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Blue Jay One

Blending Our Vodka and NGS Labeling

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We are making a 100% Corn Vodka from scratch and everyone that makes vodka from scratch knows it is a time killer.  Luckily people like our vodka and as we begin to max out our production ability we are thinking of ways to stretch the quality product that we have.  Our question is:  If we blend our 100% Corn Vodka (55-60%) with another 100% Corn Vodka from a bigger company (40-45%) what would we have to change on our label.  With straight vodka there is no Formula process so I called TTB Labeling and they sent me to Formula.  No one at the TTB was much help, hopefully I can get some on the forum.  Our bottle statements are:

1) 100% Corn

2) Distilled from Grain

3) Distilled and Bottle by US

 

Thanks!

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Interesting question.  I know of one spirit that is a mix of 50% distilled on site and 50% purchased product, and they are using the "Distilled and Bottled by us" statement. 

Taking a look at the book, I would think you would only be allowed to use the "Produced and Bottled by us" statement as it specifically includes a provision/exception in the next section that allows for a blend of multiple straight whiskies made at separate distilleries (but only if from the same state) to include the statement "distilled by" with both distilleries listed.  No similar exception or right is given for Vodka.  No percentage level is given for when you can claim its "distilled by" rather than "produced by"  Basically you either distilled it (all of it) and can claim that, or you just produced/bottled/packaged it and can only claim that.   

 

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Thanks HedgeBird,

There is much truth in your last statement.  And I know that most consumers will not notice the difference between "Distilled" and "Produced" but I want the dang credit for all those long days, at least from our peers.  This revelation result in another question:

Do I need to resubmit COLA if the only thing on the bottle changing is "Distilled" to "Produced"?

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1 hour ago, Blue Jay One said:

but I want the dang credit for all those long days, at least from our peers. 

from one bird to another, I hear you on that! :lol:

1 hour ago, Blue Jay One said:

Do I need to resubmit COLA if the only thing on the bottle changing is "Distilled" to "Produced"?

The FAQ thingy indicates that you are allowed to change from  "Produced by" to "Vinted by" without a re-submisson.   You can also change the name or trade name that does the distilling/producing/bottling.  While not explicitly stated, I think this indicates that changes to this statement in general are allowable and would not need a new COLA!

https://www.ttb.gov/labeling/allowable_revisions.shtml

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You can produce vodka by filtration of neutral spirits, so if you purchase bulk product, which you filter and  blend, you could claim produced by.  You can't add unfiltered neutral spirits to vodka and make vodka because of the requirement that you must further refine neutral spirits to manufacture vodka - although you could designate the neutral spirits as vodka a the time of the production gauge and no, I do not know how that sausage got ground.  Further, you would have to have a statement about the percentage of neutral spirits that you have in the blend.  You cannot claim distilled by unless you distill it all.  It's too late to cite the sections of the regulations that apply.  

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5 hours ago, dhdunbar said:

You can produce vodka by filtration of neutral spirits, so if you purchase bulk product, which you filter and  blend, you could claim produced by.  You can't add unfiltered neutral spirits to vodka and make vodka because of the requirement that you must further refine neutral spirits to manufacture vodka - although you could designate the neutral spirits as vodka a the time of the production gauge and no, I do not know how that sausage got ground.  Further, you would have to have a statement about the percentage of neutral spirits that you have in the blend.  You cannot claim distilled by unless you distill it all.  It's too late to cite the sections of the regulations that apply.  

Where are you getting your information that neutral spirits must be filtered? They do not have to be filtered to be vodka. Reread the reg.

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Just photocopy a Tito's label, and put in the appropriate % and don't forget to enter a lot of Honey Boo Boo pay to play spirits competitions, to ring up some fancy medals.

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MGL - I assure you that I know regulations pretty well. Sometimes I mess up, but this is not one of them.  Neutral spirits is a class.  Vodka is a type under the class.  You can produce vodka in three ways.  Vodka has a standard of identity.  So let's look at the regulation.

(a) Class 1; neutral spirits or alcohol. “Neutral spirits” or “alcohol” are distilled spirits produced from any material at or above 190° proof, and, if bottled, bottled at not less than 80° proof.

(1) “Vodka” is neutral spirits so distilled, or so treated after distillation with charcoal or other materials, as to be without distinctive character, aroma, taste, or color.

You can make vodka by filing a statement of production procedure and then designating it vodka at the time of the production product gauge.  That fits into the "so distilled" provision.  Youy are correct about such a product not having to be filtered.  But it is not designated neutral spirits.  it is designated vodka.  If you designate the distillate as neutral spirits at the time of the production gauge, the "so treated after distillation with charcoal or other materials" provision comes into play.  Generally, the treatment is either redistillation, per the Tito model that someone mentioned, or filtrations.  There might be some other way to "so treat" neutral spirits, but I don't know anyone who is employing that.

Next, 5.27 says, "Formulas are required for distilled spirits operations which change the character, composition, class or type of spirits as follows:"  One of the as follows states, this includes "

(l) The production of vodka by—

(1) Treatment of neutral spirits with not less than one ounce of activated carbon per 100 wine gallons of spirits;

(2) Redistillation of pure spirits so as to be without distinctive character, aroma, taste, or color;

(3) Mixing with other spirits or with any other substance or material except pure water, after production; and

Recently TTB has granted a general use formula that allows you to filter without filing a formula, so you are covered, but the formula is still required.  

This sort of discussion is why I do not like to post short answers that do not cite a specific section of regulation.  Last night it was late and I broke that rule, so the challenge was appropriate, even it it might have been more politely worded :-). I'm glad to be found wrong, because I learn something from it.  But this is not one of those cases.

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Roger i hear you about Tito's.  I think that the handmade statement on the label is very misleading.  A customer told me yesterday that Tito's sold over $90,000,000.00 worth of Vodka last year.  Do you think that is true?

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5 minutes ago, Southernhighlander said:

Roger i hear you about Tito's.  I think that the handmade statement on the label is very misleading.  A customer told me yesterday that Tito's sold over $90,000,000.00 worth of Vodka last year.  Do you think that is true?

Well if you believe this article from Forbes (2013) then yes.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/meghancasserly/2013/06/26/haunted-spirits-the-troubling-success-of-titos-handmade-vodka/#6f12b33312c9

"Tito's has exploded from a 16-gallon pot still in 1997 to a 26-acre operation that produced 850,000 cases last year, up 46% from 2011, pulling in an estimated $85 million in revenue."

 

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29 minutes ago, kkbodine said:

Well if you believe this article from Forbes (2013) then yes.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/meghancasserly/2013/06/26/haunted-spirits-the-troubling-success-of-titos-handmade-vodka/#6f12b33312c9

"Tito's has exploded from a 16-gallon pot still in 1997 to a 26-acre operation that produced 850,000 cases last year, up 46% from 2011, pulling in an estimated $85 million in revenue."

 

Thanks kkbodine,

 

That is truly amazing.  All other things aside, he really has the business end of it figured out.

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2 hours ago, dhdunbar said:

MGL - I assure you that I know regulations pretty well. Sometimes I mess up, but this is not one of them.  Neutral spirits is a class.  Vodka is a type under the class.  You can produce vodka in three ways.  Vodka has a standard of identity.  So let's look at the regulation.

(a) Class 1; neutral spirits or alcohol. “Neutral spirits” or “alcohol” are distilled spirits produced from any material at or above 190° proof, and, if bottled, bottled at not less than 80° proof.

(1) “Vodka” is neutral spirits so distilled, or so treated after distillation with charcoal or other materials, as to be without distinctive character, aroma, taste, or color.

You can make vodka by filing a statement of production procedure and then designating it vodka at the time of the production product gauge.  That fits into the "so distilled" provision.  Youy are correct about such a product not having to be filtered.  But it is not designated neutral spirits.  it is designated vodka.  If you designate the distillate as neutral spirits at the time of the production gauge, the "so treated after distillation with charcoal or other materials" provision comes into play.  Generally, the treatment is either redistillation, per the Tito model that someone mentioned, or filtrations.  There might be some other way to "so treat" neutral spirits, but I don't know anyone who is employing that.

Next, 5.27 says, "Formulas are required for distilled spirits operations which change the character, composition, class or type of spirits as follows:"  One of the as follows states, this includes "

(l) The production of vodka by—

(1) Treatment of neutral spirits with not less than one ounce of activated carbon per 100 wine gallons of spirits;

(2) Redistillation of pure spirits so as to be without distinctive character, aroma, taste, or color;

(3) Mixing with other spirits or with any other substance or material except pure water, after production; and

Recently TTB has granted a general use formula that allows you to filter without filing a formula, so you are covered, but the formula is still required.  

This sort of discussion is why I do not like to post short answers that do not cite a specific section of regulation.  Last night it was late and I broke that rule, so the challenge was appropriate, even it it might have been more politely worded :-). I'm glad to be found wrong, because I learn something from it.  But this is not one of those cases.

I'm sorry to offend your expertise mr dhdunbar, but you might want to re-read what you posted as it clearly says treating with carbon is not required.

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Where are you getting your information that neutral spirits must be filtered? They do not have to be filtered to be vodka. Reread the reg.

No offense.  But it is important to give correct info to avoid misleading people.

Saying that you do not need to filter neutral spirits to manufacture vodka does not say what you do need to do, and you do need to do something.  More often than not, what you do need to do is filter, not because it is required by regulation, but because some "treatment" is required and filtration is the most common solution.  So, you are right, it is not necessary, in all cases, to filter, but filtration is what is done, in most cases, to satisfy the requirement that you do something to treat the spirits to change the class and type from neutral spirits to vodka.  Its's also the handiest treatment, because people often filter, as a matter of routine, to make a better product, even if they are not changing the class and type.

If  you designate the product as vodka (19.305) at the time you make the production gauge (19.289 and 19.304), you can  bottle it as vodka  without further  "treatment."    But if you designate it as neutral spirits when you make the production gauge,, not vodka, it needs further "treatment"  to change the class and type(5.22).   

The further  treatment of spirits not produced as vodka under 19.305, is done oin the procecssing account., under a formula. (19.348 and 5.27). 

TTB has provided for a general use formula, so that you need not file a formula if you follow the procedures  found in RR 2006-3 (https://www.ttb.gov/rulings/2016-3.pdf). 

So, while it is true that the further treatment of the spirits that you chose to designate as neutral spirits at the time of the production gauge, need not be filtration,  unless you redistill such spirits, or treat them with some other material, then you must filter them before you may redesignate them vodka.   Filtration is the default treatment, not by regulation, but by practice. 

To say that you do not need to filter neutral spirits before redesignating them vodka is correct, but it is potentially misleading to someone who does not understand the nuances.  I just try to do my best to explain what people must do if they want to comply.  

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4 hours ago, dhdunbar said:

Where are you getting your information that neutral spirits must be filtered? They do not have to be filtered to be vodka. Reread the reg.

No offense.  But it is important to give correct info to avoid misleading people.

Saying that you do not need to filter neutral spirits to manufacture vodka does not say what you do need to do, and you do need to do something.  More often than not, what you do need to do is filter, not because it is required by regulation, but because some "treatment" is required and filtration is the most common solution.  So, you are right, it is not necessary, in all cases, to filter, but filtration is what is done, in most cases, to satisfy the requirement that you do something to treat the spirits to change the class and type from neutral spirits to vodka.  Its's also the handiest treatment, because people often filter, as a matter of routine, to make a better product, even if they are not changing the class and type.

If  you designate the product as vodka (19.305) at the time you make the production gauge (19.289 and 19.304), you can  bottle it as vodka  without further  "treatment."    But if you designate it as neutral spirits when you make the production gauge,, not vodka, it needs further "treatment"  to change the class and type(5.22).   

The further  treatment of spirits not produced as vodka under 19.305, is done oin the procecssing account., under a formula. (19.348 and 5.27). 

TTB has provided for a general use formula, so that you need not file a formula if you follow the procedures  found in RR 2006-3 (https://www.ttb.gov/rulings/2016-3.pdf). 

So, while it is true that the further treatment of the spirits that you chose to designate as neutral spirits at the time of the production gauge, need not be filtration,  unless you redistill such spirits, or treat them with some other material, then you must filter them before you may redesignate them vodka.   Filtration is the default treatment, not by regulation, but by practice. 

To say that you do not need to filter neutral spirits before redesignating them vodka is correct, but it is potentially misleading to someone who does not understand the nuances.  I just try to do my best to explain what people must do if they want to comply.  

Hmmm. There might be a reading of this that is in between. Dhdunbar is correct, you will need to submit a formula if you buy or make NGS that is not designated as vodka at the time of production, and you want to change it to vodka. And two ways to do that is to redistill it or filter it as explained in 5.27 (and you will need a formula approval for the TTB to determine the final product is vodka). Interestingly, item no. 3 in section 5.27 (l) suggests a third alternative: mixing with anything other than water (which won't change classification and type). That could be mixing NGS from one source with another, or maybe with a mouth-feel additive like sugar or glycerin. Then you will have to submit a formula to prove to the TTB the resulting spirit meets the requirements for vodka. That might require you to provide specifics on how the NGS was made, to essentially show that its method of manufacture assures a product that could have been classified as vodka, but wasn't at the time. But for you to say you produced, you have to do something to it beyond just repackaging it, which would be bottled by. But this does suggest, that contrary to dhdunbar, maybe you could mix your distilled vodka with purchased NGS and call it vodka, if you submit a formula for approval that describes the NGS and possibly how it was made by its source, so that the TTB decides the resulting product is vodka. It might be they won't approve. But perhaps this route is suggested by the CFR?

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