Last week the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (“TTB”) published Ruling 2016-3, TTB’s most recent effort to reduce regulatory burdens on industry members. Breaking with past regulations, Ruling 2016-3 approves general-use formulas for proprietors of distilled spirits plants producing vodka, whisky, brandy or rum products that incorporate certain specified harmless coloring, flavoring or blending materials. The TTB’s Ruling should help reduce regulatory burdens by streamlining the formula review process and allowing industry members to get their products to market without having to wait for additional formula approvals. A full copy of the TTB’s Ruling 2016-3 can be found here.

Particularly, TTB will now approve general-use formulas for the following spirits produced in accordance with applicable TTB Standards of Identity:

  • Vodka containing no harmless, coloring, flavoring or blending materials other than sugar (no more than 2 grams per liter), citric acid (no more than 1 gram per liter) or both.
  • Rum containing no harmless coloring, flavoring or blending materials other than sugar, brown sugar, molasses or caramel, if the blending materials are no more than 2.5 percent by volume of the finish rum product.

TTB also now approves general-use formulas for certain types of whiskey that contain sugar, caramel, or wine—if the flavoring or blending materials are no more than 2.5 percent by volume of the finished product. However, TTB makes clear that no coloring, flavoring, or blending materials of any kind may be used in the production of spirits that are designated as “bourbon whiskey” or “straight” whisky.

Finally, TTB will approve general-use formulas for certain types of brandy that contain sugar, caramel, fruit juice of the same fruit from which the brandy is distilled, or wine fermented from juice of the same fruit from which the brandy is distilled. As for other spirits, the total quantity of flavoring or blending materials may not exceed 2.5 percent by volume of the finished product.

TTB Ruling 2016-3 is a welcome step toward accomplishing the TTB’s goal of increased regulatory relief for distilled spirit industry members. We will continue to monitor developments in this area and keep you up to date on any future regulatory changes impacting alcohol beverage industry members.