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Barrel Finishing and COLA

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We got a kickback on a COLA for a whiskey finished in a wine barrel. Prior to the wine barrel aging it was a straight rye whiskey through and through. The kickback is requiring a formula and DSS classification. Is this congruent with everyone's experience with barrel finishing whiskies?

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That has been my experience with barrel finished whiskeys.

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Yup, this is correct, you can check several finished whiskey COLAs through the registry and see they required a formula.

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Though you might need a formula I disagree with DSS. We were told the same and put DSS on the label but I researcedh how many many other whiskies do this without a DSS on their label. They end up being qualified as a whiskey specialty. So next time we do this and TTB requires DSS, they will be getting a call so I can find out how to get a whiskey specialty classification instead. So I suggest you call TTB and do a public COLA search for some known whiskeys finished in xxx barrel and you'll see the classification they got and you should request the same for yours.

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On 8/3/2019 at 1:58 PM, glisade said:

Though you might need a formula I disagree with DSS. We were told the same and put DSS on the label but I researcedh how many many other whiskies do this without a DSS on their label. They end up being qualified as a whiskey specialty. So next time we do this and TTB requires DSS, they will be getting a call so I can find out how to get a whiskey specialty classification instead. So I suggest you call TTB and do a public COLA search for some known whiskeys finished in xxx barrel and you'll see the classification they got and you should request the same for yours.

When submitting a distilled spirits specialty (DSS) formula you aren't required to put DSS on your label anywhere. They just require a truthful and accurate statement of composition. So if you were to finish straight bourbon whiskey in wine barrels, the formula is required, would be a distilled spirits specialty, and the statement would be  'Straight Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Wine Barrels'

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17 hours ago, JailBreak said:

When submitting a distilled spirits specialty (DSS) formula you aren't required to put DSS on your label anywhere. They just require a truthful and accurate statement of composition. So if you were to finish straight bourbon whiskey in wine barrels, the formula is required, would be a distilled spirits specialty, and the statement would be  'Straight Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Wine Barrels'

Absolutely correct. CF: Angel's Envy. But keep in mind, when you do create your statement (ie, description) and your fanciful name, you must be sure that these can not be possibly misread as the description of an existing category. This is particularly a challenge when using descriptions for DSS where the description will include a phrase that is an existing category, like 'Straight Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Wine Barrels', because the description for the existing categories are also allowed to contain additional adjectives as well and still be considered a description of the existing category. And since when you submit your label, and it is denied or sent back for correction, it is not always obvious in the TTB comments what is wrong with the language, correcting it can be a challenge. To wit: you might be able to use the phrase "Straight Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Wine Barrels" since it is the clear description of a modification of an existing category with additional processing described in your formula, but maybe not "Wine Barrel Straight Bourbon Whiskey" (NB, I have not filed this to know that it would be refused for a DSS). My point being, don't assume because one wording is not accepted on the label for your DSS formula, that a slightly rephrased version won't pass muster...

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3 hours ago, bluestar said:

Absolutely correct. CF: Angel's Envy. But keep in mind, when you do create your statement (ie, description) and your fanciful name, you must be sure that these can not be possibly misread as the description of an existing category. This is particularly a challenge when using descriptions for DSS where the description will include a phrase that is an existing category, like 'Straight Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Wine Barrels', because the description for the existing categories are also allowed to contain additional adjectives as well and still be considered a description of the existing category. And since when you submit your label, and it is denied or sent back for correction, it is not always obvious in the TTB comments what is wrong with the language, correcting it can be a challenge. To wit: you might be able to use the phrase "Straight Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Wine Barrels" since it is the clear description of a modification of an existing category with additional processing described in your formula, but maybe not "Wine Barrel Straight Bourbon Whiskey" (NB, I have not filed this to know that it would be refused for a DSS). My point being, don't assume because one wording is not accepted on the label for your DSS formula, that a slightly rephrased version won't pass muster...

Excellent point! The wording can definitely be tricky for distilled spirits specialties. I think you hit the head on the nail with how one may be appropriate while the other may be rejected for being misleading. In my experience, starting a description with the base spirit (Vodka, Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Rum, etc.) then describing the 'special' processing (With Natural Lime Flavor, Finished In Used Rum Barrels, etc.) works more often than not. KISS 

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I am too busy to answer fully, but here are some quick comments:

1.  Others are correct.  You do not use the term "distilled spirits specialty on the label."  You designate it with a fanciful name and truthful and adequate statement of composition.  See §5.35.

2.  If the specialty contains, as an ingredient, a spirit that conforms to a standard in §5.22, you may list that spirit in the statement of composition. 

3.  Bourbon is a distinctive product of the US and so TTB protects it in ways that it does not protect other whiskey.  Look to the fairly recent revenue ruling on general use formulas for guidance on that.  Bottom line, you may not add, to bourbon,  any flavor, such as that which might be obtained from storage in a sherry barrel, without changing the class and type designation.

4.  Other whiskeys may or may not be deemed to undergo a change in class and type when finished in a used sherry barrel.  ISee 5.23(a)(2) -  There may be added to any class or type of distilled spirits, without changing the class or type thereof, (ii) harmless coloring, flavoring, or blending materials such as [and therefore not limited too] caramel, straight malt or straight rye malt whiskies, fruit juices, sugar, infusion of oak chips when approved by the Administrator, or wine, which are not an essential component part of the particular distilled spirits to which added, but which are customarily employed therein in accordance with established trade usage, if such coloring, flavoring, or blending materials do not total more than 212 percent by volume of the finished product.

5. What is customarily employed, in  whiskey other than bourbon, in accordance with established usage.  I don't want to venture a prediction, but   ...

6.  Look at Angel's Envy approvals for the bourbon whiskey and other whiskey finished in other than new charred oak.   Also look at the way in which many labels split  the required statements of composition and what TTB has taken to be the "fanciful name."  I did that once.  Ii don't recall the details, but seem to recall that bourbon was treated differently from other whiskeys.  I'd look too, but right now I'm trying to keep my head above water.  So I'll just offer the route I'd try to follow to determine how to proceed if I had the time. 

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