Jump to content
Julius

Liqueur/DSS Labeling

Recommended Posts

We currently produce and sell a liqueur. We tried finishing the liqueur in cooperage, and it is delicious, now we want to sell it. 

The formula was approved by FONL as a liqueur. Upon submission to COLA they rejected the label because of the words “Finished in Whiskey Barrels.”

The Formula did not have any labeling suggestions provided.

I called the TTB this morning, asked how do we denote that the product touches cooperage, and she didn’t have an answer and told me they would call back. She calls back and says that Formula now says it isn’t a liqueur, but rather a DSS, and that a statement of composition is required? But she still didn’t have an answer on how to denote that this is the exact same product as our standard liqueur, but  touches cooperage.

Does anyone have experience with barrel Finished liqueurs? Is it not allowed to state cooperage  is used in liqueur production? Does putting a liqueur in a barrel really change class to a DSS? 

A fellow distiller suggested that we sell it under the same COLA and just change the color of the label, this suggestion doesn’t seem like the correct answer to me?

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What was the exact language of the rejection? If they rejected it as an age statement, then you simply have to find some other language to use that explains the use of the barrel.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We've had something similar happen when we said our Malt Whiskey was finished in used beer barrels. They rejected that and said I needed a formula. I submitted a formula for a Malt Whiskey finished in used beer barrels and FONL came back and accepted the formula BUT said now it's a DSS and the statement of composition should say: Malt Whiskey finished in used beer barrels.

From my experience, anytime your product goes slightly outside the typical Class definition then they want it to be DSS. You may get stuck with a DSS but maybe you can write the statement of composition as "xxxxx Liqueur finished in whiskey barrels" So maybe "xxxx Liqueur" may get you close to the original liqueur name. But now you'll also need a fanciful name.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
59 minutes ago, Jedd Haas said:

What was the exact language of the rejection? If they rejected it as an age statement, then you simply have to find some other language to use that explains the use of the barrel.

  • You may not make false or misleading statements on labels. 27 CFR 5.42
  • Additional Clarification:
  • You will need to remove "Finish in Whiskey Barrels" on the liqueur product.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don’t understand why putting a liqueur in cooperage makes it not a liqueur any more 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To start, you mean you had a formula approved as a liqueur where you did not describe finishing it in barrels? And then you submitted a COLA request that included "Finished in Whiskey Barrels" on the label? Well, of course if so, that would fail, because the label and formula did not match. So now the question is with FONL, why is it approved as a DSS instead of a liqueur if it has spent time in a barrel. It can't be because it has been in a barrel per se: there are many liqueurs based on whiskey as the source material. You might want to ask the question in just that way to someone in formulas, why does spending time in barrel prevent it from being a liqueur? 5.40 (5) (d) prohibits age statements for BOTH liqueurs and DSS, so I don't see why if that phrase was allowed for one, it is not allowed for the other, as far as age statement. So, they are not regarding it as an age statement. A liqueur is something with at least 2.5% sugar and extract flavors from natural materials. Perhaps you need to point out to them that oak barrels are natural materials, and any extract that may result from them would be just part of what constitutes the total of extractive materials for making the liqueur?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
21 minutes ago, bluestar said:

To start, you mean you had a formula approved as a liqueur where you did not describe finishing it in barrels? And then you submitted a COLA request that included "Finished in Whiskey Barrels" on the label? Well, of course if so, that would fail, because the label and formula did not match. So now the question is with FONL, why is it approved as a DSS instead of a liqueur if it has spent time in a barrel. It can't be because it has been in a barrel per se: there are many liqueurs based on whiskey as the source material. You might want to ask the question in just that way to someone in formulas, why does spending time in barrel prevent it from being a liqueur? 5.40 (5) (d) prohibits age statements for BOTH liqueurs and DSS, so I don't see why if that phrase was allowed for one, it is not allowed for the other, as far as age statement. So, they are not regarding it as an age statement. A liqueur is something with at least 2.5% sugar and extract flavors from natural materials. Perhaps you need to point out to them that oak barrels are natural materials, and any extract that may result from them would be just part of what constitutes the total of extractive materials for making the liqueur?

No. My formula clearly states the barrel finishing process and subsequent proofing. The formula matches the label explicitly. 

 

FONL classified it as a liqueur initially. The agent on the phone spent ten minutes talking to someone and then came back and said it’s not a liqueur it’s a DSS. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Seems to me that whenever the word "whiskey" shows up on the label they get a boost of energy to read the regs and find something they don't like. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, Julius said:

No. My formula clearly states the barrel finishing process and subsequent proofing. The formula matches the label explicitly. 

 

FONL classified it as a liqueur initially. The agent on the phone spent ten minutes talking to someone and then came back and said it’s not a liqueur it’s a DSS. 

You could push back, although I would have someone read over your formulation to make sure something else isn't tripping the DSS classification. They make mistakes, and more importantly, you own their mistake, meaning if they later figure out it is classified wrong, they can make you change it back. Do you "age" the product before or after you add the sugar?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, Patio29Dadio said:

Seems to me that whenever the word "whiskey" shows up on the label they get a boost of energy to read the regs and find something they don't like. 

Yeah, I wondered about that, by using the word whiskey, and calling it a liqueur, if the base spirit is not a whiskey, it could be mistaken for a whiskey liqueur, which has a specific meaning in the CFR. But that problem usually shows up with the COLA evaluation, but not the FONL. So, you may be right, this initially is what tripped the COLA rejection, but still does not explain the FONL reclassification.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 minutes ago, bluestar said:

You could push back, although I would have someone read over your formulation to make sure something else isn't tripping the DSS classification. They make mistakes, and more importantly, you own their mistake, meaning if they later figure out it is classified wrong, they can make you change it back. Do you "age" the product before or after you add the sugar?

Sugar added before adding to barrels. We take the final product that would normally go into bottles, and barrel it. I’m expecting a call from them today, I will report back what they say.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

After a lot of BS from Cola, we are just going to completely eliminate the word barrel on the label and replace with “reserve’ and just reference barrels in marketing material. What a shit show in DC.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/19/2018 at 11:20 AM, Julius said:

Sugar added before adding to barrels. We take the final product that would normally go into bottles, and barrel it. I’m expecting a call from them today, I will report back what they say.

I think I see what could be the problem? You could start with spirit, add natural flavor and sugar, and be a liqueur. You could probably put it into cooperage afterward and still be a liqueur, since any flavor from exposure to wood would be natural extractive. But if you specifically call out you make a liqueur and later place in a whiskey barrel, this means flavoring could be coming from both wood (natural) and residual whiskey components (man-made), and so could be seen as taking it out of the liqueur category into a specialty.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/20/2018 at 11:10 AM, Julius said:

After a lot of BS from Cola, we are just going to completely eliminate the word barrel on the label and replace with “reserve’ and just reference barrels in marketing material. What a shit show in DC.

We usually have no problem using the term "Barrel Reserve" on our labels, although we have had a couple times where one agent did not approve it, but it was approved by another or their supervisor. I doubt you will get away with a front label statement citing "Whiskey Barrels" unless the product is whiskey.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, bluestar said:

I think I see what could be the problem? You could start with spirit, add natural flavor and sugar, and be a liqueur. You could probably put it into cooperage afterward and still be a liqueur, since any flavor from exposure to wood would be natural extractive. But if you specifically call out you make a liqueur and later place in a whiskey barrel, this means flavoring could be coming from both wood (natural) and residual whiskey components (man-made), and so could be seen as taking it out of the liqueur category into a specialty.

I believe this is the issue they took with it. We eliminated the word barrel and we got approval. It’s a product we have to hand sell any, oh well. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×