Distilled Spirits Labeling: Alcohol Content
The alcohol content statement is a numerical statement on a distilled spirits label that indicates the alcohol content of the distilled spirits in terms of percentage of alcohol by volume. A statement of alcohol content is required to appear on all distilled spirits products.
Distilled spirits products that contain a significant amount of solid material, such as a “Liqueur” with whole cherries in the container (bottle), must state the alcohol content (determined at the time of bottling) as “Bottled at_____ percent alcohol by volume.”
In addition, a distilled spirits label may also state the alcohol content in degrees of proof if this information appears in the same field of vision with the statement expressed in percent alcohol by volume. When both forms of alcohol content are shown, the optional statement in degrees of proof must be placed in parentheses or in brackets, or otherwise distinguished from the mandatory statement in percent alcohol by volume.
In this example, the alcohol content is expressed as a specific percentage 20% Alcohol By Volume. In addition, the alcohol content in degrees of proof (40 Proof) may be stated on a label as long as it appears in the same field of vision as the mandatory statement of alcohol content as a percentage of alcohol by volume
Where should the alcohol content statement be placed on the product?
The alcohol content statement must appear in the same field of vision as the brand name, class, type, or other designation.
Same field of vision means a single side of a container (for a cylindrical container, a side is 40 percent of the circumference) where all of the pieces of information can be viewed simultaneously without the need to turn the container
What are the formatting requirements?
Specific percentages of alcohol content must be stated in terms of percentage of alcohol by volume. The following requirements also apply:
- Only “alc.” and “vol.” may be used to abbreviate the words “alcohol” and “volume”. They may be used with or without periods. The abbreviation “ABV” is not allowed.
- The words (or abbreviations) may appear in capital letters or lower case letters.
- The numerical alcohol content may precede or follow the term “alcohol” or “alc.”
Examples of alcohol content statements shown as specific percentages are:
- “ALCOHOL ___% BY VOLUME”
- “____% Alc. by Vol.”
- For containers with a capacity that is larger than 200 mL, the type size must be a minimum of 2 millimeters.
- For containers with a capacity of 200 mL or less, the type size must be a minimum of 1 millimeter.
- The statement must be readily legible under ordinary conditions;
- The statement must appear on a contrasting background; and
- The statement must appear separate and apart from, or be substantially more conspicuous than, descriptive or explanatory information.
Does the alcohol content stated on the label need to indicate the exact alcohol content of the product, or does TTB allow a tolerance?
A tolerance of plus or minus 0.3 percentage points is allowed for actual alcohol content that is above or below the alcohol content shown on the label.
Example: A distilled spirits product is labeled with the alcohol content statement of “36% ALC. BY VOL.” That labeling statement is acceptable if the actual alcohol content is no less than 35.7% alcohol by volume and no more than 36.3% alcohol by volume.
As of December 22, 2022: this document was updated for purposes of T.D. TTB-176, Modernization of the Labeling and Advertising Regulations for Distilled Spirits and Malt Beverages.
Page last reviewed: June 30, 2021
Page last updated: December 21, 2022
Maintained by: Alcohol Labeling and Formulation Division