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Beach Time

Hopped Whiskey(?)

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I know a lot of us distill beer from a local brewer that is either custom brewed or more likely something old or off that they need to destroy.

So I submit a COLA for said whiskey and get told you need a Formula.

Submit formula and it is approved as "spirits specialty" (can't call it whiskey).

Any comments regarding hopped whiskeys?

PM me if necessary.

Thanks, Greg

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There was a little back and forth necessary for the COLA for our IPA-cask finished bourbon, but they approved after we provided all clarifications.  Not quite the same, but not so different either.

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17 hours ago, Silk City Distillers said:

There was a little back and forth necessary for the COLA for our IPA-cask finished bourbon, but they approved after we provided all clarifications.  Not quite the same, but not so different either.

Thanks for the comment, I'll have to call and talk to a specialist. If I get anywhere I'll post back.

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As stated above hops are not a grain and therefor the product does not fall in the category of whiskey but  " Distilled Spirits Specialty."  If hops are added to whiskey after aging it would be called "Hop Flavored Whiskey."

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51 minutes ago, Micah Nutt said:

As stated above hops are not a grain and therefor the product does not fall in the category of whiskey but  " Distilled Spirits Specialty."  If hops are added to whiskey after aging it would be called "Hop Flavored Whiskey."

There are products in the marketplace that claim both to be distilled from hopped beer and to be American Whisky. The purpose of this post is to discover if there is some path forward to make similar claims.  If, as it appears, there is no away to call spirits distilled from hopped beer "whiskey" then either those already in the marketplace are making false claims regarding the use of hopped beer in the approved formula or they are not in compliance (or the TTB screwed up and approved the COLA in error). Am I missing something?

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On a spirit label the TTB spirit "type" must be declared.  However, a fanciful name or descriptor (if approved) is allowed if not on the same line as the spirit "type."  Sometimes incorrect labels are approved.  Sometimes unapproved labels are used.

 

 

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I don't mean to hijack but what if you made a beer from a mash entirely of cereal and used hops in a botanical chamber?

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Not to completely derail the thread here, but what about making bourbon mash with a hop extract in small amounts for antiseptic properties as some have discussed? Is it an ingredient or processing aid, and if that is a processing aid at what point does it become an ingredient?

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10 minutes ago, Tom Lenerz said:

Not to completely derail the thread here, but what about making bourbon mash with a hop extract in small amounts for antiseptic properties as some have discussed? Is it an ingredient or processing aid, and if that is a processing aid at what point does it become an ingredient?

Sorry, any hops in there will not be recognized as a typical or traditional processing aid (for whiskey). Nominally, there is no de minimis. What is true, is they will ask for a formula (if anything suggests on the label that it has hops, before or after distillation), and then they will decide the category (special or flavored whiskey, depending). If you could get it down low enough for them to ignore it, it would likely have to have no flavor effect, in which case it is immaterial, you couldn't say it is in there, and it would be much less than found in any hopped beer. Of course, if your label doesn't allude to the presence of hops at all, then they will never know its there, and will approve the label. There are plenty of whiskeys out there that are not technically whiskey because the label is legal, but it does not describe what is in the bottle (distilled over 160 or chaptalized mash, etc.) and no formula was submitted.

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8 hours ago, Beach Time said:

There are products in the marketplace that claim both to be distilled from hopped beer and to be American Whisky. The purpose of this post is to discover if there is some path forward to make similar claims.  If, as it appears, there is no away to call spirits distilled from hopped beer "whiskey" then either those already in the marketplace are making false claims regarding the use of hopped beer in the approved formula or they are not in compliance (or the TTB screwed up and approved the COLA in error). Am I missing something?

There are plenty of products out there, particularly from 4 or more years ago, that got approved labels, but incorrectly. Over time, the TTB has been cleaning that up. Yah, there are a lot of COLA errors still floating around. Even when the TTB finds them, for small producers they usually don't require items to be pulled from shelves, or rebottled, or relabeled. Sometimes, they will even let them finish out the use of printed labels (a bad practice, IMO). But eventually, they have to fix it. How many whiskeys are out there that still have the "aged less than x years" statement (illegal)? Or no age statement, but clearly the whiskey is not 4 years old (illegal)?

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Thanks for all the comments, had no luck getting to a specialist.... the old leave a message and we'll return your call.  They did try calling twice but the line was dead. I get enough robocalls to know my phone works fine... most of the time I'm satisfied with my dealings with the regulators, but this one is really frustrating.

BTW, it is common to use hop extract in the tropics in rum production, I hear it increases yield due to it's anti-microbial properties... so should those rums also be called "spirit specialty" since they are not 100% sugar cane products??? The enquiring mind wants to know. B)

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15 hours ago, bluestar said:

There are plenty of products out there, particularly from 4 or more years ago, that got approved labels, but incorrectly. Over time, the TTB has been cleaning that up. Yah, there are a lot of COLA errors still floating around. Even when the TTB finds them, for small producers they usually don't require items to be pulled from shelves, or rebottled, or relabeled. Sometimes, they will even let them finish out the use of printed labels (a bad practice, IMO). But eventually, they have to fix it. How many whiskeys are out there that still have the "aged less than x years" statement (illegal)? Or no age statement, but clearly the whiskey is not 4 years old (illegal)?

Reminds me of the DFH beer called "Golden Shower", the specialist didn't know the alternate meaning of the phrase and approved the COLA. :lol:

It was caught later and the COLA retracted.

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3 hours ago, Beach Time said:

Is the issue flavor/aroma impact or that there is something other than the base fernenable?

Okay, now you muddied the waters. You can use various chemical, non-flavor, additives as part of production if they are recognized as being standard or typical, like adding certain yeast nutrients or maybe anti-microbials. If you want to be sure, you submit a formula for approval. You are supposed to put all of those in your formulas now (used to be you did not have to mention yeast or nutrients, but now they do require it, even water added). In that context, that might get approved for use, even in whiskey. But that the chemical is derived from hops is incidental, it is not hops. It is left to the TTB to make these judgement calls. What you can not do is assume: TTB should allow use of hops as a botanical in making whiskey because TTB allows a hop-derived, flavor-free chemical to be used in small quantities for an anti-microbial. Nice try, but no dice.

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