Part Two of Four: The WHAT?
The TTB mandatory label information includes 15 different items as listed in the Beverage Alcohol Manual Table of Contents. In this four-part blog series I skim the surface of some of these, providing an overview of some of the things you will see on your liquor bottle label and what they could mean.
For the ‘What’ aspect of this series I’m touching on ‘Class and Type’, ‘Alcohol Content’,’ Net Contents’ and ‘Commodity Statement’. There are a few other topics that could be considered a ‘What’ such as ‘Presence of Coloring Materials’ however I feel these become more of the ‘How’ and will speak more about them later in my upcoming ‘How’ blog.
1. Class and Type Designation
This is the identity of the distilled spirit and must appear on the FRONT of the bottle.
The alcoholic beverage category of distilled spirits is divided into a number of general but defined classes, e.g. “Neutral Spirits or Alcohol” and “Gin”.
Below are a few selections I pulled from the TTB chart that categorizes and broadly defines classes and types. Not every option is shown,I’ve listed common and notable spirits. If you want to check out the full list, here is a link for the chart on the TTB website: CLASS AND TYPE DESIGNATION
* Within this class you also have many other versions of these types that include Straight, Distilled from Mash, Light and several Blended versions.
^ Rye, bourbon, rum, or brandy liquor produced using rock candy or sugar syrup.
** Flavored must be indicated on the label, however infused and flavored are not the same thing.
Some examples of required class and type statement are:
Would be on the label for a whisky produced in the US, not exceeding 80% ABV from fermented mash no less than 51% corn, stored at no more than 62.5% ABV in new charred oak barrels.
“STRAIGHT BOURBON WHISKY”
Would be on the label for a Bourbon whiskey stored in charred new oak barrels for 2 yrs. or more. It may include mixtures of two or more straight bourbon whiskies as long as they are made in the same state.
“WHISKY FROM BOURBON MASH”
Would be on the label for a whisky produced in the US, not exceeding 80% ABV from fermented mash no less than 51% corn, stored used charred oak barrels.
2. Alcohol Content
Alcohol content must be indicated on the FRONT of the label and stated in % alcohol by volume, i.e.
40% Alc. by Vol.
Alcohol proof can also be shown in addition to the required ABV statement but must appear on the front with the ABV statement:
40% Alc. by Vol. – 80 Proof
3. Net Contents
It is a requirement that you can see from the label or the bottle the net contents. Distilled spirits must be bottled, packed or filled in a metric standard of fill. This requirement must be shown on the label and/or blown into the glass of the bottle and must be stated as one of these amounts:
4. Commodity Statement
It is a requirement for the label to tell you the percentage of neutral spirits and what the neutral spirits were distilled from. For neutral spirits, vodka, grain spirits and gin produced by original distillation the percentage part is not required.
So - somewhere on your label (it’s not required to be on the front) you would see something like this:
“100% NEUTRAL SPIRITS DISTILLED FROM CORN” or
“100% GRAIN NEUTRAL SPIRITS”
OR if produced by original distillation:
“DISTILLED FROM RYE”
As you can see so far from Part One and Part Two you can really learn the story of your bottle, building a relationship with what you’re drinking by deciphering the details on the label! Stay tuned for Part Three ‘The How’.
Co-founder of Murray's Fools Distilling Co. | Altona, NY