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California Whisky Barrel Ageing regs

Newbie in CA

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I am aware that in chapter 4 of the Fed's Beverage Alcohol Manual the time that different whiskies have to age in barrels is clearly laid out.

My question is - do different states have differing regs that go beyond the Fed's? I have seen a couple of posts for example that have mentioned that in California some whisky (if not "straight" whisky) must be aged for a minimum of 3 years.

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25175 of the ABC act indicates whiskey shall be 3yo or older...but you should read it. There are some exceptions listed. It also may be a section that they have no interest in enforcing so long as the product is labeled for sale in

That section has to do with packaged products, so you can likely produce whatever you want, but you might not be able to sell it in CA.

Good luck,


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This is fascinating! Apparently, all micro-distillery whiskeys are illegal in California. Presumably if this rule were to be enforced it could be challenged on the grounds that the federal rules control, but it would be interesting. Here the section is in its entirety.

25175. Age of whiskey. Any person who sells at retail any potable spirituous liquor product labeled as whiskey, including blended whiskey and blends of straight

whiskeys, except products containing 20 or more percent of straight whiskey or whiskeys which have been aged in charred oak containers for three or more years after distillation and before bottling is guilty of a misdemeanor, except that this section does not prohibit the sale at retail of unaged corn whiskey, when so labeled, or the sale at retail of gins, brandies, rums, cordials, liqueurs, bitters, or other distilled liquor products or products compounded of distilled spirits and other materials, when in no wise labeled as whiskey or blended whiskey or blends of straight whiskeys, or the sale at retail of Scotch whiskeys, or spirit whiskeys containing not less than 5 percent straight whiskey, three years old or older.

History.—Stats. 1970, Ch. 534, in effect November 23, 1970, added last clause concerning spirit whiskeys. Stats.

1984, Ch. 921, in effect January 1, 1985, substituted ‘‘three’’ for ‘‘four’’.

Cross reference.—Health and Safety Code section 26550, et seq., Misbranding of foods.

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That's not what the 20% is referring to. It means 20% of the volume, as in an American blended whiskey which must have at least 20% whiskey and up to 80% GNS/vodka. The clarification to refer explicitly to straight whiskey followed by three years of aging in NCO means that it can't just be straight whiskey where the minimum age is 2 years.

Wonder what this would mean for NAS whiskey? Without an age statement, just saying it's straight whiskey isn't old enough.

Old Potrero is under 2 years and has been on the market a while. Does CA require registration of brand labels for spirits? If so, the state itself has been ignoring their own law.

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This is very interesting from the standpoint that this is one of the things the so called CARE act (HR1161) was supposed to allow- states to override federal alcohol regulation. I'm no lawyer but it seems if challenged under current laws CA could be in violation of the Commerce Clause? Passage of the CARE act could result in any state setting their own class & type, label and even formulation requirements.

See this post and contact your house members-


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I've been looking into this. The Old Potrero labels were changed because they were using used barrels, not because of the aging requirement. This seems to be one of those laws that is universally ignored despite being on the books.

It is a great example of the mischief HR 1161 could cause if enacted. Imagine if this was enforced?

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