Jump to content

modified definition of Vodka by TTB


Recommended Posts

I understand that the words “to be without distinctive character, aroma, taste, or color.” have been removed and additives of sugar ad citric acid have been added.

What i cannot truly understand is what were distillers doing differently earlier and what could they do now that the words “to be without distinctive character, aroma, taste, or color.” have been removed?

After all, the definition of vodka still says that it is to be made from neutral spirit which as i understand would have mere traces of congeners thus anyway yielding an alcoholic beverage without distinctive character, aroma, and taste

Can someone throw some light on this with a concrete example?



Link to comment
Share on other sites

I dunno, but in the craft space, at least locally, there are several "Vodka's" that definitely still do have some distinctive aroma and taste, but they've been allowed to be labeled as Vodka.  I mean, really, every Vodka has something distinctive or there wouldn't be any brands. This is my woefully ignorant opinion, anyway.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 6 months later...

Basically it means the vodka can have the characteristics of whatever it was distilled from. Spirits distilled to over 95% abv still can retain taste and aromas from their base. For example, I received a sample "neutral" spirit from a company that makes NA wine by stripping out the alcohol from the wine. The spirit retained some of the flavor from the wines even though it was 190 proof. Under the prior definition from the TTB this couldn't be sold as vodka because it had "distinctive character, aroma, taste."

A good product I found out in the market was from Copperworks in Seattle. Their malt vodka has a distinctive character and taste from the malt. Distilleries don't need to distill multiple times or run through carbon filters to remove as much flavor as possible anymore. Instead, the vodka can reflect the characteristics of the base that was fermented. I think it's a nice step forward for craft distilleries.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In the US we draw the line for "neutral" at 190 proof (distillation proof). EU and some other countries set that bar at 192 proof off the still. 

As others have stated, you can still get some character from your fermented base when collecting at 190 proof.  (It is harder to do so at 192 proof, since you're pretty close to azeotrope).

Even before the change was made, there were an absolute TON of products on the market that were labeled as vodka but were decidedly not neutral. In my humble opinion, TTB making this change was just adjusting the regs to match what distillers were already doing.

Pedantic note - the allowance to add sugar and citric to Vodka is actually quite old... here's a ruling from 1997 on the topic: https://www.ttb.gov/images/pdfs/rulings/97-1.htm

Link to comment
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
  • Create New...