The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) today released the final document outlining changes to alcoholic beverage labeling regulations. The labeling modernization ruling, called “Notice 176: Modernization of the Labeling and Advertising Regulations” comes after a year of public comment, starting in late 2018, regarding proposed changes to existing regulations. The ruling officially goes into effect on May 4, 2020.
Perhaps most beneficial to distillers is a proposed change that is not being implemented, one that would have narrowly defined a “barrel” as being made solely of oak, and holding roughly 50 gallons. This is good news for those using small barrels. TTB says that they received over 700 comments addressing that proposed rule alone.
“We are super excited about the new rules changes,” says Donald Snyder, President of Whiskey Systems. “This is definitely good for the craft distilling community.”
Also among the changes is a loosening of the tolerance for proofing spirits to ±0.3%, or ±0.6 proof. The previous regulation allowed for only a 0.25% underproofing, and 0% overproofing.
The new rules will also now allow age statements on any spirit type, including gin. Additionally, the TTB rejected a change that would have prevented time spent in a second barrel from counting toward a spirit’s age. Now, whiskies or other spirits that are aged in multiple vessels can count all that time toward the age statement.
The TTB noted that these changes will not be the last to come out of their ongoing revision of labeling rules. This set of rulings focused on changes that were broadly noncontroversial and that did not require changes to existing labels. Other changes are expected to be released at a later date. Most notably, the TTB’s revisions did not address the potential creation of a standard of identity for American single malt whiskey. The American Single Malt Whiskey Commission and other industry leaders have championed the creation of such an identity, with their definition loosely modeled on existing standards for Scotch single malt and other world single malt whiskies.
You can read the full document here: Notice 176: Modernization of the Labeling and Advertising Regulations for Wine, Distilled Spirits, and Malt Beverages.