USA - TTB Publishes Final Rule Modernizing Labeling and Advertising Regulations for Alcoholic Beverages

  • On April 2, 2020, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) issued a final rule, which modernizes labeling and advertising regulations for wine, distilled spirits, and malt beverages.  The final rule is effective May 4, 2020.
  • The final rule gives companies flexibility on the placement of mandatory information on distilled spirits labels.  The final rule will allow information, like brand name, class and type of the distilled spirit, alcohol content, and net contents (for containers that do not meet a standard of fill) to appear anywhere on the label, as long as all mandatory information can be viewed simultaneously, without the need to turn the container.
  • The rule also amended regulations that govern specific distilled spirits, like Tequila and Vodka.  For example, the rule created, within the standards of identity, a class called “Agave Spirits,” and two types within that class: “Tequila” and “Mezcal.” Previously, regulations provided a standard for only “Tequila.”  TTB believes that the creation of the ‘‘Agave Spirits’’ class will provide more information to consumers and will allow industry flexibility when labeling products that are distilled from agave.  In regard to Vodka, TTB removed the requirement that vodka be without distinctive character, aroma, taste, or color.
  • TTB’s final rule also affects malt beverages, like beer.  Previously, TTB prohibited “strength claims” on beer labels and in beer advertisements; however, TTB will now authorize such labeling and advertising.  As such, the use of words like “strong,” “full strength,” and “extra strength” will now be allowed.  Per this final rule, TTB will also now allow “other truthful, accurate, and specific factual representations of alcohol content, such as alcohol by weight” to “appear on the label, as long as they appear together with, and as part of, the statement of alcohol content as a percentage of alcohol by volume.”  Thus, brewers will be able to use the same label in states that require alcohol content to be stated as a percentage of alcohol by weight, and in other states that neither require nor prohibit alcohol by weight statements.