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Are Whiskey Labels Due For Changes?

How much do you know about your whiskey?

At first glance, it seems as if the labels on these aged, distilled spirits tell us quite a lot about their origins. The federal government has always played a significant role in determining how whiskey is made, and what is allowed to bear the name.

For instance, by law, nothing can be called “bourbon” unless it has been produced in the United States, is made from a mash bill of at least 51 percent corn and is aged in new white oak barrels for at minimum of two years. 

The labeling on most bottles available today reflects these rules. Your bottle will tell you what type of whiskey you are drinking, how strong it is, and it will usually include an age statement. For years, this was enough for most consumers.

But as craft distilling has rapidly proliferated across the country, things have begun to change. It turns out that there is a lot of information that is not being included on whiskey labels, and drinkers are increasingly interested in knowing more.

Craft distillers may soon have to redesign their labels to comply with new rules and guidelines.

What’s In A Word?
If you’ve spent any amount of time perusing the whiskey shelves in a decently-stocked liquor store, you’ve probably noticed a number of common marketing terms. Bottle labels may describe the product as “craft,” “small batch” or even “handmade.”

Despite official appearances, these words have no settled legal definition. Consumers who think they are purchasing a product made on a small Kentucky farm may actually be drinking whiskey that was mass distilled and aged by a large facility in Indiana, and there is no requirement that they be told otherwise.

This is a particular problem now, with new craft distillers popping up all over the U.S. Since properly-made whiskey takes a significant amount of time to age and bottle, some distillers will get their foot in the door of an increasingly crowded marketplace by selling whiskey made by someone else under their label.

For instance, last year the Louisville Distilling Co., maker of Angel’s Envy, was sued for allegedly misleading consumers about the origins of its rye whiskey. The Lexington Herald Leader reported that product was allegedly made by Midwest Grain Products – a large distillery in Indiana that supplies numerous brands around the world – while still being marketed as “small batch.” 

Calls for change have prompted the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau to consider changes to existing spirit labeling laws. One idea, according to Eater, is to require that all bottles contain a “Distilled By” labeling requirement. Another proposal is to create more accurate definitions for terms like “craft” or “small batch,” or even strike them from labels altogether.

Craft distillers may soon have to redesign their custom labels to comply with new rules and guidelines. Durafast offers printing solutions that help you produce exactly what you are looking for. Contact us today!

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