APPLICABILITY OF STANDARDS OF FILL AND NEUTRAL SPIRITS LABELING
REQUIREMENTS TO FLAVORED DISTILLED SPIRITS WHICH ARE IDENTIFIED
IN 27 CFR 5.22 AS CLASS 9.
Bottlers and Importers of
Distilled Spirits and to
The purpose of this circular is to alert industry members to the apparent applicability of the standards of fill provisions of the distilled
spirits labeling regulations (27 CFR 5.47(a)) to "flavored brandy", "flavored gin", "flavored rum", "flavored vodka", and "flavored whisky" and
to the applicability of the regulations (27 CFR 5.39(a)), requiring the
disclosure of the presence of neutral spirits on labels for "flavored gin"
and "flavored vodka".
Following public hearing on April 1, 1968, the distilled spirits
labeling regulations were amended (by T.D. 6973) to provide standards of
identity for "flavored brandy", "flavored vodka", "flavored gin",
"flavored rum", and "flavored whisky". These standards became effective
July 1, 1969.
Prior to the adoption of these standards, these products were regarded as "cordials" or "liqueurs" (if they contained 2-1/2% or more by
weight of sugar) or as "specialties". In either case, these products were
not required to be packaged in containers conforming to standards of fill
prescribed by regulation since the standards of fill are not applicable to
cordials or liqueurs or specialties, (please see Section 5.49(b)). Similarly, since such products were "cordials" or "liqueurs" or "specialties",
they were not subject to the statutory requirement regarding disclosure of
the presence of neutral spirits.
However, with the promulgation of the new standards of identity
(Class 9), effective July 1, 1969, it would appear inappropriate to regard
these products as "cordials" or "liqueurs" (since they were not included
within the standard for "cordials" or "liqueurs"), and since these flavored
products are defined by standard, it appears they are no longer specialties.
Since these flavored products are not "cordials" or "liqueurs" by
definition, and as the standardization of these products appears to remove
them from classification as specialties, they appear to have lost their
status of being exempt from standards of fill and from the neutral spirits
label disclosure requirement.
These aspects of the matter were not considered at the April 1, 1968,
public hearing on the then proposed standards of identity for these products.
Recently, some segments of the industry have expressed considerable concern
over the application of standards of fill to these products in view of the
fact that they have been marketed in non-standard bottles for considerable
periods of time. On the other hand, other segments of the industry who are
marketing these products have supported the position that the standards of
fill should be made applicable.
Some industry members feel that an administrative disposition of this
matter is possible. They have been encouraged to file briefs supporting
their views. Some members feel action can be definitely postponed. However,
this course cannot be justified. If no sound administrative solution is
found, it would appear desirable to hold a public hearing to afford all
interested parties opportunity to be heard. If a hearing on this matter
should be held, it would appear that consideration might be given to the
1. Should these flavored distilled spirits products be
reclassified as types of cordials or liqueurs?
2. Should the regulations (27 CFR 5.48(b)) be amended
to specifically exclude these flavored products
from standards of fill making unnecessary any
changes in their classification?
3. Should the regulations (27 CFR 5.48(b)) be amended
to include additional sizes which are not deceptive
in relation to existing standards of fill, and delete the existing exception with regard to "cordials
and liqueurs, and cocktails and highballs, bitters
and such other specialties as are specified by the
Director" thus making all of these products subject to standards of fill? Such action would seem
to be consistent with the legislative intent in the
Federal Fair Packaging Act to discourage needless
proliferation of sizes.
4. Should the regulations remain as they are thus
making these flavored products subject to standards
of fill and (where applicable) to the label disclosure of neutral spirits contained therein?
Note: Citations to regulations herein are those of the
revised regulations reissued by T.D. 7020. For sake of
convenience, the new citations are related to the old
Industry members and others who wish to express their views on the
treatment of this problem, or on the need for holding a public hearing
on any one of these issues are free to do so. Their views would be welcomed to assist us in determining the course of action to be taken.
Bottlers and importers of "flavored brandy", "flavored gin",
"flavored rum", "flavored vodka", and "flavored whisky" and all others
who wish to express themselves in relation to any one of the issues set
forth above are invited to do so. Proponents of any one of these issues
should address their petitions to the Director, Alcohol, Tobacco and
Firearms Division, Internal Revenue Service, Washington, D. C. 20224
(Attention: CP:AT:B) as soon as possible but not later than March 31,
Pending resolution of this matter, the National Office will continue
issuing certificates of label approval covering labels for these products.
However, such actions shall not be construed as indicating the ultimate
disposition of the problem.
Harold A. Serr,
Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Division