LABEL DISCLOSURE FOR
BRANDY TREATED WITH WOOD
(27 C.F.R. 5.39(c))
Distilled Spirits Plant Proprietors, Importers and Others
Purpose. The purpose of this circular is to advise
industry members of a forthcoming ATF ruling relating to
the labeling of brandy treated with wood (27 C.F.R.
5.39(c)). The ruling reads substantially as follows:
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) has
been asked whether brandy treated with wood, in forms
other than chips or slabs, at any time during the
production process, is subject to the requirements of 27
C.F.R. 5.39(c). The Bureau has also been asked whether
brandy produced with an ingredient treated with wood is
subject to the provisions of section 5.39(c), and whether
Cognac, in particular, treated with wood is subject to the
provisions of § 5.39(c).
Background. Section 5(e) of the Federal Alcohol
Administration Act (FAA Act), 27 U.S.C. 205(e), authorizes
the Bureau to issue regulations intended to prevent
deception of the consumer, and to provide the consumer
with adequate information as to the identity and quality
of the product.
Regulations which implement the provisions of
section 5(e), as they relate to distilled spirits, are set
forth in 27 C.F.R. Part 5. Section 5.39(c) requires label
disclosure for brandy (and whisky) treated with wood.
Specifically, section 5.39(c) reads as follows:
Treatment with wood. The words "colored and flavored
with wood ____________ (insert chips, slabs, etc., as
appropriate)" shall be stated as a part of the class
and type designation for whisky and brandy treated, in
whole or in part, with wood through percolation, or
otherwise, during distillation or storage, other than
through contact with the oak container.
Since section 5.39(c) is included as mandatory
information under section 5.32 (§ 5.32(b)(4)), the
statement "colored and flavored with wood ____________"
must comply with the requirements of section 5.33 as to
location, size of type, etc.
The first regulation requiring label disclosure for
distilled spirits treated with wood was issued in 1938 and
applied only to whisky. In 1941, the regulations were
amended to extend the disclosure requirement to brandy
treated with wood. According to the rulemaking record,
wood (oak) chips impart character (i.e., flavor, aroma,
etc.) to the product and, therefore, label disclosure was
considered necessary and warranted, to inform the consumer
that not all of the brandy's (whisky's) character was
derived from aging in the oak barrel.
Further, the record indicates that the regulation was
intended to apply to brandy or whisky treated with wood,
in any form, at any point in the production process, up to
and including the time of bottling.
Recently, it has come to the Bureau's attention that
confusion exists among some brandy producers, both
domestic and foreign, as to when the provisions of
§ 5.39(c) apply. Such producers are treating their brandy
with wood directly, through the use of wood in forms other
than chips or slabs, such as extracts, powders, infusions,
etc., and indirectly, by using an ingredient in the
production of the brandy which has been previously treated
with wood. For example, under section 5.23 wine may be
used, within prescribed limitations, in the production of
a brandy. The wine, however, may have been treated with
wood, either charred or uncharred. In any event, brandy
produced with wine which has been treated with wood must
comply with the requirements of section 5.39(c).
Confusion also exists among producers of Cognac who
believe the provisions of § 5.39(c) do not apply to
Cognac, since it is a distinct product of France. The
standard of identity for Cognac in section 5.22(d)(2)
provides that Cognac is "grape brandy distilled in the
Cognac region of France, which is entitled to be so
designated by the laws and regulations of the French
Government." Although Cognac has a specific standard of
identity from the more general standard for brandy, and is
produced in accordance with French law and regulations, it
is still subject to the mandatory labeling information
listed in section 5.32. In that regard, § 5.32(b)(4)
states that coloring or flavoring in accordance with
section 5.39 is mandatory label information. Thus, Cognac
which has been treated with wood, either directly or
indirectly, must be labeled with the disclosure statement
required by § 5.39(c).
Held, brandy treated with wood in any manner or form,
either directly or indirectly, at any point in the
production process, up to and including the time of
bottling, must comply with the requirements of
27 C.F.R. 5.39(c).
Held further, existing certificates of label approval
for brandies which do not meet the requirements of this
ruling will expire at midnight, December 31, 1987. Then
those particular certificates should be surrendered to the
Bureau for cancellation. Applications for certificates of
label approval received on or after September 1, 1987,
must meet the requirements herein discussed.
Inquiries. Inquiries concerning this circular should
refer to its number and be addressed to: Associate
Director (Compliance Operations), Bureau of Alcohol,
Tobacco and Firearms, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW,
Washington, DC 20226.