behalf of Richard Hobbs and Stephen Hobbs, owner/operators of The Barrel Mill in Avon, Minnesota. You may recall The Barrel Mill is a cooperage specializing in 5, 10, 15, and 30 gallon premium oak/charred barrels purchased by craft and start-up distillers across the United States – maybe including you! You are receiving this email because craft distilling has come under attack by a Federal Proposed Rule that would change the definition of accepted oak containers for the aging of spirits. The Proposed Rule would require that only “a cylindrical oak drum of approximately 50 gallons” be used to age spirits. This would put an end to the use of smaller 10 or 15-gallon barrels, and we feel would jeopardize the future of the craft distilling industry as well as The Barrel Mill’s family-operated business and its 50 employees.
I am a lobbyist who works in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and the Hobbs’ have asked me to reach out to you and their customer base for help to oppose this provision in the Proposed Rule.
The Proposed Rule is a 132-page document, and pages 60593 and 60645 contain the relevant language requiring that “aging must occur in charred new oak barrels … of approximately 50 gallons...” (emphasis added).
The Proposed Rule, which can be found here, is not final yet, and we have time to weigh in and help change what is proposed. The Department of Treasury, Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), is accepting public comments about the Proposed Rule until June 26, 2019. (Other public comments submitted so far to the docket TTB-2018-0007 can be found here.) On behalf of The Barrel Mill and craft distillers everywhere who prefer to use, or have inventory in, oak barrels smaller than the 53-gallon barrels used for economies of scale by multinational, large distillers, we are asking that you take 5 minutes to submit a public comment to the TTB, opposing the new definition only allowing 53-gallon barrels for aging spirits.
Submitting a comment is easy. The Federal Register rulemaking process prefers electronic comments. Simply follow this link (or cut and paste this in your browser: https://www.regulations.gov/comment?D=TTB-2018-0007-0001) and start typing your comment, provide your first and last name, and click the “Continue” button. The regulations.gov website for commenting on docket TTB-2018-0007 also offers you the option of uploading a formal letter or other information you may choose to provide electronically.
If you chose to send a letter via US Postal Service instead of using the online comment submission, you would send your feedback addressed to: Director, Regulations and Rulings Division, Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, 1310 G Street NW, Box 12, Washington, D.C. 20005.
Here are some ideas and suggestions on things you might include in your comment:
· Share your connection to the distilled spirits industry and why you care about the Proposed Rule. Describe your business or involvement with craft spirits.
· Express concern that by requiring all containers for aging to be only 50 or 53 gallon barrels, the federal government would be increasing costs on craft distilleries due to the cost of larger barrels and inventory and shipping space required to use them. We believe this would also result in increased costs to consumers.
· State that you feel this proposal favors large distilleries and cooperages and disadvantages small and start-up distilleries.
· Requiring the use of only 53-gallon barrels would create a barrier to entry for small distillers and cooperages due to the increased cost, space and shipping requirements, and longer time required for aging and handling more volume of distilled spirits.
· Point out that smaller barrels pose no threat to quality, health, safety or consistency of the aged spirits within the industry. Restricting the use of small barrels would be arbitrary and with no justification except to give an advantage to large distilleries and cooperages.
· You may explain that you prefer to use 10 or 15-gallon barrels for aging due to the higher surface-to-volume ratio of the aging and maturity process, allowing more spirit contact with the oak and thus enhancing the quality, flavor, and maturity time of aging.
· It’s ok to be blunt and direct! Your comments do not have to be long or eloquent.
· Overall, we are asking your main comment to be that you oppose the proposed requirement that containers for aging spirits be only barrels of approximately 50 gallons – and that smaller charred oak barrels be allowed.
If you have any questions about this request or about the Proposed Rule and Docket No. TTB-2018-0007 and its proposal to require aging only in barrels of approximately 50-gallons in size, please do not hesitate to contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org; 612-632-3083 direct) or Richard Hobbs (email@example.com; 320-980-5374 cell) of The Barrel Mill.
We truly appreciate you reading this information and if you would take the time to submit a comment to the TTB. The comment period closes June 26, so please submit your comment right away!
Attorney/Lobbyist for The Barrel Mill (Avon, MN)
Gray Plant Mooty
P.S. As the comment period comes to a close on June 26, we do not intend to stop there. We are engaging with Members of Congress (mostly from Minnesota) and other trade associations including the American Craft Spirits Association, and American Distilling Institute, to fight against this proposal to limit the use of small barrels. If would like to be part of this coalition, or would like information on how to contact your U.S. Representative or U.S. Senator, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Senior Government Relations Specialist
Gray Plant Mooty
500 IDS Center
80 South Eighth Street
Minneapolis, MN USA 55402