TTB Finalizes Portions of Modernization of Advertising and Labeling Regulations for Wine, Distilled Spirits, and Malt Beverages Rule
By Dan Logan and Dan Dwyer
On April 2, 2020, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) issued a final rule, Modernization of the Labeling and Advertising Regulations for Wine, Distilled Spirits, and Malt Beverages. 85 Fed. Reg. 18,704 (April 2, 2020) (Modernization Rule).
The Modernization Rule follows TTB’s proposed rule of
November 2018, 83 Fed. Reg. 60,562, which proposed organizational and
definitional changes intended to liberalize and clarify TTB’s regulations
pertaining to the labeling and advertising of beverage alcohol products. This 2020 rulemaking appears to be an
intermediate step, as TTB adopts some of the proposed changes, rejects others,
and explains that the remaining issues remain under consideration and will be
the subject of future rulemaking.
Accordingly, although this document is a final rule, it is likely that
in the future, TTB will issue a second final rule that addresses the remaining
proposals. The rule is largely comprised
of various unrelated regulatory updates; accordingly, we have highlighted some
of them below.
Changes Adopted (Effective May 4, 2020)
tolerance for the alcohol content of distilled spirits products has been
expanded to plus or minus 0.3 percentage points above or below the labeled
alcohol content. 27 CFR § 5.37(b).
labels for distilled spirits products may now bear the required information
(brand name, alcohol content, and class or type designation) in the same field
of vision, meaning that it may be placed anywhere as long all such information
can be viewed on a single side of a container. 27 CFR § 5.11.
distilled spirits products, except neutral spirits, may now bear statements of
age or maturity if such products are aged in oak barrels and subject to limited
treatment post-dumping. 27 CFR § 5.40(d).
is defined as “a single run through a pot still or…column of a column (reflux)
still” for the purpose of multiple-distillation claims. 27 CFR § 5.42(b)(6).
products are no longer prohibited from having a distinctive character, aroma,
taste, or color. 27 CFR § 5.22(a)(1).
standard for “agave spirits” is adopted, containing “tequila” and “mezcal.” 27
CFR § 5.22(g).
has codified a process for creation of personalized labels without resubmission
and approval by TTB. 27 CFR §§ 4.54, 5.57, 7.43.
for wine, distilled spirits, and malt beverages may bear the advertisers phone
number, website, or email address rather than city and State. 27 CFR §§ 4.62,
that is imported in containers of more than 5 liters not bearing a vintage date
may bear a vintage date provided the domestic bottler has substantiating
documentation. 27 CFR § 4.27.
beverage labels and advertisements are no longer prohibited from bearing strength
claims, such as “strong,” or “full strength.” 83 Fed. Reg. at 18,719.
Proposed Changes Rejected
has elected not to adopt the definition of “oak barrel” as a “cylindrical oak
drum of approximately 50 gallons…” 85 Fed. Reg. at 18,711.
changes will be made regarding statements of composition, specifically, the
proposals to require: (1) the listing of separate components of an
“intermediate” flavoring; (2) distilled spirits and wine used in a finished
product to be listed in order of predominance; and (3) a full statement of the
composition for cocktails. 85 Fed. Reg. 18,712.
will not adopt a proposed restriction on cross-commodity terms, including the
use of a name of a class or type designation from one commodity on the label of
a different commodity, such as a homophone or coined word simulating or
imitating a class or type designation. 83 Fed. Reg. at 18,709.
rejected was a proposed limitation requiring age statements to refer solely to
time a product is aged in the first barrel. Age statements may account for all
time spent in oak containers, including time spent in subsequent oak containers
after the first. 27 CFR § 5.40(d).
TTB will not adopt a proposal that whisky meeting the standard for a certain
type designation would be required to be labeled as such. 83 Fed. Reg. at
As noted above, many issues are still being considered by TTB and may be addressed in future rulemaking. These include a proposal to reorganize and recodify 27 CFR Parts 4, 5, and 7, and establish a separate Part 14 relating to advertising.