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Using wine as a component of a distilled spirit specialty

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Anyone using wine as a flavoring ingredient in a distilled spirit specialty (greater than 2.5%)?

Just running through the regs, wine is considered a blending material, and in a distilled spirit specialty may exceed 2.5%.  Just wondering what I'm missing.

 

 

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jeffw    6

Been wondering this too.  Seems funny to have something like 90+ percent wine though and make a vermouth...could always get a winery license but who the hell wants to do that...

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Tom Lenerz    12

Per making a vermouth at a DSP vs BW, I'd point out that it is in the eyes of the TTB, a wine.

See Title 27, Chapter 1, Subchapter A, Part 4, Subpart C Standards of Identity for Wine

§4.21   The standards of identity.

(g) Class 7; aperitif wine. (1) Aperitif wine is wine having an alcoholic content of not less than 15 percent by volume, compounded from grape wine containing added brandy or alcohol, flavored with herbs and other natural aromatic flavoring materials, with or without the addition of caramel for coloring purposes, and possessing the taste, aroma, and characteristics generally attributed to aperitif wine and shall be so designated unless designated as “vermouth” under paragraph (g)(2) of this section.

(2) Vermouth is a type of aperitif wine compounded from grape wine, having the taste, aroma, and characteristics generally attributed to vermouth, and shall be so designated.

So to make vermouth you have to do it at a BW, you could probably make a vermouth in a DSP, but the question is how does it get labeled. Not to mention, the higher tax rates, and the tighter regs for proofing.

Per using vermouth in a DSS, the TTB does have several recognized cocktails (Manhattan/Martini) that include vermouth.

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dhdunbar    35

I'll take a look at this through the regulations.  The BAM is good, but it does not get down to how TTB makes decisions, so it is not of a great deal of use in deciding how to frame issues if you would like to get a change.  

Tom Lenerz, and perhaps others in this thread too, is correct.  Vermouth is a wine in TTB's eyes and therefore you make it on winery premises, not DSP premises.  It is a separate qualification.   To call it vermouth it has to fit the standard stated above.  

Next, the spirits labeling regulations (part 5) define distilled spirits and the definition makes reference to wine.  A distilled spirit is "Ethyl alcohol, hydrated oxide of ethyl, spirits of wine, whisky, rum, brandy, gin, and other distilled spirits, including all dilutions and mixtures thereof, for nonindustrial use. The term “distilled spirits” shall not include mixtures containing wine, bottled at 48 degrees of proof or less, if the mixture contains more than 50 percent wine on a proof gallon basis."  

Thus, one can extrapolate to a rule, "The term distilled spirits shall include mixtures containing wine, including mixtures bottled at 48 degrees of proof or less, if the mixture does not contain more than 50 percent wine on a proof gallon basis."  That blows the 2.5% limit out of the water except where the standard for the class and type impose a limit of not more than 2.5%.  For example, Class 8, Cordials and Liqueurs, has a type "rye liqueur (and other whiskey types) that states, "(2) “Rye liqueur”, “bourbon liqueur” (rye, bourbon cordial) are liqueurs, bottled at not less than 60° proof, in which not less than 51 percent, on a proof gallon basis, of the distilled spirits used are, respectively, rye or bourbon whisky, straight rye or straight bourbon whisky, or whisky distilled from a rye or bourbon mash, and which possess a predominant characteristic rye or bourbon flavor derived from such whisky. Wine, if used, must be within the 21/2percent limitation provided in §5.23 for coloring, flavoring, and blending materials.

The 2.5 limitation in section 5.23 addresses whether the additions of harmless coloring, flavoring and blending material, to which Silk City and perhaps others too, mentions. changes the class and  type.  Some do; some do not.  5.23 provides, in pertinent part, "(2) There may be added to any class or type of distilled spirits, without changing the class or type thereof, (i) such harmless coloring, flavoring, or blending materials as are an essential component part of the particular class or type of distilled spirits to which added, and (ii) harmless coloring, flavoring, or blending materials such as 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 21/2 percent by volume of the finished product." 

The customary use provision came into play when TTB decided whether the addition of wine to American type whiskey is allowed without changing class and type.  That is another subject, but I thought I should mention it here, lest someone take a wrong way turn up a one way street.  Those who look at the BAM have an advantage here, because prior to the ruling on general use formulas, there were no higher level documents that discussed the issue of why bourbon is treated differently from rye whiskey when it comes to the addition of harmless coloring, flavoring and blending materials within the 2.5% limit.  If you do not have need to understand that issue (say you do not plan to "finish" bourbon in port barrels), do not wade into that pool.  

Finally, the specialty provisions apply because they give you the ability to create products other than those that conform to class and type designations.  Here, the limits imposed by the definition of distilled spirits, where this post started, determine if you can label it as a spirits product.  

 

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bluestar    42

There is a style of amaro called vermouth amaro, which uses wine as the primary base material. What they are classified in the USA is unclear for the traditional Italian products. In the USA, the TTB is primarily interested in getting the maximum taxes, so the rules are focussed on getting you OUT of the wine category. You stay IN the wine category by fortifying wine with spirits distilled from the SAME wine or fruit as the base wine. Otherwise, you become a distilled spirit, and most likely, you become a specialty, since high wine content is not part of any of the standard categories, although in some cases, at high enough proof (less wine more spirit) and sweetened, you might be a liqueur. So, what we have considered doing, and recommend others could do the same, is try making a vermouth amaro, with either a non-wine-based spirit or enough spirit to take you out of the wine category, and put you into the spirit category, and get its formula approved as a specialty. Whether they would allow you to use the description or fanciful description of "vermouth amaro" is unclear.

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bluestar    42
15 minutes ago, dhdunbar said:

Next, the spirits labeling regulations (part 5) define distilled spirits and the definition makes reference to wine.  A distilled spirit is "Ethyl alcohol, hydrated oxide of ethyl, spirits of wine, whisky, rum, brandy, gin, and other distilled spirits, including all dilutions and mixtures thereof, for nonindustrial use. The term “distilled spirits” shall not include mixtures containing wine, bottled at 48 degrees of proof or less, if the mixture contains more than 50 percent wine on a proof gallon basis."  

 

This still gives you much leeway. For example, if you have a 10% ABV (20 proof) wine, you can mix that about 5:1 with a spirit above 100 proof, and the result will be less than 50% wine on a proof gallon basis, and hence can be bottled at less than 48 proof (it will in fact be a bit above 16% alcohol, or 32 proof, less than many fortified wines). So it should be possible to bottle something that is at typical fortified wine proof (less than 40 proof), but contains less than 50% wine on a proof gallon basis, and so would be a distilled spirit. If you want more of the flavor profile of a fortified wine, key might be using lower proof wine with higher proof spirit.

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The basis for the question is serving cocktails in the tasting room.  How does one make a Manhattan, if you can only sell your own products?

At first you might go down the path of making a vermouth-like spirit, like @bluestar mentions, or perhaps just skip that entirely and bottle the cocktail, for sale in the tasting room.

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bluestar    42
9 hours ago, Silk City Distillers said:

The basis for the question is serving cocktails in the tasting room.  How does one make a Manhattan, if you can only sell your own products?

At first you might go down the path of making a vermouth-like spirit, like @bluestar mentions, or perhaps just skip that entirely and bottle the cocktail, for sale in the tasting room.

Yes, exactly, we have considered both avenues for the same reason. We will likely try both.

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Kaweaver    0
On 9/6/2017 at 11:25 AM, bluestar said:

This still gives you much leeway. For example, if you have a 10% ABV (20 proof) wine, you can mix that about 5:1 with a spirit above 100 proof, and the result will be less than 50% wine on a proof gallon basis, and hence can be bottled at less than 48 proof (it will in fact be a bit above 16% alcohol, or 32 proof, less than many fortified wines). So it should be possible to bottle something that is at typical fortified wine proof (less than 40 proof), but contains less than 50% wine on a proof gallon basis, and so would be a distilled spirit. If you want more of the flavor profile of a fortified wine, key might be using lower proof wine with higher proof spirit.

I have been looking through the TTB chapters and I am curious about something. If one was to do as @bluestar mentions, what would the liquor be classified as according to the TTB definitions?

Based on the class and type designation, would it be a Flavored Brandy with XX% wine added? This is based on the following quote from https://www.ttb.gov/spirits/bam/chapter4.pdf.

Flavored Brandy:

"Wine may be added up to 15% by volume of the finished product provided at least 12½% of the wine is derived from the base commodity that corresponds to the labeled flavor of the product. If not, or if the wine addition exceeds 15% by volume of the finished product the classes and/or types and percentages (by volume) of the wine must be stated as part of the class and type designation"

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bluestar    42
8 hours ago, Kaweaver said:

Flavored Brandy:

"Wine may be added up to 15% by volume of the finished product provided at least 12½% of the wine is derived from the base commodity that corresponds to the labeled flavor of the product. If not, or if the wine addition exceeds 15% by volume of the finished product the classes and/or types and percentages (by volume) of the wine must be stated as part of the class and type designation"

It looks to me that this specifically is for something labeled as a flavored brandy. So that you would end up with something like "blueberry brandy flavored with 20% of grape wine"?

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bluestar    42
17 hours ago, Kaweaver said:

Right, but if a product like that was produced with the plan to distribute, what would it need to be called. It couldn't be called a vermouth, right?

Of course it can't be called vermouth, because it is not wine. But you might be able to call it a fanciful name, like vermouth amaro. That will be a TTB call, whether if flavored with vermouth and an amaro, that would be an allowable terminology not considered misleading.

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