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Hi. Having just watched your video on Jack Daniels and Jim Beam I thought I would go away and re-read the regulations surrounding Bourbon again as it has been a while since I last saw them. I found them quite awkward to follow and wanted to see if you read them in the same way as me regarding colouring.In 5.23 it states:(3) “Harmless coloring, flavoring, and blending materials” shall not include (i) any material which would render the product to which it is added an imitation, or (ii) any material, other than caramel, infusion of oak chips, and sugar, in the case of Cognac brandy; or (iii) any material whatsoever in the case of neutral spirits or straight whiskey, except that vodka may be treated with sugar in an amount not to exceed 2 grams per liter and a trace amount of citric acid.In 5.39 it states:(3) If no coloring material other than caramel has been added, there may be stated in lieu of the words “artificially colored,” the words “colored with caramel,” or a substantially similar statement, but no such statement is required for the use of caramel in brandy, rum, or tequila, or in any type of whisky other than straight whisky.To me this suggests that in straight whisky/bourbon/etc no colouring, flavouring or blending materials of any kind are allowed (although confusingly in the paragraph above it seems to suggest that the words "artificially coloured" or "coloured with caramel" are required if added to straight whisky). However, the above also seems to suggest that if not designated as straight then bourbon can contain colouring and doesn't need to state it on the bottle.Have I interrpretted the regulations correctly? If not are you able to put me right and point me to the correct references?Thanks,James
Bourbon cannot contain any additives whatsoever, regardless of whether it is labeled as "straight." The use of coloring, flavoring, or blending materials in a whiskey other than a straight whiskey is only allowed if 'customarily employed therein in accordance with established trade usage.' Bourbon does not customarily include this usage, so it cannot have any additives (regardless of whether it is straight bourbon). The relevant regulation is 5.23(a)(2).
Additives are allowed for rye whiskey (not to exceed 2.5% of total volume) if it is not labeled as straight. In practice, the only rye that I know of which contains additives is Templeton Rye. Otherwise, I think you would be hard-pressed to find an American rye that contains additives. Theoretically, additives would be allowed for other types of American whiskeys (wheat, etc.) that are not labeled as straight, but I haven't seen this definitively stated by the TTB (as it has for rye), and the TTB isn't known for being consistent in the application of the rules.
The rules governing American whiskey are labyrinthine and in need of an overhaul in my opinion. Some relief might be on the horizon because the TTB recently opened up a period of public comment on suggestions for modifications to the rules. One likely outcome is the creation of an American Single Malt whiskey category and relief for foreign makers of single malt (Scotland is already excluded) from having to mature in new, charred oak barrels for sale in the US (if they want to use the term "malt whisky" on the label). The TTB hasn't been consistent in applying this rule - some Japanese and Indian single malts have entered the US market after aging in used barrels, but the TTB has given some small producers trouble. One that comes to mind is St. George Distillery in England, which had to develop separate whiskies aged in new, charred oak barrels for sale in the US. This makes no sense at all!
@Carlton Templeton Lie: that's why I buy only straight rye whiskey.
Templeton was probably the most deceptive of the so called "craft" bottlers. Of all the lawsuits that were filed in the last couple of years for false marketing claims, I believe Templeton was the only company that had to pay any damages. Not only that, but they settled the case, so they expected that they would lose.
tough topic!! First of all I hate the way they write the laws. I can hardly understand the sentences on the first read.I find § 5.23 (2) much more interesting to interprete.(2) There may be added to any class or type of distilled spirits, without changing the class or type thereof, (i) such harmless coloring, flavoring, or blending materials as are an essential component part of the particular class or type of distilled spirits to which added, and (ii) harmless coloring, flavoring, or blending materials such as caramel, straight malt or straight rye malt whiskies, fruit juices, sugar, infusion of oak chips when approved by the Administrator, or wine, which are not an essential component part of the particular distilled spirits to which added, but which are customarily employed therein in accordance with established trade usage, if such coloring, flavoring, or blending materials do not total more than 2 1/2 percent by volume of the finished product.essential component part of the particular class Artificial colouring is not an essential part of Bourbon. So far so good... "customarily employed therein in accordance with established trade usage"Is this law saying? We have always coloured our Bourbon with toasted oak casks therefore you have to continue doing so.I aggree with Carlton. This is law is not very well defined in these terms.
what I hear, the TTB is severely underfunded. It doesn't have adequate
resources to properly review the large number of labels that are submitted to
it from all of the new American craft whiskey producers.
Consequently, some labels that don't appear to conform with the laws make it
through the approval process and appear on the shelves. I would really like to
see an overhaul of the rules, but a uniform enforcement of the existing laws
would be a welcome change.
@Carlton Europe goes another way. They have their overly strict regulations and let the enforcement be done by competitors. They issue calls to order which cost a few hundred to a few thousands each. It is a very bad habit that everybody puts his finger on all competitors. Hate and envy are the result. Instead of conquering a market everybody concentrates on slowing down each other.
A good thing about the American whiskey industry is that most producers, especially the big ones, enjoy healthy competition but will step in to help each other if one of them encounters a problem or mishap. I don't know if this will continue as the old guard of master distillers passes away and retires: Elmer T. Lee is already gone; Parker Beam is terminally ill but still has some input at Heaven Hill; Jim Rutledge recently retired from Four Roses; Ken Pierce recently retired from Barton 1792; Jimmy Russell at Wild Turkey is still going strong, but he can't last forever. Hopefully their replacements will continue the spirit of competition and cooperation, but that remains to be seen.
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