Alcohol FAQs

General Questions

G5: How does TTB change its regulations?

See "How Laws and Regulations are Made" at Rulemaking Process.


G10: Do I need a permit to import beverage alcohol products for my own use, or to ship or bring my personal alcohol collection into the U.S. from overseas?

Please visit TTB's Personal Importation of Beverage Alcohol Products page for information on bringing alcohol into the U.S. for non-commercial purposes.


G3: Who can I contact when I have a complaint or suspect illegal activity by a bar, club, liquor store, restaurant or other business selling beverage alcohol products (spirits, wine or beer)?

With the exception of labeling, advertising and containers, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau does not enforce laws about selling or serving spirits, wine or beer to consumers. Usually, State governments regulate persons selling or serving spirits, wine or beer to consumers. This includes the minimum legal age that a person may sell or serve. Most States have commissions or agencies, which oversee persons and businesses that sell or serve beverage alcohol products. Contact the appropriate State agency for help in these areas. Also, visit the Department of Transportation website about restricting certain funds if a State allows the purchase or public possession of beverage alcohol products under the age of 21.

ACTIVITIES NOT RELATED TO BEVERAGE ALCOHOL PRODUCTS (spirits, wine or beer) - If you have information about illegal activities that do not involve beverage alcohol products (for example, drug sales or prostitution), report this information to the appropriate law enforcement agency. If you have information about illegal activities involving firearms, explosives, arson, or tobacco products, report this information to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

LABELING, ADVERTISING OR CONTAINERS OF BEVERAGE ALCOHOL PRODUCTS (spirits, wine or beer) - Report this information to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau online, at 202-453-225, or in writing to:

Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau
Alcohol Labeling and Formulation Division
1310 G Street, NW, Box 12
Washington, DC 20005

TRADE PRACTICES BETWEEN BUSINESSES SELLING OR PURCHASING BEVERAGE ALCOHOL PRODUCTS (spirits, wine or beer) - Report this information to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau at:

Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau
Trade Investigations Division
Market Compliance Office
1310 G Street, NW, Box 12
Washington, DC 20005
Phone: 202-453-2251 (extension 2)


G8: Can I make vinegar for personal use?

If you want to produce wine or malt vinegar for personal or family use and not for sale, the quantity may be included in the amount of wine or beer produced under the exemption in 27 CFR 24.75 or 27 CFR 25.205-207. Please note that only a qualified distilled spirits plant may distill. There are no personal exemptions for production of distilled spirits.


G13: Can I export alcohol beverages to Russia and Belarus?

The exportation of certain alcohol beverages to Russia or Belarus, or to Russian or Belarusian individuals on the Office of Foreign Assets Control’s (OFAC) list of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (SDN List), wherever located, is prohibited effective March 11, 2022. See the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security’s (BIS) Final Rule “Imposition of Sanctions on ‘Luxury Goods’ Destined for Russia and Belarus and for Russian and Belarusian Oligarchs and Malign Actors Under the Export Administration Regulations (EAR),” (March 16, 2022). You also may contact the BIS Office of National Security and Technology Transfer Controls (NSTTC) for additional information.


G1: Can I produce beer, wine or spirits for my personal or family use without paying Federal excise tax and filing Federal paperwork?

Beer

Production.

Removal of beer.

Wine

Wine for personal or family use.

Spirits

You cannot produce spirits for beverage purposes without paying taxes and without prior approval of paperwork to operate a distilled spirits plant. [See 26 U.S.C. 5601 & 5602 for some of the criminal penalties. You should also review our Home Distilling page.] There are numerous requirements that must be met that make it impractical to produce spirits for personal or beverage use. Some of these requirements are paying excise tax, filing an extensive application, filing a bond, providing adequate equipment to measure spirits, providing suitable tanks and pipelines, providing a separate building (other than a dwelling) and maintaining detailed records, and filing reports. All of these requirements are listed in 27 CFR Part 19.

Spirits may be produced for nonbeverage purposes for fuel use only without payment of tax, but you also must file an application, receive TTB's approval, and follow requirements, such as constructionuse, records and reports.


G6: Can a student make alcohol as part of a science fair project?

Well, under current law and regulations, we cannot allow you to conduct experiments involving distillation of alcohol at your home.

As an alternative, Federal law allows us to issue a permit for an alcohol fuel plant, or AFP. Under this type of permit, experiments with alcohol fuels can be conducted at locations properly qualified with TTB.

Here's what has to be done:

An authorized representative of your school (a teacher or other school official) must complete and forward an application form 5110.74 to us to establish a small AFP at your school.

The experiment must be conducted at your school under appropriate adult supervision.

The school official must tell us how long the experiment will last. They may allow for additional time in case your experiment is selected for additional competition or display at a regional or area science fair. And,

The school official must describe the adult supervision that will be provided. We require this because we are concerned about the safety of children handling hazardous materials and using distillation equipment with alcohol-even with adult supervision.

These steps apply primarily to students who are in elementary through high school. Make sure your application is filed as soon as possible to allow enough time for us to process it. You cannot begin the experiment until we issue you a permit.

Application form 5110.74 and additional information are available from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, National Revenue Center, Spirits Unit A, 550 Main Street, Room 8970, Cincinnati, OH 45202-3222, 1-877-882-3277, or submit an online inquiry.


G11: Can I import alcohol beverages (such as rum) made in Cuba into the United States?

The commercial importation into the United States of alcohol beverages made in Cuba is prohibited. Additionally, effective September 24, 2020, travelers returning to the United States may no longer bring back with them alcohol beverages of Cuban origin for personal use. You may contact the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the United States Department of the Treasury for additional information. See OFAC's Final Rule, "Cuban Assets Control Regulations" (September 24, 2020).


G4: Does TTB have information or studies about the effects of consuming alcohol?

The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau does not normally conduct studies or maintain information about alcohol consumption because we do not enforce laws or regulations relating to the effects from consuming alcohol. The Bureau has regulations about labeling and advertising and is committed to preventing consumer deception in beverage alcohol products.

There are several Federal web site addresses that may beneficial: https://www.whitehouse.govhttps://www.hhs.gov/https://www.samhsa.gov/https://www.justice.gov/;
https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/ , and https://www.nhtsa.gov/.

You can also contact the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 6000 Executive Blvd., Bethesda, MD 20892-7003 (301-443-3860).

Also, you may want to contact industry associations that represent beverage alcohol products industries. For example, from the Internet you should be able to reach the Wine Institute, the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, and the Beer Institute.


G9: Does TTB regulate butanols, such as isobutanol?

Isobutanol is a type of alcohol that may be produced from petroleum or by fermentation, and TTB requirements may apply depending on the circumstances. TTB's authority under the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) includes requirements relating to "distilled spirits." Under the IRC, this term includes ethyl alcohol in any form (e.g., beverage alcohol or fuel ethanol) except beer or wine. Although the term does not include isobutanol, TTB requirements apply if distilled spirits are produced or used in connection with isobutanol manufacturing. For example, if a manufacturer produces isobutanol by a fermentation process that also generates ethyl alcohol and the manufacturer separates the materials using distillation, the manufacturer may be required to qualify as a distilled spirits plant under 27 CFR part 19. For more information contact the Regulations and Rulings Division online.


G2: What are the federal and state excise taxes rates for spirits, wine and beer?

FEDERAL EXCISE TAX

View the federal tax rates for wine, beer, and distilled spirits.

STATE EXCISE TAX

For information on the state taxes imposed on wine, beer, and distilled spirits, please visit www.TaxAdmin.org, or contact the appropriate state tax or revenue agency.


G7: Are commercial vinegar producers regulated by TTB?

Yes. Many vinegar production methods include a stage where alcohol has developed but vinegar, with its distinctive sour taste, has not. TTB regulates commercial vinegar production when there is a potential Federal excise tax liability as beverage alcohol under 26 U.S.C. 5001, 5041, or 5051 at any stage of production, including on raw materials used to make the vinegar.

Finished vinegar is not subject to alcohol beverage excise tax for any one of the following reasons:

  • the manufacturing process makes it unsuitable for beverage use;
  • the manufacturing process does not involve the production of alcohol; or
  • none of the ingredients used to make the vinegar are subject to excise tax.

TTB does not regulate the following types of commercial vinegar production:

  • vinegar made by diluting acetic acid;
  • wine vinegar made from purchased wine that was made unfit for beverage use by the producing winery; or
  • rice or malt vinegar made from purchased rice wine or beer that was made unfit for beverage use by the producing brewery.

Generally, all other vinegar production methods are regulated by TTB.

The TTB requirements to produce various types of finished vinegar are discussed below. Our website contains links to the TTB regulations cited on this page.

Wine vinegar

The regulations covering wine and wine vinegar production are in 27 CFR part 24 – Wine.

If you make vinegar from fresh fruit or juice, (this type of vinegar is classified as nonbeverage wine) you must:

  • Qualify as a bonded wine cellar by filing an application and bond with TTB using Permits Online. See "Getting started in the Wine Industry" for more information. If you make only vinegar, you will not need the Federal Alcohol Administration Act wine producer's permit that is required for producers of beverage wine.
  • Obtain approval for your formula indicating how you plan to make nonbeverage wine /vinegar.
  • Keep records and file reports in accordance with 27 CFR part 24, subpart O. You will not be subject to excise tax if you make only finished vinegar according to your approved formula.

If you make vinegar from purchased beverage wine on which no tax has been paid, you must:

  • File a bond (TTB Form 5510.2) with TTB to cover the tax on wine on hand, in transit, and unaccounted for until it is made into vinegar.
  • Purchase the wine in bond from a bonded wine cellar or winery.
  • In accordance with 27 CFR 24.291, keep records of wine received, wine used in the manufacture of vinegar, vinegar produced, and vinegar removed, and allow examination of your premises by TTB officers.

If you make vinegar from beverage wine on which the excise taxes are paid, TTB cannot refund the tax to you. Your operations will not be regulated by TTB.

If you make vinegar from wine that was made unfit for beverage use by the producing wine cellar or winery (therefore has no tax liability), then your operations are not regulated by TTB.

Malt or rice vinegar

The regulations covering production of beer or rice wine (saké) are in 27 CFR part 25 – Beer. Nonbeverage products made from beer or rice wine at breweries under approved formulas will not be subject to the Federal excise tax on beer when they are removed for sale.

If you produce your own beer or rice wine in the making of vinegar, you must:

If you purchase beer or rice wine that was made unfit for beverage use by the producing brewery, you may make that beer or rice wine into vinegar and your operations will not be regulated by TTB.

By law, beer or rice wine that is fit for beverage use cannot be transferred from the brewery to a manufacturer without payment of tax. If you make vinegar from beverage beer or rice wine on which the excise taxes are paid, TTB cannot refund the tax to you. Your operations will not be regulated by TTB.

Vinegar produced by distilling or the vaporizing process

If you want to produce vinegar by the "vaporizing process" (a process that involves the distillation of alcohol), see our information on qualifying as a distilled spirits plant under 27 CFR Part 19. See 27 CFR part 19 subpart W for rules on production of vinegar by the vaporizing process.

Manufacturer of nonbeverage products (MNBP)

If you buy taxpaid distilled spirits for vinegar production, TTB has a system for allowing drawback of most of the distilled spirits tax. See 27 CFR part 17 and our frequently asked questions to learn about the formula approval and claim process.

Vinegar production using specially denatured alcohol (SDA)

"Specially denatured" alcohol is a distilled spirits product with certain materials added that make it unfit for beverage use, but suitable for industrial uses. These denatured alcohol products may be shipped free of tax to persons who hold TTB permits as industrial alcohol users. See 27 CFR part 20 and "Information for Specially Denatured Spirits Applicants" for the permit, formula approval, and recordkeeping requirements for SDA users. Use Permits Online to apply.

Three formulas of SDA are authorized as a raw material for vinegar production. In two of them (SDA formulas 29 and 35-A), the denaturant is ethyl acetate, and in the other (SDA formula 18), the denaturant is vinegar. See 27 CFR 21.4321.56, and 21.62 for the specific formulas. Commercial strength vinegar made from SDA may contain trace amounts of residual alcohol, not to exceed 0.5 percent alcohol by volume, in the finished product (27 CFR 20.104).

Labeling of vinegar

Check with the Food and Drug Administration for vinegar labeling rules.

Other requirements

Check with your State alcohol regulatory agency to see if they regulate vinegar production.

For more information

If you have further questions, you may contact:


G12: Can I import alcohol beverages of Russian Federation origin into the United States?

The importation of alcohol beverages of Russian Federation Origin into the United States is prohibited. On March 11, 2022, the President issued an Executive Order (EO) prohibiting the importation of alcohol beverages of Russian Federation origin. The EO is effective immediately. However, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued Russia-related General License (GL) 17 to authorize the import of certain items pursuant to pre-existing written contracts or written agreements through March 25, 2022 (see OFAC FAQ 1024 for additional information on GL 17 and OFAC FAQ 1027 defining the terms in the EO). See OFAC's Ukraine/Russia-related Sanctions for additional information, or you may contact OFAC.


Business Questions

BU3: Can a business get back the tax money from alcohol or tobacco if the product is destroyed in a disaster such as a fire, earthquake, flood, or tornado?

Under certain circumstances, the tax money may be refunded for alcohol and tobacco products. See TTB Information sheet I 1200.68 (11-2004). Go to claim form.

 


BU1: What must I do if I want to start a business that sells or imports beverage alcohol products (spirits, wine, and beer)?

While TTB does not regulate the licensing of persons who make retail sales of alcohol to consumers, retailers of alcohol beverages are required to file a registration form with TTB on TTB F 5630.5d and to maintain certain records. Retailers must file TTB F 5630.5d when beginning sales of alcohol, whenever there are changes to the previous registration, and when the retail alcohol business is discontinued.

Persons who wish to wholesale (buying alcohol for sale to another wholesaler or to a retailer) or import alcohol beverages must obtain a permit from TTB before starting operations. Visit our Permits Online homepage to learn more about applying for a wholesaler or importer permit. In addition, alcohol wholesalers and importers are required to submit a registration form on TTB F 5630.5d and keep records. Read more information on wholesaling and importing alcohol.

Each State also regulates businesses that sell alcohol beverages. Alcohol businesses must comply with all State and local requirements in addition to the TTB requirements. See the list of State alcohol regulatory agencies.

If you have additional questions, contact the National Revenue Center by phone at 1-877-882-3277 or online.

 


BU6: I am planning to file an application with TTB for a permit or other approval to operate (such as a brewer's notice). Can I file the application although I'm not quite ready to open for business?

You do not need to be ready to open your business at the time you file your application, but you must be able to provide all the information required for the application. Depending on the application type, required information may include a description of the premises and certain equipment you will use. Therefore, you should generally have construction complete and necessary equipment in place or on order. TTB publishes average application processing times to assist applicants in planning their operations, but the time necessary to process each application may vary.

 


BU4: I do not run a bar or liquor store, but sometimes I include alcohol beverages with my product or service. Do I owe Special Occupational Tax (SOT) as a liquor dealer?

No. There is no more Special Tax for periods beginning on or after July 1, 2005. However, if you failed to pay Special (Occupational) Tax for tax periods ending before or on June 30, 2005, you may be liable.

Retail liquor dealers must still keep records and register with TTB. Even though you do not run a bar or liquor store, we may consider you a retail liquor dealer if you conduct activities similar to the following examples:

  • Operate a limousine service and serve complimentary drinks to passengers,
  • Sell gift baskets that include wine, or
  • Run a bed-and-breakfast and serve complimentary drinks to guests in the afternoon.

If you make a separate charge for the alcohol beverage (or if you charge different prices for your product or service with and without the alcohol beverage) you are definitely a retail liquor dealer.

If you have any state or local license that authorizes your business to sell beverage alcohol products, you are a retail liquor dealer.

Even if you do not make a separate charge or have a State or local liquor license, if the complimentary alcohol beverage is always included in the product or service, or if you advertise that your product or service includes a complimentary alcohol beverage, you are a retail liquor dealer. If an alcohol beverage is presented as "complimentary" to clients who pay for a particular product or service, we consider the cost as built into the charge for the product or service. If you provide alcohol beverages to most of your customers, but a particular customer declines to accept the alcohol beverage or if certain customers may not be lawfully served, we will still consider you to be engaged in the business of selling or offering beverage alcohol products for sale.

A true complimentary or gift situation, where a business that serves alcohol beverages is not considered a retail liquor dealer, is likely to be a rare situation.

If you have questions about whether your business is a retail liquor dealer, contact the TTB National Revenue Center at 1-877-882-3277. We will consider the nature of the business, the manner of operation and the advertising of the business to determine if the intent is to "sell" alcohol beverages.

 


BU2: What is required to sell beverage alcohol products (spirits, wine, or beer) on the Internet?

The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) issued TTB Ruling 2000-1 concerning direct shipments and sales that includes sales transacted on the Internet. You are still subject to the same TTB requirements for selling spirits, wine, or beer. In addition, you also need to contact the appropriate State government agencies where you and your purchaser are located. Ask whether you need licenses or permits and who needs to pay any taxes and what other requirements may apply. See our Direct Shipping Web page for more information.

 


BU5: I want to open a business that sells beverage alcohol products at retail such as a bar, catering service or carryout, how do I get a license and will I owe any Federal Tax or Fees?

If you sell beverage alcohol as part of your business, you must register your business using TTB F 5630.5d. Beverage alcohol means distilled spirits, wine, beer, mixed drinks, and beer or wine coolers.

Note: If you operated such a business prior to July 1, 2005, and did not pay Special (Occupational) Tax you may still be liable. This tax applied to persons who sold on or off premises or who provided alcoholic beverages as part of the cost of an item or service. You may have owed this tax even when you did not make a profit or when you were exempt from income tax. We have a list of businesses that may have been subject to this tax.

The TTB does NOT issue a license to sell tobacco or beverage alcohol products at retail. You must contact your State or local licensing authority to obtain a retail license.

 


Advertising

AD2: What information is required on alcohol beverage advertising for wine products?

With few exceptions, the following information is required on advertisements of wine products (see 27 CFR 4.62):

  • Name, city, and State or the name and other contact information (such as, telephone number, website, or email address) where the responsible advertiser may be contacted;
  • Class, type or distinctive designation to which the product belongs, corresponding with the information shown on the approved label. For example:
    • Red wine, White wine, Sparkling wine; or
    • Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay; or
    • Champagne, Bordeaux; or
    • Red wine with natural flavors.
  • Consumer specialty items, which are typically items designed to be carried away by the consumer, including t-shirts, hats, bumper stickers, or refrigerator magnets, are only required to have the company name of the responsible advertiser, or brand name of the product.

Learn more about TTB’s advertising regulations for wine at 27 CFR part 4, Subpart G.

Last reviewed/updated 09/27/2023


AD7: How does TTB view the term “clean” when used on labels or advertisements?

TTB regulations do not define the word “clean,” and we do not have standards for the use of the term on labels or in advertisements. Thus, consumers should not interpret the term as meaning that the beverage is organic or has met other production standards set by TTB. Instead, we review both labels and advertisements in their totality to determine if they create a misleading impression.

In some cases, the term “clean” is simply being used as a descriptor of the taste of the beverage and is considered puffery. For example, “X winery makes a clean, crisp wine.”

In other cases, the term is used together with other language to create the misleading impression that consumption of the alcohol beverage will have health benefits, or that the health risks otherwise associated with alcohol consumption will be mitigated. For example, “X malt beverage is clean and healthy” or “Y vodka’s clean production methods mean no headaches for you.” We would consider those claims to be misleading health-related statements.

Last reviewed/updated 09/27/2023

 


AD5: Does TTB require pre-market review and approval of advertising material or retail cartons?

The TTB regulations do not require review and approval of alcohol beverage advertisements or retail cartons prior to broadcast, publication, or printing. TTB will review these items for compliance at the industry member's request at any time. While there is no requirement for preapproval of advertisements or cartons, asking TTB to pre‐clear them may avoid costs that might otherwise be associated with revising or withdrawing a noncompliant advertisement or carton after its broadcast, publication, or printing. To request pre-market review and clearance of these materials, submit images of the advertisement or carton to our office at market.compliance@ttb.gov. Please include the applicable Certificate of Label Approval ID number(s) for the associated product(s).

Last reviewed/updated 09/27/2023

 


AD3: What information is required on alcohol beverage advertising for distilled spirits products?

With few exceptions, the following information is required on advertisements of distilled spirits products (see 27 CFR 5.233):

  • Name, city, and State or the name and other contact information (such as, telephone number, website, or email address) where the responsible advertiser may be contacted;
  • Class and type to which the product belongs, corresponding with the information shown on the approved label. For example:
    • Whisky, Gin, Brandy; or
    • Vodka, Bourbon Whiskey, Cognac; or
    • Neutral spirits with natural flavor and caramel color;
  • Alcohol content shown as percent alcohol by volume (proof may be shown as additional information); and
  • Percentage of neutral spirits and name of commodity, as required for certain distilled spirits.
  • Consumer specialty items, which are typically items designed to be carried away by the consumer, including t-shirts, hats, bumper stickers, or refrigerator magnets, are only required to have the company name of the responsible advertiser, or brand name of the product.

Learn more about TTB's advertising regulations for distilled spirits at 27 CFR part 5, Subpart N.

Last reviewed/updated 09/27/2023

 


AD8: How does TTB view social media influencers in the context of alcohol beverage advertising?

TTB advertising regulations apply to advertisements published, disseminated, or caused to be published or disseminated by an industry member directly, indirectly, or through an affiliate. Accordingly, if an industry member causes a social media influencer (for example, by payment or other thing of value) to create content that advertises the industry member, its brand, or a specific product, TTB would consider such content as an advertisement under §§ 4.61, 5.232, and 7.232. Accordingly, such advertisements must contain all mandatory statements required by the regulations (in §§ 4.62, 5.233, and 7.233). Additionally, the regulations regarding prohibited practices or statements (in §§ 4.64, 5.235, and 7.235) also apply.

Although the regulations do not require that mandatory statements appear in a particular location, TTB strongly recommends that, for the benefit of consumers, advertisers consider placing mandatory statements either in the advertisement itself or in a location where a viewer would most logically expect to find information about the brand or the company. If space is restricted in a manner that makes it difficult to include the mandatory information on the advertisement, this requirement may be satisfied by providing a link to another webpage that contains all of the mandatory information. The link should be clearly named or marked as to indicate that the mandatory company and/or product information can be found by clicking on the link. In addition, the link should take the user directly to the mandatory information, and not to a more general website that would require additional actions to find the information.

For more information, see TTB Industry Circular 2022-2, Use of Social Media in the Advertising of Alcohol Beverages.

Last reviewed/updated 09/27/2023


AD1: What is considered advertising material?

"Advertisement" or “advertising” includes any written or verbal statement, illustration, or depiction, which is in, or calculated to induce sales in, interstate or foreign commerce, or is disseminated by mail. Examples include advertisements placed:

  • in newspapers, magazines, other periodical literature, or publications;
  • in trade booklets, menus, wine cards, leaflets, circulars, mailers, book or magazine inserts, catalogs, shelf talkers, sales pamphlets, or other promotional materials;
  • on the internet, other electronic sites, or in social networking services such as Facebook, media sharing sites such as YouTube and Instagram, weblogs or “blogs”, microblogs such as X, a.k.a. Twitter, mobile apps, links, and QR codes;
  • on any written, printed, graphic, or other matter (such as hang tags or bottle cones) accompanying, but not firmly affixed to, the container;
  • on shipping cases, product displays, or indoor signs;
  • on billboards, public transit cards, outdoor signs, or other outdoor displays;
  • on radio, video, or television broadcast; and
  • in any other media.

See TTB regulations at 27 CFR 4.61, 5.232, and 7.232 and TTB Industry Circular 2022-2, Use of Social Media in the Advertising of Alcohol Beverages.

Last reviewed/updated 09/27/2023

 


AD6: How do I report noncompliant advertising that I see in the marketplace?

If you have a complaint about an alcohol beverage advertisement that you believe is in violation of TTB regulations, you may send an email to market.compliance@ttb.gov or contact us by telephone at 202-453-2251 (option 4). We encourage you to include as much information as possible, including images of the advertising material. We will review the information and, if necessary, take appropriate action.

Last reviewed/updated 09/27/2023

 


AD4: What information is required on alcohol beverage advertising for malt beverage products?

With few exceptions, the following information is required on advertisements of malt beverage products (see 27 CFR 7.233):

  • Name, city, and State or the name and other contact information (such as, telephone number, website, or email address) where the responsible advertiser may be contacted; and
  • Class to which the product belongs, corresponding with the information shown on the approved label. For example:
    • Lager, Ale, Stout;
    • Raspberry Ale, Stout brewed with pumpkin and cinnamon.
  • Consumer specialty items, which are typically items designed to be carried away by the consumer, including t-shirts, hats, bumper stickers, or refrigerator magnets, are only required to have the company name of the responsible advertiser, or brand name of the product.

Learn more about TTB's advertising regulations for malt beverages at 27 CFR part 7, Subpart N.

Last reviewed/updated 09/27/2023

 


AD9: Are branded digital media items distributed by industry members subject to advertising regulations under the FAA?

The advertising provisions of the Federal Alcohol Administration Act (FAA Act), 27 U.S.C. 205(f), generally cover a regulated industry member’s publication or dissemination of any advertisement that is in, or is calculated to induce sales in, interstate or foreign commerce, or is disseminated by mail. The regulations apply to advertisements in any media, including the internet or any other electronic site or social network. See 27 CFR 4.61, 5.232, and 7.232. Thus, advertisements that include digital content are subject to the provisions of the FAA Act.

Branded digital media items (such as digital works of art or other images or written materials) that are published or disseminated through electronic media, including items associated with transfers of non-fungible tokens (NFTs), may be subject to TTB’s advertising regulations, assuming all of the elements of the statute are met. If the advertisements are electronic forms of consumer specialty items (a term that traditionally includes consumer items such as t-shirts and refrigerator magnets), the only mandatory information necessary is the company name of the responsible advertiser or the brand name of the product. See 27 CFR 4.62(c)(2), 5.233(e)(2), and 7.233(c)(2). These advertisements may not include statements or representations that violate the prohibited practices regulations for advertisements. See 27 CFR 4.64, 5.235, and 7.235.

Last reviewed/updated 06/10/2022


Alcohol Labeling and Formulation Division

A26: This question and answer have been temporarily removed from site pending internal review.

This question and answer have been temporarily removed from site pending internal review.

 


A32: Did TTB approve a general use formula for honey wine containing Rhamnus prinoides (“Ethiopian hops”) in TTB Ruling 2016-2?

No. In TTB Ruling 2016-2, TTB approved general-use formulas for certain standard agricultural wines made from honey or certain other agricultural products. Under 27 CFR 24.203(a)(2), honey wine may be produced with hops in quantities not to exceed one pound for each 1,000 pounds of honey. However, this provision applies only to Humulus lupus, which are the hops traditionally used to make alcohol beverages, including malt beverages, addressed in the laws and regulations administered by TTB. See FAQ A30-A31 above.

 


A2: I live in one state and wish to send alcohol to my father in another state. May I send this package through the mail or does the distributor have to send the package?

The U.S. Postal Service does not ship alcohol. Therefore, you will need to contact a private courier service such as FedEx or UPS to ship the alcohol. Also, contact the States to and from which you are shipping to find out if either has any laws or regulations prohibiting this practice.

 


A30: Can Rhamnus prinoides (“Ethiopian hops”) be used in alcohol beverages? Do requirements and guidance related to hops apply equally to “Ethiopian hops?”

Rhamnus prinoides, also known as “Ethiopian hops” or “Gesho,” are not the same hops traditionally used in alcohol beverages that are addressed in the laws and regulations administered by TTB. The scientific name of the hop plant traditionally used and commonly understood to be used in alcohol beverages covered under the laws administered by TTB is Humulus lupus.

Consequently, “Ethiopian hops” cannot be used interchangeably with traditional hops when making alcohol beverages, including malt beverages.

 


A28: I would like to use social media to inform consumers where to find my products or promote a special event at a restaurant or retailer. Are there any restrictions on this?

As we stated in TTB Industry Circular 2022-1, TTB considers advertising in social media to be subject to all of the same requirements and restrictions as any other type of advertising under the Federal Alcohol Administration Act (FAA Act) and the TTB implementing regulations (27 CFR part 4 subpart G27 CFR part 5 subpart N, and 27 CFR part 7 subpart N, and the “tied house” regulations at 27 CFR part 6).

The regulations in parts 4, 5 and 7 require certain mandatory statements (e.g., responsible advertiser name and address) to appear in advertisements for wines, distilled spirits, and malt beverages, respectively. The regulations also prohibit certain advertising practices and statements from appearing in such advertisements.

Under the tied house regulations in part 6, industry members may not induce a retailer, directly or indirectly, to purchase alcoholic beverages from the industry member to the exclusion of such products offered for sale by other persons.  We consider the listing of a retailer in an industry member’s advertisement, including a social media ad, to be providing a thing of value that constitutes a means to induce that retailer to purchase alcoholic beverages from that industry member. As such, listing a retailer in advertising, including social media advertising, may be a violation of the FAA Act if it results in exclusion as described in 27 CFR 6.151 through 6.153, subject to the jurisdictional limits at 27 CFR 6.4. 

An exception in 27 CFR 6.98 provides that listing the names and addresses of two or more unaffiliated retailers selling the products of an industry member does not constitute a means to induce. The requirements of the exception are that:

  1. The advertisement does not also contain the retail price of the product (except where the exclusive retailer in the jurisdiction is a State or a political subdivision of a State), and
  2. The listing is the only reference to the retailers in the advertisement and is relatively inconspicuous in relation to the advertisement as a whole, and
  3. The advertisement does not refer only to one retailer or only to retail establishments controlled directly or indirectly by the same retailer, except where the retailer is an agency of a State or a political subdivision of a State.

State laws also apply, and they vary from state to state. We encourage industry members to contact the applicable state alcohol beverage authorities with any questions related to state law. Please see our website for a list of State Alcohol Beverage Authorities.

 


A10: We removed this FAQ because it was out-of-date.

None

 


A31: Has the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recognized as safe the use of Rhamnus prinoides (“Ethiopian hops”) in alcohol beverages? Will TTB approve an application for a formula approval for an alcohol beverage that contains “Ethiopian hops?”

FDA has not evaluated the safety of Rhamnus prinoides (“Ethiopian hops”) for use in alcohol beverages, has not issued a regulation authorizing the use of “Ethiopian hops” in alcohol beverages, and is not aware of a GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) conclusion for the use of “Ethiopian hops” in alcohol beverages.

Consequently, TTB will not approve an application for formula approval for an alcohol beverage that contains “Ethiopian hops.”


A29: Will TTB approve any formulas or labels for alcohol beverage products that contain a controlled substance under Federal law, including marijuana?

TTB will not approve any formulas or labels for alcohol beverage products that contain a controlled substance under Federal law, including marijuana. The Controlled Substances Act (CSA), 21 U.S.C. § 802(16), defines marijuana as all parts of the Cannabis sativa L. plant (and its derivatives) with certain specific exclusions. Substances (such as tetrahydrocannabinols (THC), cannabidiols (CBD), or terpenes) that are derived from any part of the cannabis plant that is not excluded from the CSA definition of marijuana are controlled substances, regardless of whether such substances are lawful under State law. See Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Clarification of the New Drug Code (7350) for Marijuana Extract for more information about DEA's position on cannabis derivatives. The parts of the cannabis plant that are excluded from the definition of marijuana in the CSA (referred to here as "hemp" ingredients) include hemp seed oil, sterilized hemp seeds, and non-resinous, mature hemp stalks.

Formula approval from TTB is required before a hemp ingredient may be used in the production of an alcohol beverage product. In determining whether a hemp ingredient is allowable for use in an alcohol beverage, TTB will consult with the DEA where appropriate and defers to the DEA in its interpretation of the CSA.

TTB also consults with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on ingredient safety issues where appropriate. In some cases, TTB may require formula applicants to obtain documentation from FDA indicating that the proposed use of an ingredient in an alcohol beverage would not violate the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. For more information, see TTB Industry Circular 2019-1, Hemp Ingredients in Alcohol Beverage Formulas.

For alcohol beverage products containing a hemp ingredient, the product label must accurately and specifically identify the ingredient in a manner that makes it clear that the ingredient is not a controlled substance (e.g., "hemp seed oil" rather than "hemp oil"). Additionally, labeling statements for alcohol beverage products may not create the misleading impression that the product contains a controlled substance or has effects similar to those of a controlled substance.

For more information, including requirements for lab analysis of hemp components, please refer to the "Hemp Policy" published by our predecessor agency in 2000.

TTB notes that section 7606 of the Agricultural Act of 2014, commonly referred to as the Farm Bill, defines "industrial hemp." See 7 U.S.C. 5940.  Subject to certain restrictions, this law allows an institution of higher education or a State department of agriculture to grow or cultivate industrial hemp for purposes of research where allowed under State law. As explained by the Statement of Principles on Industrial Hemp which was issued by USDA, in consultation with DEA and FDA, and published in the Federal Register on August 12, 2016, section 7606 does not authorize the sale of industrial hemp "for the purpose of general commercial activity." Accordingly, it is TTB's understanding that the Farm Bill does not authorize the use of industrial hemp in the production of alcohol beverage products for sale beyond limited State-sanctioned pilot projects by authorized entities.

 

 


Organic Alcohol

OA 12: If the vintage date changes on my approved organic label, do I need to submit a new application?

No, the vintage date may change on an organic label without obtaining a new Certificate of Label Approval.

 


OA 5: My imported wine has organic documentation from the European Union/European Commission; will this documentation be sufficient to support my organic claim?

The United States has an organic equivalence arrangement with the European Union (EU). Under the terms of this arrangement, wine imported from the EU with organic labeling must comply with the labeling requirements of the USDA organic regulations.

For wine labeled “organic,” an EU control body must verify that prohibited substances, such as sulfur dioxide or potassium metabisulphite, were not added to the wine. For wine labeled “made from organic grapes,” an EU control body must ensure that no prohibited substances are used, except there is an allowance for the use of sulfur dioxide. The EU control body must verify that the total sulfite concentration from sulfur dioxide does not exceed 100 parts per million. Nonagricultural substances not listed under 7 CFR 205.605 are prohibited in wine labeled “organic” or “made with organic grapes.”

The certifier/ACA preview must be submitted to TTB; this indicates that the EU control body has verified compliance with these terms of the EU-U.S. organic equivalence arrangement.

Organic certificate(s) submitted to TTB (if required- see Question 4) must be in English or have complete translation(s) attached.

 


OA 10: What is a "Certification Statement," and where must it go on a label?

The statement, "Certified Organic by---" or a similar phrase followed by the name of the certifier/ACA must appear below the bottler or importer's name and address statement. The organic certification statement must appear under the importer's name and address on imported products if the foreign producer/bottler's information is not present. We will accept the certification statement beneath either the importer or the foreign producer/bottler's information when present on imported labels. The business address, Internet address, or telephone number of the certifying agent may be included on the label. Certifier/ACA acronyms are acceptable in certification statements; however, logos or seals alone do not fulfill this requirement.

 


OA 3: What type of Organic Claims Exist?

The four labeling categories of the USDA organic regulations are as follows (with information pertinent to alcohol beverages):

  • "100% Organic" contains only organic ingredients and processing aids with no chemically added sulfites.
  • "Organic" contains at least 95% organic ingredients with no chemically added sulfites.
  • "Made with Organic [Ingredients]" contains at least 70% organic ingredients and may contain up to 100 ppm of sulfites from sulfur dioxide.
  • Products containing less than 70% organic ingredients and products that are not processed by a certified organic handling operation may only identify each organically produced ingredient in an ingredient statement.

The complete USDA organic composition and labeling requirements are fully described in 7 CFR Subpart D—Labels, Labeling and Market Information.

 


OA 8: What documents must be provided if I want to state, "Made with Organically Grown [Ingredients]?"

To use "Made with Organically Grown [Ingredients]" on a label, you must submit a certifier/ACA preview.

 


OA 13: What are some common mistakes made when submitting organic labels?

The lack of supporting documentation for organic claims creates the greatest delay in label processing. In a majority of situations, the certifier/ACA preview will satisfy the requirement. A second common mistake occurs when submitters do not closely check the supporting documents to ensure that information listed on the product corresponds to the associated paperwork. Expired documentation, documents citing the incorrect product, and date conflicts represent common reasons why applications are returned.

 


OA 1: How do the USDA organic regulations apply to alcohol beverages?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) organic regulations create standards for the production, handling, processing, labeling, and marketing of all organically produced agricultural products. The regulations also create four labeling categories and identify specific substances that cannot be used in the production of organically made products. To obtain more information about the National Organic Program and to view a full text of the regulations, please visit the National Organic Program Web site at https://www.ams.usda.gov/nop.

 


OA 6: What is a certifier/ACA Preview?

Certifiers/ACAs are private, State, and foreign entities accredited by the USDA for certifying foreign and domestic organic crop, livestock, and handling operations to USDA organic standards. All labeling applicants that are certified organic handlers and intend to make an organic claim (other than in an ingredient statement) on an alcohol beverage must submit the label(s) to their certifier/ACA for review and approval prior to submission to TTB. The certifier/ACA Preview is a document that must show actual images of the exact labels along with a stamp or signature of the certifier/ACA to verify that the product label complies with the USDA organic regulations. The National Organic Program maintains a list of Accredited Certifying Agents on its Web site at: https://www.ams.usda.gov/services/organic-certification/certifying-agents.

 


OA 11: I have an organic crop certificate, but the producer is not a certified organic handler. What type of organic claim can be made on the label?

The only organic claim that can be made on the label is in an ingredient statement to indicate which ingredients are organic. If the organically produced ingredients are identified in the ingredient statement, the product's percentage of organic contents may be displayed on the information panel (7 CFR § 205.305). Acceptable variations include "X% Organic" or "X% Organic ingredients."

 


OA 4: When I submit a label application for a label with an organic reference, what additional documentation must I submit?

The information required depends on the circumstances. A majority of claims will require you to submit the Certifier/Accredited Certifying Agent (ACA) Preview.

  • A.  For "100% organic" "organic" and "made with organic [ingredients]:

Certifier/ACA Preview – indicates that an Accredited Certifying Agent (ACA) has reviewed the applicant's label, reconciled it with the applicant's certification, and found the label to be in compliance with USDA organic regulations. The certifier/ACA Preview will show actual images of the labels along with a stamp or signature of the ACA.

  • B.  For organic Ingredient statements:

Producer's/Crop Organic Certificate - certifies that the grapes, fruit, or other agricultural produce used in the product comply with the USDA organic regulations. A list of different grapes, fruits, crops, and the year of harvest may appear on the actual certificate or on an attached addendum.

 


OA 9: What else must I know if I want to state, "Made with Organically Grown Grapes?"

  • The USDA organic seal, or foreign equivalent, is not allowed.
  • Use of non-organic grapes is not permitted.
  • Sulfur dioxide is the only sulfiting agent allowed; total sulfite concentration must not exceed 100 ppm. Sulfite disclosure is required on the label.
  • The disclosure of organic ingredients on the label must be in the form of a phrase such as "Made with Organic [specify your organic ingredients here].” Examples are: "Made with Organically Grown Grapes," "Made with Organic Grapes," "Made with Organic Grapes from Our Vineyard," or "Made with Organically Produced Grapes."
  • A Certification Statement “Certified Organic by---” or a similar phrase must appear below the bottler or importer's name and address statement.

 


OA 14: Aside from terms using the word "Organic," am I permitted to label my product with a specialized farming term to show my compliance with or concern for environmental initiatives and movements?

A description of specialized farming practices generally may appear on alcohol beverage labels as additional information provided it is truthful, accurate, specific, and does not conflict with, or in any manner qualify, mandatory labeling information. However, due to the constantly evolving nature of this field, TTB reserves the right to request clarification and documented verification of any graphics, seals, logos, definitions, or language appearing on labels. For instance, any label specifically stating that the producer is certified by an agricultural organization must have documented proof.

Terms that refer to the environmental impact of the process and packaging rather than the product itself are usually acceptable. These words and phrases may not modify mandatory information on brand labels, but might appear as additional information after review on a case-by-case basis.

 


OA 2: What is an Organic Claim?

If a bottler or importer uses the word "Organic" in any fashion likely to be perceived as claiming that a product or anything associated with it is organically produced, contains organic ingredients, or was processed in an organic manner or facility, TTB will consider this an organic claim and apply the requirements of the USDA organic regulations at 7 CFR part 205.

 


OA 7: Where do I obtain the certifier/ACA Preview for organic imported products?

The producers/handlers of alcohol products that will be imported into the United States are responsible for supplying copies of the required documents to the importer. The importer should request the documents from the handler or the producer's wholesale distributer for submission with your Certificate of Label Approval application.

 


Flavored Malt Beverages

FMB1: How does TTB TD-21 impact the composition of flavored malt beverages?

The new regulation permits the addition of flavors and other nonbeverage materials containing alcohol to beers and malt beverages. Malt beverages that contain not more than 6% alcohol by volume may derive no more than 49% of their alcohol content from flavors and other nonbeverage materials. If a malt beverage contains more than 6% alcohol by volume, not more than 1.5% of the volume of the finished product may consist of alcohol derived from flavors and other nonbeverage ingredients containing alcohol.


FMB31 : Should the superseding formula use the same formula number as the formula it replaces?

Yes, but you must annotate the formula number to indicate that it is a superseding formula number (For example, "Formula 2, superseding.")

 


FMB4 : Does the final rule apply to imported as well as domestic malt beverages?

Yes.


FMB36 : How long does my formula approval remain valid?

As a general rule, your approved formula remains in effect until:

  • you supsersede it with a new formula;
  • you voluntarily surrender the formula;
  • TTB cancels or revokes the formula; or
  • the formula is revoked by operation of law or regulation.

 


FMB9 : The only change that my brewery must make to the label is to add the required alcohol content statement. Are we required to file a new application for label approval, or should we simply add the alcohol content statement to the label?

Your company may add an alcohol content statement to the label without applying for a new certificate of label approval.

 


FMB14 : What brewing processes will trigger the formula requirement?

Formulas will be required whenever the brewer intends to produce a fermented product that will be treated by any processing, filtration, or other method of manufacture that is not generally recognized as a traditional process in the production of a fermented beverage designated as "beer," "ale," "porter," "stout," "lager," or "malt liquor."

 


FMB19 : For what fermented products other than those produced through nontraditional processes must a formula be filed?

In general, formulas must be filed for:

  • Any fermented product to which flavors or other nonbeverage ingredients (other than hop extract) containing alcohol will be added;
  • Any fermented product to which coloring or natural or artificial flavors will be added;
  • Any fermented product to which fruit, fruit juice, fruit concentrate, herbs, spices, honey, maple syrup, or other food materials will be added; and
  • Saké, including flavored saké and sparkling saké.

 


FMB24 : What information must appear on each formula?

The following information must appear on each formula:

  • You must list each separate ingredient and the specific quantity used, or a range of quantities used.
  • You may include optional ingredients if they do not impact the labeling or identity of the finished product.
  • For fermented products containing flavorings, the following additional information must appear:

The name of the flavor;

  • The product number or TTB drawback number and approval date of the flavor;
  • The name and location (city and State) of the flavor manufacturer;
  • The alcohol content of the flavor; and
  • The point of production at which the flavor was added (that is, before, during or after fermentation).

For formulas that include the use of flavors and other nonbeverage ingredients containing alcohol, you must explicitly indicate:

  • The volume and alcohol content of the beer base;
  • The maximum volumes of the flavors and other nonbeverage ingredients containing alcohol to be used;
  • The alcoholic strength of the flavors and other nonbeverage ingredients containing alcohol;
  • The overall alcohol contribution to the finished product provided by the addition of any flavors or other nonbeverage ingredients containing alcohol; and
  • The final volume and alcohol content of the finished product.

 


FMB29 : When may I file a superseding formula instead of a new formula?

You may file a superseding formula instead of a new formula if you change ingredients or processes and these changes would not require a new certificate of label approval. A superseding formula replaces an existing formula, and should be filed only if you do not intend to use the existing formula any more. A superseding formula must be filed with TTB for approval.

 


FMB2 : When do these new standards go into effect?

The final rule takes effect on January 3, 2006.


FMB34 : When must a formula be filed?

As a general rule, you may not produce a fermented product for which a formula is required until you have filed and received approval of a formula for that product.

 


FMB7 : My brewery produces a malt beverage made with a hop extract that adds a very minimal amount of alcohol to the product. Do we have to label this malt beverage with an alcohol content statement?

As long as the malt beverage does not derive alcohol from any other added flavor or other added nonbeverage ingredient, it does not have to be labeled with an alcohol content statement.


FMB12 : Does the final rule allow the use of cocktail names on FMB labels?

The final rule permits the use of a cocktail name as the brand name or fanciful name of a malt beverage, provided that the overall label or advertisement does not present a misleading impression about the identity of the product.

 


FMB17 : What should I do if I'm not sure whether the process used by my brewery requires the filing of a formula?

The appropriate TTB officer may determine whether or not use of a process not listed in 27 CFR § 25.55(a)(1) requires you to file a formula for approval. You may obtain such a determination from TTB by mailing a written request to the Assistant Director, Alcohol Labeling and Formulation Division, Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, 1310 G Street, NW., Box 12 Washington, DC 20005.

 


FMB22 : What are the general requirements for filing a formula?

The requirements are as follows:

  • The formula must be filed in writing;
  • The formula must identify each brewery where the formula applies by including each brewery name, address, and registry number;
  • You must serially number each formula, commencing with number "1" and continuing in numerical sequence;
  • You must date and sign each formula; and
  • You must file two copies of each formula with TTB.

 


FMB27 : If my formula includes flavors containing alcohol, am I required to list the alcohol contribution of individual flavors and other nonbeverage ingredients containing alcohol?

No. However, you must state the total alcohol contribution from these ingredients to the finished product.

 

 


FMB32 : Must separate formulas be filed for different products that require a formula?

Yes.

 


FMB5 : The rule requires mandatory alcohol content labeling for flavored malt beverages. My brewery produces a fruit-flavored ale that derives 0.4% of its alcohol content from an added flavor. Do we need to label this ale with an alcohol content statement?

Yes. The final rule requires an alcohol content statement on the label of any malt beverage that contains any alcohol derived from added flavors or other added nonbeverage ingredients (other than hop extract) containing alcohol.

 


FMB37 : Will statements of process that were approved prior to the effective date of TTB TD-21 remain valid on and after January 3, 2006?

Yes, provided that any finished product that could be made under the statement of process would be in compliance with the provisions 27 CFR part 25, as amended by TTB TD-21. You do not need to submit a new formula for approval if the product is covered by a statement of process that remains valid.

 


FMB10 : What new labeling and advertising provisions have been added to the regulations?

Consistent with ATF Ruling 2002-2, the final rule prohibits the use of labeling or advertising statements, designs, devices, or representations that tend to create a false or misleading impression that a malt beverage contains distilled spirits or is a distilled spirits product.

 


FMB15 : What are examples of non-traditional processes that require the filing of a formula?

Removal of any volume of water from beer; filtration of beer to substantially change the color, flavor, or character; separation of beer into different components; reverse osmosis; concentration of beer; and ion exchange treatments are examples of non-traditional processes for which brewers must file a formula.

 


FMB20 : Can I file for an exemption from the formula requirement for use of a particular coloring, flavoring, or food material?

Yes. TTB will grant such an exemption upon a finding that the coloring, flavoring, or food material in question is generally recognized as a traditional ingredient in the production of a fermented beverage designated as "beer," "ale," "porter," "stout," "lager," or "malt liquor."

 


FMB25 : If I received approval for a beer base formula, should that information be included in the formula?

Yes. You must refer in your formula to any approved formula number that covers the production of a beer base used in producing the formula product. If the beer base was produced by another brewery of the same ownership, you must also provide the name and address or name and registry number of that brewery.


FMB30 : How does a superseding formula affect the prior formula?

When TTB approves a superseding formula, we will cancel your previous formula.


FMB3 : My brewery produces a flavored malt beverage that derives over 90% of its alcohol content from added nonbeverage flavors, and only 10% of its alcohol content from fermentation at the brewery. What can we do if we want to continue to make this product on and after January 3, 2006?

On and after January 3, 2006, a product that does not comply with the requirements of TTB TD-21 may not be produced at a brewery, bottled at a brewery, removed from a brewery with or without payment of tax, removed from customs custody for consumption, or (in the case of products not destined for exportation), transferred to a second customs bonded warehouse.

 


FMB35 : Is there an exception to the rule regarding prior approval of formulas?

You may, for research and development purposes (including consumer taste testing), produce a fermented product without an approved formula. However, if the product falls into the category of fermented products for which a formula is required, you may not sell or market the product until you receive approval of the formula.

 


FMB8 : If I ship my beer to another state, and that state has different labeling requirements, am I required to comply with those labeling requirements?

You are required to comply with the labeling laws of any state in which [or "where"] you sell your malt beverages. The labeling requirements of Title 27 Part 7 of our regulations apply only to the extent that State law imposes similar requirements on malt beverages sold within the State.

 


FMB13 : How have the statement of process requirements changed?

Current regulations require brewers to file a statement of process whenever they propose to produce and market a fermented beverage under a name other than "beer," "ale," "porter," "stout," "lager," or "malt liquor." Under the new regulations, brewers will be required to file formulas (instead of statements of process) under the circumstances set forth in the regulations.

 


FMB18 : What information should be included in a request for a determination as to whether use of a process requires the filing of a formula?

The request must include:

  • A detailed description of the proposed process;
  • Evidence establishing that the proposed process is generally recognized as a traditional process in the production of a fermented beverage designated as "beer," "ale," "porter," "stout," "lager," or "malt liquor"; and
  • An explanation of the effect of the proposed process on the production of the fermented product.

 


FMB23 : Where do I file a formula?

Your formula should be filed with the Assistant Director, Alcohol Labeling and Formulation Division, Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, 1310 G Street, NW., Box 12 Washington, DC 20005.

 


FMB28 : When must I file a new formula (with a new formula number) for approval by TTB?

A new formula must be filed when you –

  • Create an entirely new fermented product that requires a formula;
  • Add new ingredients to an existing formulation;
  • Delete ingredients from an existing formulation;
  • Change the quantity of an ingredient used from the quantity or range of usage in an approved formula;
  • Change an approved processing, filtration, or other special method of manufacture that requires the filing of a formula; or
  • Change the contribution of alcohol from flavors or ingredients that contain alcohol.

 


FMB33 : May I file a formula for a beer base to be used in the production of one or more other fermented products?

Yes. The base must conform to the standards set forth in 27 CFR § 25.15.

 


FMB6 : May I place the mandatory alcohol content statement on the back label?

No. The mandatory alcohol content statement must appear on the brand label.

 


FMB11 : My brewery's flavored malt beverage is labeled with a brand name that is also the brand name of a well-known distilled spirits product. Does TTB TD-21 allow this labeling practice?

The final rule provides that the use of a brand name of a distilled spirits product as the brand name of a malt beverage is not prohibited, provided that the overall label or advertisement does not present a misleading impression about the identity of the product.

 


FMB16 : What are examples of traditional processes for which no formula is required?

Pasteurization; filtration prior to bottling; filtration in lieu of pasteurization; centrifuging for clarity; lagering; carbonation; and blending are examples of traditional processes for which brewers do not have to file a formula.

 


FMB21 : How do I file for such an exemption?

Your request should be sent to the Assistant Director, Alcohol Labeling and Formulation Division, Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, 1310 G Street, NW., Box 12 Washington, DC 20005, and must include the following information:

  • A description of the proposed ingredient;
  • Evidence establishing that the proposed ingredient is generally recognized as a traditional ingredient in the production of a fermented beverage designated as "beer," "ale," "porter," "stout," "lager," or "malt liquor"; and
  • An explanation of the effect of the proposed ingredient in the production of a fermented product

 


FMB26 : What other requirements apply to all formulas?

The formula must also include a detailed description of each process used to produce the fermented beverage. The formula must state the alcohol content of the fermented product after fermentation and the alcohol content of the finished product. Finally, the appropriate TTB officer may at any time require you to file additional information regarding a fermented product, ingredients, or processes, in order to determine whether a formula should be approved or disapproved or whether the approval of a formula should be continued.

 


Kombucha

K21. For kombucha beverages that contain 0.5% or more alcohol by volume, what responsibilities do distributors and retailers have?

Retail and wholesale dealers of kombucha with 0.5% or more alcohol by volume must register with TTB as dealers in alcohol beverages, using form TTB F 5630.5d. Retail and wholesale dealers must meet the requirements outlined under TTB regulations at 27 CFR part 31.

In addition, wholesalers and importers must obtain a permit if the kombucha is subject to the FAA Act.  (See K13.)  Dealers also should contact state and local alcohol regulatory authorities to learn about state and local requirements.

Last reviewed/updated: 09/17/2015


K20. Which TTB office should I contact if I have questions about appropriate methods of testing to determine the alcohol level in my kombucha?

You may contact the Beverage Alcohol Lab of TTB’s Scientific Services Division.

Last reviewed/updated: 09/17/2015


K19. May I use other scientifically valid methods to test the alcohol content of my kombucha beverages?

Yes.  To ensure the reliability of results, producers may use any method that has been formally validated (e.g., that underwent a multi-laboratory performance evaluation) or that is otherwise scientifically valid for purposes of determining the alcohol content of kombucha beverages, including kombucha beverages that contain less than 0.5 percent alcohol by volume. 

A scientifically valid method is, among other things, accurate, precise, and specific for its intended purpose, and produces results that are consistently reliable, accurate, and reproducible.  

TTB is aware of the following scientifically valid methods that can be used to measure low levels of alcohol in kombucha:

  • Headspace GC-FID (AOAC reference 2016.12);
  • Headspace Solid Phase Micro Extractions (SPME) GC-MS (AOAC reference 2019.4);
  • Distillation-specific gravity method (AOAC reference 935.21), using a densitometer instead of a pycnometer; and
  • Two enzymatic methods (AOAC references 2017.07 and 2019.08).

Last reviewed/updated: 08/3/2022


K18. What testing method is currently in use at the TTB laboratories?

When TTB tests samples of kombucha products from the marketplace to measure the amount of alcohol in the product, it generally uses the headspace gas chromatography-flame ionization detection (headspace GC-FID) method (AOAC reference 2016.12) or the enzymatic method (AOAC reference 2017.07). In the past, TTB also has used the distillation-specific gravity method (AOAC reference 935.21), using a densitometer instead of a pycnometer, which is another scientifically valid method for this purpose.

For information regarding other scientifically valid methods that may be used to test the alcohol content of kombucha beverages, see FAQ K19 below.

Last reviewed/updated: 08/3/2022


K17. Are producers of kombucha beverages required to test the alcohol content of their products?

Brewers qualified by TTB under the IRC are required to maintain records of the alcohol content of their products.  (See 27 CFR 25.293.)  Producers of non-alcoholic kombucha products who are not required to qualify with TTB under the IRC are not subject to this requirement.

However, to avoid liability under the IRC and ABLA, kombucha producers should take appropriate steps, including testing of alcohol content, to ensure that the alcohol content of their product does not reach or exceed 0.5 percent alcohol by volume at any time during production, during bottling, or after bottling.

Last reviewed/updated: 09/17/2015


K16. How do I qualify as a brewer?

To qualify as a brewer, you must file and receive approval of a Brewer’s Notice and a bond.  Visit our Getting Started in the Brewing Industry page for more general information.

You also should contact state and local alcohol regulatory authorities to learn about state and local requirements.

Last reviewed/updated: 09/17/2015


K15. What federal tax applies if my kombucha is classified as beer?

Section 5051 of the IRC imposes a tax on all beer brewed or produced, and removed for consumption or sale, within the United States, or imported into the United States. Under the IRC, a brewer pays taxes on a barrel equivalency, and a barrel (when used as a unit of measurement) is defined as 31 gallons of beer. The rate of tax is $18 per barrel, and a like rate for any other quantity or for fractional parts of a barrel would apply. A reduced rate of $7 a barrel applies to the first 60,000 barrels of beer removed for consumption or sale by qualified brewers in the United States who produce not more than 2,000,000 barrels of beer during a calendar year.

Last reviewed/updated: 09/17/2015


K14. What requirements apply if the kombucha I produce is classified as beer?

If your kombucha is classified as beer, you must qualify as a brewer under 27 CFR part 25 and pay appropriate Federal excise taxes. Please refer to K15 and K16 for more information on beer tax rates and qualification as a brewer, respectively.

If we classify your kombucha as beer, you must remove it in a container that complies with the marking, branding, and labeling requirements of part 25. (See K12 under Kombucha Labeling Requirements for additional information).

Also under part 25 (see 27 CFR 25.55), a brewer must file a formula with TTB before producing kombucha.

If, based on the submitted formula, we classify your kombucha as a malt beverage (as defined by the FAA Act) your kombucha is also subject to the FAA Act, including the labeling and advertising requirements of 27 CFR part 7.

In addition, if your kombucha contains 0.5% or more alcohol by volume, your containers must bear the health warning statement, as outlined in 27 CFR part 16.  See K11 under Kombucha Labeling Requirements for more information. 

Last reviewed/updated: 09/17/2015


K13. Does the Federal Alcohol Administration Act (FAA Act), including its additional label requirements, apply to kombucha with an alcohol content of 0.5 percent or more?

The determination of whether a kombucha falls within the classification of a malt beverage, wine, or distilled spirits product under the FAA Act must be made on a case-by-case basis, depending on the formulation and method of production.  Products subject to the FAA Act must comply with its labeling and advertising regulations, trade practice rules, and additional qualification requirements.

Some alcohol beverages are subject to tax as beer, but are not subject to the requirements of the FAA Act. For example, beer (other than saké or similar products) that is made without both malted barley and hops is not subject to the labeling requirements of the FAA Act and must instead comply with FDA labeling requirements.  Such products are still subject to the marking requirements of the IRC and the health warning statement requirements of ABLA.

For more information on brewery products not subject to the FAA Act’s labeling and advertising regulations, see TTB Ruling 2008-3.

Last reviewed/updated: 09/17/2015


K12. What labeling requirements apply to my kombucha under the IRC?

IRC labeling requirements apply to all kombucha products that contain 0.5 percent or more alcohol by volume, regardless of whether the product is also subject to the labeling requirements of the FAA Act.  (See K13.)

If your kombucha is classified as a beer, you must comply with the labeling and marking regulations at 27 CFR 25.141-25.145, including the requirement that each container must show by label or otherwise:

  • The name or trade name of the brewer;
  • The net contents of the container;
  • The nature of the product (such as “beer”); and
  • The place of production.

Last reviewed/updated: 09/17/2015


K11. Are kombucha containers required to bear a health warning statement?

Yes, if the kombucha beverage contains 0.5 percent or more alcohol by volume. The container of any alcohol beverage sold or distributed in the United States with an alcohol content of 0.5 percent or more must bear the health warning statement required by the Alcoholic Beverage Labeling Act of 1988.  (See 27 U.S.C. 215 and 27 CFR part 16.) This requirement applies regardless of whether the kombucha is subject to the labeling requirements of the Federal Alcohol Administration Act (FAA Act). (See K13.)

See 27 CFR part 16 for the wording, type size and other formatting rules regarding the health warning statement.

Last reviewed/updated: 09/17/2015


K10. May I produce kombucha containing 0.5% or more alcohol by volume for my personal or family use without paying federal excise tax?

Yes, if the kombucha is classified as beer. Federal law and TTB regulations allow an adult to produce, without payment of tax, a limited amount of beer for personal or family use and not for sale. The amount produced may not exceed 200 gallons per calendar year for households of two or more adults, or 100 gallons per calendar year if there is only one adult residing in the household. See Section 5053(e) of the IRC and 27 CFR 25.205 for more information about the personal exemption for beer.

Please note that although there is a similar exemption for home production of wine (see Section 5042(a)(2) of the IRC and 27 CFR 24.75), federal law provides no exemption for the production of distilled spirits for personal use. More information about the prohibition on home distillation is available at our Home Distilling page.

Home producers of beer or wine should also contact state and local alcohol regulatory authorities to learn about their requirements.

Last reviewed/updated: 09/17/2015


K9. I produce kombucha that is intended to be kept refrigerated, but it was stored by the retailer in an unrefrigerated area, and the alcohol content increased to 0.5% or more alcohol by volume due to continued fermentation in the bottle. Am I liable for the taxes?

Yes, you are liable for the federal excise taxes on this alcohol beverage, and you may face other liability under federal law.  Refrigeration of the product is not an adequate method of ensuring that the alcohol content will not increase while in the original container after removal because, among other things, you cannot control whether the product will be refrigerated after removal.

If TTB picks up a sample of kombucha in the marketplace and determines that the sample has an alcohol content of 0.5% or more alcohol by volume, TTB will expect the producer to either:

  • Take corrective steps, such as adopting a manufacturing method to ensure that fermentation does not continue after bottling; or
  • Qualify with TTB as a producer of alcohol beverages. 

To avoid potential liability for violations of the IRC and ABLA, a manufacturer of kombucha who is not qualified as a brewer but wishes to produce kombucha as a non-alcoholic beverage should use a method of production that ensures that the alcohol content of the kombucha will not increase after removal from the premises due to continued fermentation in the container.

Last reviewed/updated: 09/22/2015


K8. What if kombucha contains less than 0.5% alcohol by volume at the time of bottling, but the alcohol content increases to 0.5% or more due to continued fermentation in the bottle?

Such products are alcohol beverages under the IRC and must comply with all the same federal laws and regulations as a kombucha manufactured as an alcohol beverage, including payment of the appropriate federal excise taxes and the requirement to include the Health Warning Statement on the product labels.

If TTB picks up a sample of kombucha in the marketplace and determines that the sample has an alcohol content of 0.5% or more alcohol by volume, TTB will expect the producer to either:

  • Take corrective steps, such as adopting a manufacturing method to ensure that fermentation does not continue after bottling; or
  • Qualify with TTB as a producer of alcohol beverages. 

To avoid potential liability for violations of the IRC and ABLA, a manufacturer of kombucha who is not qualified as a brewer but wishes to produce kombucha as a non-alcoholic beverage should use a method of production that ensures that the alcohol content of the kombucha will not increase after removal from the premises due to continued fermentation in the container.

Last reviewed/updated: 09/22/2015


K7. May I produce kombucha at a location that is not qualified with TTB for the production of alcohol beverages as long as the finished product contains less than 0.5% alcohol by volume?

You may produce such a product without qualifying with TTB as long as the product never reaches 0.5% alcohol by volume or more during production, at the time of bottling, or after removal due to continued fermentation in the container.

Last reviewed/updated: 09/17/2015


K6. How does the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (IRC) classify kombucha that contains 0.5% or more alcohol by volume?

Because “kombucha” does not refer to a recognized classification of alcohol beverage, the classification of kombucha under the IRC depends on its formulation and method of production.  For example, under the IRC, beer may be fermented from malted barley or a substitute for malt, such as sugar.

If the alcohol content of a kombucha is 0.5% or more by volume, and the alcohol is derived from the fermentation of sugar or another appropriate substitute for malt, it will generally be classified as beer under the IRC and TTB regulations at 27 CFR part 25.  For more information on the definition of beer, see 26 U.S.C. 5052(a) and 27 CFR 25.15.

It is possible to produce a kombucha-style product that is classified as a wine or distilled spirits product.  However, for purposes of these FAQs, we are assuming that the kombucha products that we are addressing derive alcohol primarily from the fermentation of sugar, and, thus would be classified as beer under the IRC and TTB regulations if they contain 0.5% or more alcohol by volume.

Producers who are unsure of the classification of their kombucha products should submit a written request to TTB’s Alcohol Labeling and Formulation Division.  You should provide a detailed and specific quantitative list of every ingredient used to make the kombucha, as well as a step-by-step description of the entire production process.

Last reviewed/updated: 09/17/2015


K5. What should I do if I'm not sure if the kombucha that I produce contains 0.5% or more alcohol by volume?

Producers who are unsure of the alcohol content of their kombucha may have it tested, using any method that has been formally validated or is otherwise scientifically valid for purposes of determining the alcohol content of beverages, including beverages that contain less than 0.5% alcohol by volume. A scientifically valid method is, among other things, accurate, precise, and specific for its intended purpose, and it has results that are consistently reliable, accurate, and reproducible.

See Kombucha and Appropriate Alcohol Analysis Testing Methods (K17-K20) for additional information about testing for alcohol content.

Last reviewed/updated: 09/17/2015


K4. What should I do if I suspect that a kombucha that I purchased contains 0.5% or more alcohol by volume?

Consumers who suspect that a kombucha they bought may actually be an alcohol beverage that has not been produced or labeled in compliance with federal law are encouraged to view our consumer complaints page for suggestions about how to proceed.

Last reviewed/updated: 09/17/2015


K3. What causes a kombucha to continue fermenting in the original container after removal from the producer's premises?

Fermentation, which is part of kombucha production, is a natural reaction when sugar and yeast are combined.  Several factors can influence how much alcohol is produced by fermentation, including time and temperature.

Even though a kombucha beverage may have less than 0.5% alcohol by volume at the time of bottling, fermentation may continue in the bottle after it leaves the production facility, depending on how the kombucha beverage is made and stored.  As a result, the alcohol content may increase to 0.5% or more alcohol by volume. Such a product is an alcohol beverage, which is subject to the laws and regulations governing the production, taxation, labeling, marketing, and distribution of alcohol beverages.

Last reviewed/updated: 09/17/2015

 


K2. Are kombucha products alcohol beverages?

Some kombucha products contain 0.5% or more alcohol by volume. These products are alcohol beverages and are consequently subject to TTB regulations.

It is important to note that regardless of the alcohol content of the finished beverage, when kombucha reaches 0.5% alcohol or more by volume at any time during the production process, it must be produced on a TTB-qualified premises and is subject to TTB regulation.  Thus, for example, a producer of a kombucha-style beer that reaches an alcohol content of 1.2% alcohol by volume during production must qualify as a brewer and comply with TTB regulations in 27 CFR part 25, even if the finished product is a non-alcoholic beverage (containing less than 0.5% alcohol by volume)

For purposes of these FAQs, we are assuming that the kombucha products that we are addressing would derive alcohol primarily from the fermentation of sugar, and, thus would be classified as beer under the IRC and TTB regulations if they contain 0.5% or more alcohol by volume.  See K6 for additional information on how kombucha containing 0.5% or more alcohol by volume is classified under federal law.

Last reviewed/updated: 09/17/2015

 


K1 : What is kombucha?

While there is variation among kombucha products, the term "kombucha" generally refers to a fermented beverage produced from a mixture of steeped tea and sugar, combined with a culture of yeast strains and bacteria. Some kombucha products also have fruit juice or other flavors added during production. The combination of sugar and yeast triggers fermentation, which may produce a kombucha with an alcohol content of 0.5% or more alcohol by volume. When this happens, the kombucha is regulated as an alcohol beverage under federal law and TTB regulations.

Last reviewed/updated: 09/17/2015


Alcohol Beverages Containing Added Caffeine

CAB4: What are the Consequences under the FAA Act of a Determination that an Alcohol Beverage Product is Adulterated?

It is TTB's position that adulterated malt beverages, distilled spirits, and wines are mislabeled within the meaning of the FAA Act. This means, as explained further below, that the sale or shipment of an adulterated alcohol beverage in interstate or foreign commerce by an industry member subject to the provisions of 27 U.S.C. 205(e) constitutes a violation of the FAA Act, even if the bottler or importer of the product in question has obtained a certificate of label approval (COLA) or an approved formula.

Subject to the jurisdictional requirements of the FAA Act, mislabeled distilled spirits, wines, and malt beverages, including adulterated products, may not be sold or shipped, delivered for sale or shipment, or otherwise introduced or received in interstate or foreign commerce, or removed from customs custody for consumption, by a producer, importer, or wholesaler, or other industry member subject to 27 U.S.C. 205(e). TTB may pursue action to suspend or to revoke the FAA Act basic permit of industry members who willfully violate the conditions of their permit with respect to mislabeled, adulterated products. See 27 U.S.C. 204(e). Violations of the labeling provisions of the FAA Act are punishable as misdemeanors and the Government may seek injunctive relief to prevent and restrain such violations. TTB also may seek an offer in compromise covering the liability arising with respect to such violations in the sum of not more than $500 for each offense. See 27 U.S.C. 207. Under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, TTB officers may, in appropriate circumstances, temporarily detain any alcohol beverage container that is being removed in violation of law, or seek a voluntary detention agreement with the industry member. See 26 U.S.C. 5311.

 


CAB9: Will TTB Take Action with Regard to Approved Labels or Formulas for Alcohol Beverages Containing Added Caffeine?

TTB is reviewing all approved formulas and labels for such products and will consult with FDA prior to taking action with regard to approved labels or formulas. We encourage all industry members who have received approvals from TTB and who have reason to believe that their products may not be in compliance with the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFD&CA).

 


CAB2: What Actions Has TTB Taken With Regard to the Malt Beverages Identified by FDA as Adulterated?

On November 18, 2010, TTB issued letters to those four industry members regarding the seven malt beverage products that FDA identified in its warning letters as being adulterated. The TTB letters put these companies on notice that FDA's determination that a product is adulterated under the FFDCA would have consequences under the FAA Act, because of TTB's position that adulterated alcohol beverages are mislabeled within the meaning of the FAA Act.

Consistent with the terms of the FDA warning letters, TTB asked that the companies advise TTB within the same 15-day period of the steps that they have taken to correct any violations of the FAA Act and the date by which each violation will be corrected. TTB sent copies of these letters to the brewers who have obtained certificates of label approval from TTB for these products. You can read the TTB letters, along with other TTB guidance on the issue of alcohol beverage products containing added caffeine.


CAB7: Is TTB Sharing Information with FDA About Alcohol Beverages Containing Added Caffeine?

Yes. TTB will continue to coordinate with FDA on this matter that affects issues within the jurisdiction of both agencies. TTB has already shared information with FDA regarding approved labels for alcohol beverages containing added caffeine, and we will continue to do so, as needed. In addition, upon receipt of a formal request from FDA, we will provide information to FDA about formulas for beers containing added caffeine that are approved under 27 CFR Part 25. This disclosure will be made pursuant to our authority under 26 U.S.C. 6103(o)(1) to share return information with employees of a Federal agency whose official duties require such disclosure. Such a disclosure is contingent upon an agreement by FDA to safeguard the confidentiality of this information.

 


CAB5: What if I Have Obtained a COLA or Formula Approval for My Alcohol Beverage?

TTB reminds you that each producer and importer of alcohol beverages is responsible for ensuring that the ingredients in its products comply with the laws and regulations that FDA administers. TTB's approval of a COLA or formula does not imply or otherwise constitute a determination that the product complies with the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFD&CA), including a determination as to whether the product is adulterated because it contains an unapproved food additive. Subject to the jurisdictional requirements of the FAA Act, mislabeled distilled spirits, wines, and malt beverages, including adulterated products, may not be sold or shipped, delivered for sale or shipment, or otherwise introduced or received in interstate or foreign commerce, or removed from customs custody for consumption, by a producer, importer, or wholesaler, or other industry member subject to 27 U.S.C. 205(e), even if the bottler or importer of the product in question has obtained a COLA or an approved formula.

 


CAB10: Does the Return of Alcohol Beverages Containing Added Caffeine by a Retailer or Wholesaler Violate the FAA Act's Prohibitions Against Consignment Sales?

No. Among other things, the FAA Act's prohibitions against consignment sales apply only to the conditions agreed to at the time of a sale. Furthermore, these prohibitions do not apply to transactions involving solely the bona fide return of merchandise for ordinary and usual commercial reasons arising after the merchandise has been sold. See 27 U.S.C. 205(d). The regulations at 27 CFR Part 11, Subpart D set forth several examples of "ordinary and usual commercial reasons" that may arise after the product has been sold, including a situation in which products may no longer be lawfully sold. See 27 CFR 11.34. The actions of a retailer or wholesaler in returning to an industry member alcohol beverages containing added caffeine, after the sale of the product, for cash or credit against outstanding indebtedness, due to concerns about the legal status of such products under Federal, State, or local law, would not violate the consignment sales provisions of 27 U.S.C. 205(d). Of course, the regulations do not mandate that the industry member accept such a return. See 27 CFR 11.31(b).

 


CAB3: Will TTB Take Enforcement Action with Regard to the Alcohol Beverages that FDA Has Identified as Adulterated?

Consistent with the actions taken by FDA, TTB is not planning to take enforcement action pending expiration of the 15-day period provided to the companies to respond to our letters. At that point, we will evaluate their responses and we will consult with FDA prior to taking enforcement action. It is our expectation that the companies will take voluntary action that will prevent any violations of the FAA Act and will at the same time address the concerns expressed by FDA.

 

 


CAB8: Will TTB Continue to Approve Labels or Formulas for Alcohol Beverages Containing Added Caffeine?

TTB urges all industry members to carefully consider their responsibilities to comply with the requirements of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFD&CA) and to consult with FDA regarding the General Recognized As Safe (GRAS) status of their intended use of caffeine prior to submitting any such applications to TTB.

 


CAB1: What Actions Has FDA Taken with Regard to Malt Beverages Containing Added Caffeine?

By letter dated November 17, 2010, FDA advised four industry members that it had reviewed the regulatory status of seven malt beverage products, each of which contains caffeine that has been directly added to an alcohol beverage and packaged in combined caffeine and alcohol form. The FDA letter warned the industry members that as it was used in their products, caffeine is an unsafe food additive, and therefore the products are adulterated under section 402(a)(2)(C) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA), 21 U.S.C. 342(a)(2)(C). Among other things, the FDA letter stated that "FDA is not aware of any publicly available data to establish affirmatively safe conditions of use for caffeine added directly to alcoholic beverages and packaged in a combined form."

FDA provided these industry members with fifteen (15) days to advise them of the specific steps they have taken to correct the violation identified above and to assure that similar violations do not occur. The FDA letter provided that their responses should include any documentation necessary to show that correction has been achieved. Finally, the FDA letter provided that if the industry members cannot complete all corrections within the 15 days, they should explain the reason for the delay and the date by which each such item will be corrected and documented. The warning letters, as well as other information on the issue of alcohol beverage products containing added caffeine, may be found on the FDA website.

 


CAB6: How do TTB and FDA Interact with Regard to Adulterated Alcohol Beverages?

While TTB regulates the labeling of alcohol beverages pursuant to the FAA Act, it is FDA's responsibility to evaluate the safety of ingredients added to alcohol beverages, pursuant to FDA's authority under the FFDCA. TTB operates under a 1987 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with FDA that clarifies and delineates the enforcement responsibilities of each agency with respect to alcohol beverages that may be adulterated under the FFDCA and establishes procedures for coordination between the two agencies. The MOU acknowledges that TTB is the agency with a system of specific statutory and regulatory controls over alcohol beverages and that FDA has authority regarding determinations regarding the safety of food additives used in the production of alcohol beverages and over making determinations about when an alcohol beverage is considered adulterated.

 


CAB11: What if My Alcohol Beverage Product Contains Caffeine But I Did Not Receive a Warning Letter from FDA?

Industry members should contact FDA with all inquiries as to the GRAS* status of ingredients added to alcohol beverages. TTB will continue to coordinate with FDA on this matter.

* generally recognized as safe

 


Export Certificate Program

ECP3: How do I obtain an export certificate from TTB for wines, beer/malt beverages, or distilled spirits exported outside of the United States?

TTB's Export Documents/Certificates webpage provides detailed information about obtaining a paper export certificate from TTB.

  • For Certificates of Free Sale, Origin and/or Age, Manufacturing, Health, Sanitation, Authenticity, Sanitary Statements/Certificates, and any other certificate that an exporting country requires to be submitted on company letterhead, please use the provided export certificate template.
  • For U.S. wine exported to the European Union (EU), the EU requires that your shipment be accompanied by either a simplified export certificate, which is not submitted to TTB for processing, or a VI-1 Long Form (see Wine Exports to the European Union for additional information).
  • For U.S. wine exported to economies within the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) region, with the exception of China, you may consider using the APEC Model Wine Certificate, which includes instructions on completing the certificate. (See below for information on the export certificate accepted by China). This certificate is a consolidation of various export certificates, which includes the Certificate of Authenticity/Free Sale, Certificate of Health/Sanitation, and Certificate of Origin. APEC is comprised of 21 economies: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, the People’s Republic of China (China), Peru, the Republic of Korea, the Republic of the Philippines, the Russian Federation, Singapore, Thailand, the United States of America, and Vietnam. The use and scope of the certificate is at the discretion of the importing APEC economy. For instance, Thailand requires that importers complete the APEC Model Wine Certificate in a particular format, (see APEC Wine Certificate for Thailand for template) otherwise importers must submit samples of their products to Thailand's Excise Department for analysis. Please contact your importer to ensure that the authorities of the importing economy will accept this certificate in lieu of pre-existing requirements.
  • For U.S. wine exported to China, you may submit the consolidated wine export certificate. The certificate incorporates three certificates (Certificate of Origin, Certificate of Health/Sanitation, and Certificate of Authenticity/Free Sale) in one document. If you need a Certificate of Bottling, it must be submitted separately using the export certificate template. Please use the APEC Model Wine Certificate for wine exports to Hong Kong or Taiwan.
  • For distilled spirits only:
    • Use TTB Form 5110.58 for the Certificate of Origin and Age for Distilled Spirits, if appropriate.
    • Use TTB Form 5110.42 for the Certificate of Authenticity Bourbon Whisky.

Exporters may also use TTB’s electronic export certificate system to prepare their export certificate, if it is accepted by the destination country.

Shipments of goods that are for personal use only typically do not require export certificates.

Submitting Export Certificates to TTB

You have three options when submitting export certificates to TTB:

  • Electronically using myTTB;
  • Attaching a paper copy using IAD’s online contact form; or
  • Submitting a paper copy by mail or commercial carrier.

myTTB
Electronic export certificates may be prepared and retrieved through our electronic export certificate system at myTTB.


Please note that you will need to activate your entity at myTTB before you can use this system. For information on how to activate your entity, please visit our website TTBGov - myTTB Activate Entity. For information on how to manage an entity, please visit our website TTBGov - myTTB Entity Managers.

IAD’s Contact Form
If you are submitting a paper export certificate, please submit your paper export certificate requests using the IAD contact form, selecting “Export Certificates” as your reason for inquiry and attaching all required documents as a PDF.

By Mail or Commercial Carrier
You may send your paper export certificate requests through the U.S. Postal Service to the following address: 
Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB)
International Affairs Division
Attn: Export Certificate Program
1310 G St. NW, Box 12
Washington, DC 20005

Return of Export Certificates
If you would like to expedite the return of your paper export certificate, please include a pre-paid shipping label from the carrier of your choice (e.g., the U.S. Postal Service, UPS, FedEx) and attach it to your request. Due to security reasons, we are unable to access any pre-paid shipping labels by hyperlink or URL. 

Otherwise, we will return the certificate via the U.S. Postal Service to the return address indicated on your request.


ECP8: What is an apostille and how do I obtain one?

An apostille is a certificate issued by a designated authority in a country where the Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement for Legalization of Foreign Public Documents (Convention) is in force. Some countries may request an apostille to authenticate the seals and signatures of officials on public documents so that they can be recognized in foreign countries that are parties to the Convention.

In the United States, federal executive branch documents are authenticated by the U.S. Department of State Office of Authentications. The Office of Authentications completes apostilles for documents signed by TTB, such as export certificates.

The exporter will need to first obtain the export certificate from TTB and then submit the certificate processed by TTB to the Office of Authentications for an apostille.

Details on the apostille process are available at Office of Authentications (state.gov).

 


ECP1: How do I find out whether the country to which I want to export wine, beer/malt beverages, or distilled spirits produced in the United States requires an export certificate?

Our Import/Export Requirements Guide offers exporters information on some countries’ import requirements for wine, beer/malt beverages, and distilled spirits, including certification requirements for certain countries. The guide also includes information on licensing, labeling, and taxation. Please note that exporters should always contact the responsible foreign agencies (located in the Contacts section of each country page) to verify that the information listed is current.


ECP6: I am exporting wine to the European Union (EU). What type of certificates are required?

U.S. wine exported to the EU must be accompanied by either a simplified export certificate or a VI-1 form for each type and/or lot of grape wine.

EU Simplified Export Certificate (self-certifying)

  • Producing wineries that are also the exporter may use the simplified export certificate, which only requires one chemical analysis of the wine (actual alcohol content) and is self-certified by the exporter. (See TTB Industry Circular 2007-02 for additional information, including a sample certificate.)

The EU VI-1 forms certify that the wine exported (1) complies with the conditions governing the production and entry into circulation applicable in the United States of America, (2) has not been subjected to enological practices which are not permitted under current European Economic Community provisions, and (3) has been produced by a winery licensed by TTB for the production of grape wine. The winery must also send Attachment III (certification statement) along with the shipment. Detailed information concerning the VI-1 form can be found in Commission Regulation (EC) No. 555/2008 of 27 June 2008. This regulation, along with attached VI1 forms, can be found here.

EU VI-1 Short Form (self-certifying)

  • Producing wineries that are also the exporter may use the VI-1 short form once they are added to the official EU list of self-certifying wineries published in the EU Official Journal. To be added to the EU list, the producing winery must first fill out an Attachment IV certification statement and submit the completed form to TTB using the IAD contact form, selecting “Export Certificates” as your reason for inquiry. TTB provides the EU with any new submissions twice a year, in March and September. Once a winery has been added to the EU’s official list, they may begin using the VI-1 short form for exports to the EU.

EU VI-1 Long Form

  • Wholesale Basic Permit Holders, which are not the producer of the wine (producing winery), must use the VI-1 Long Form. The Long Form also may be used by any U.S. exporter (i.e., producing wineries and/or wholesale basic permit holders).

For a list of EU Member Countries and State(s), please see https://europa.eu/european-union/about-eu/countries_en.

The United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland) left the EU on January 31, 2020, but it continues to use EU forms and procedures. For the latest information on exporting wine to the United Kingdom, please see Importing and exporting wine - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).


ECP11: I would like to verify the authenticity of an export certificate. What do I need to do?

For export certificates generated by our electronic export certificate system, please scan the QR code in the upper right-hand corner of the certificate. You can then compare the information on the export certificate with the information that appears on the verification screen to verify the authenticity of the certificate. If you receive a message that it is an invalid ID number or surrendered, then the certificate is not valid. Please contact the International Affairs Division online if there are any further questions.

For all other certificates, please contact the International Affairs Division online to have the certificate verified.

 


ECP4: How long will it take to obtain an export certificate?

All paper export certificate requests are processed in the order they are received. Our goal is to process paper export certificates within 15 calendar days. Please see ECP10 on ways to avoid delays and ensure your request is processed as quickly as possible.

For questions on the status of your request, please contact IAD online using “Export Certificates” as your reason for inquiry or call our office at 202-453-2260. Please include in your message the date, method of submission, and the tracking number for the return shipping label you provided (if applicable).

 


ECP9: Can I submit requests for export certificates electronically?

Yes, we prefer that you use TTB’s electronic export certificate system at myTTB to prepare and manage your export certificates.

You also may submit paper export certificate requests using the IAD contact form, selecting “Export Certificates” as your reason for inquiry. Please see ECP10 on ways to avoid delays and ensure your request is processed as quickly as possible.


ECP2: Do I need a permit from TTB in order to obtain a TTB export certificate, and if so, how do I obtain a TTB permit?

If you would like to obtain a TTB export certificate, you must have a basic permit, registration, or brewer’s notice on file with TTB.

To do this, please send us an application and/or the required documentation for qualification. If you need assistance with determining what type of application to submit, please visit our website TTBGov - Applications for more information. Our Permits Online system allows you to electronically file original applications and amend those applications. To learn more about the Permits Online process, please see our tutorial. Please address any permit questions to the National Revenue Center here.


ECP7: I need a chemical analysis of the product. Where can I find a list of approved chemists?

You can find a list of chemists certified by TTB for the analysis of exported alcohol products on our Chemist Certification Program Information Web page.

 


ECP5: Does each alcohol beverage need an individual export certificate?

Generally, each shipment should have a separate export certificate. Typically, one certificate can cover several different products, as long as they are in the same shipment.

Our Import/Export Requirements Guide offers exporters information on some countries’ import requirements for wine, beer/malt beverages, and distilled spirits, including certification requirements for certain countries that may vary from the general guidance above. Exporters should always contact the responsible foreign agencies (located in the Contacts section of each country page) to verify that the information listed is current.

 


ECP10: What can I do to ensure that my paper export certificates will be processed by TTB as quickly as possible?

You can help us process your export certificate request expeditiously by following these tips:

  • Permit - Please ensure that the correct TTB permit, registry, or brewer’s notice number is provided on the certificate for the company listed. See ECP2 on how to obtain a permit, registry, or brewer’s notice number.
  • Signature - If using TTB’s export certificate template, please ensure both pages in the template are signed.
    • Include the typed name and position of the person signing the document after or below the signature on certificates submitted on your company’s letterhead.
    • o Ensure that the person signing the export certificate request has signing authority or power of attorney for the company on file with TTB. This is the most common reason for delay.
    • o The Certificate of Origin and Analysis must include the chemist’s printed or typed name below the signature so that we can verify that the chemist is a TTB-certified chemist.
  • Type of Certificate - Please use the appropriate export certificate template provided on the TTB export documents webpage, unless otherwise required by the importing country.
    • Fill in all of the requested information in the template.
    • The premise address listed on the export certificate must match the address on file with your permit with TTB. If your premise address has changed, you must apply for and receive an approved amended permit prior to conducting operations.
    • If using the export certificate template, please ensure you submit two signed copies of your request(s); one should appear with your company letterhead on top, and a second copy should appear on TTB letterhead.
  • Foreign Importer/Consignee Information - The name and address (i.e., street, city, and state), listed on the export certificate must be complete.
  • Return Shipping - Please include a prepaid shipping label from the carrier of your choice with your submission if you would like to be able to track your documents and receive an expected delivery date.
    • Please include your prepaid shipping label with your export certificate submission. We cannot guarantee that prepaid shipping labels sent separately from the export certificates will be used with the correct export certificate. Please see ECP3 for additional information on submitting your export certificates.
    • Otherwise, we will return the certificate through the U.S. Postal Service. Please ensure you include a mailing address to which you wish to have your export certificates returned.

 


Serving Facts Statements

SF4: May I make a low-calorie claim on a label that does not include either a statement of average analysis or a Serving Facts statement?

No. It has been the longstanding position of TTB and its predecessor agency that any caloric or carbohydrate statement or representation in the labeling and advertising of wines, distilled spirits, and malt beverages will be viewed as misleading unless it provides complete information about the calorie, carbohydrate, protein, and fat content of the product. As set forth in TTB Ruling 2004-1, a statement of average analysis, which includes information about calories, carbohydrates, protein and fat content on a per-serving basis, ensured that such labels or advertisements did not mislead consumers.

TTB Ruling 2013-2 does not change that position. Instead, it offers industry members an additional option in providing consumers with information about the nutrient and alcohol content of the product. TTB will view labels and advertisements as misleading if they make claims about the calorie or carbohydrate content of the product unless they include either a statement of average analysis in accordance with TTB Ruling 2004-1 or a Serving Facts statement that complies with the requirements of TTB Ruling 2013-2. Thus, a Serving Facts statement may now be used on such labels instead of a statement of average analysis.

 


SF9: If I wish to place a Serving Facts statement on my label or in my advertisement, should I provide information based on a serving or on the entire container?

A Serving Facts statement appearing on a label or in an advertisement may be stated per container size only if the container is equal to or less than a single serving size. However, as an option, the Serving Facts statement may be presented in a dual-column format, which provides information both per serving size and per container size.

Otherwise, the Serving Facts statement must be stated per serving size, and must specify the serving size as part of the statement. Serving sizes for purposes of Serving Facts labeling are specified in the chart below. These serving sizes must also be used when calculating the number of servings per container, which should be rounded to the nearest quarter of a serving. For example, a malt beverage with an alcohol content of 5 percent alcohol by volume in a can that contains 16 fl.oz. should be labeled as containing 1 ¼ 12 fl.oz. servings.

Serving SizeAlcohol Percent by Volume
WineDistilled SpiritsMalt Beverages
1.5 fl oz (44 ml), or 50 ml for 50 ml containers of distilled spirits Above 24%Above 24%
2.5 fl oz (74 ml)Above 16 to 24%Above 16 to 24%Above 16 to 24%
5 fl oz (148 ml)7 to 16%Above 7 to 16%Above 7 to 16%
12 fl oz (355 ml) Not more than 7%Not more than 7%

SF14: May I include a Serving Facts statement on my label in a format that is different from the examples set forth in TTB Ruling 2013-2?

You must submit a new application for label approval if you wish to use a format that differs from the examples set forth in the attachment toTTB Ruling 2013-2. Other formats for this type of information will be considered on a case-by-case basis. In considering other formats, TTB will take into consideration whether a proliferation of formats might tend to confuse consumers.

 


SF19: May I place the optional Serving Facts statement on my product's neck label?

You may include the optional Serving Facts statement on any label on the container, including a strip or neck label.

 


SF2: Is the use of a Serving Facts statement mandatory or optional?

It is optional. You may use a Serving Facts statement on any label or advertisement, and you may choose to use a Serving Facts statement in lieu of a statement of average analysis when making calorie or carbohydrate claims on labels or in advertisements. See question 4 for additional information about using a Serving Facts statement on labels with calorie or carbohydrate claims.

 


SF7: May I use a Serving Facts statement on a keg?

Yes. The labeling provisions of TTB Rulings 2013-2 and2004-1 apply to all containers used for the sale of wines, distilled spirits, or malt beverages at retail, including kegs.

 


SF12: May I add a Serving Facts statement to my approved label and also make additional changes without submitting a new application for label approval?

You may add a Serving Facts statement to your approved label as permitted in accordance with TTB Ruling 2013-2, and you may also make additional changes as permitted in accordance with the instructions for the COLA application form, TTB F 5100.31 (which also appear on COLAs Online for electronic submitters), without having to submit a new application for label approval. If the additional changes are not covered by the instructions on the COLA application form, you must submit a new application for label approval. Get a complete list of allowable changes and learn more about what changes can be made to an approved label.

 


SF17: The regulations require that certain products must include an alcohol content statement on the brand label. If I include an optional alcohol content statement as part of a Serving Facts statement for such products on a label other than the brand label, am I required to repeat the alcohol content statement on the brand label?

Yes. The inclusion of an optional alcohol content statement as part of a Serving Facts statement does not excuse industry members from compliance with existing regulations regarding the placement of mandatory alcohol content statements. The regulations require an alcohol content statement on the brand label for all distilled spirits and for those malt beverages containing alcohol derived from added flavors or other added nonbeverage ingredients (other than hops extract) containing alcohol. However, alcohol content statements may appear in more than one place on the container, provided that they are consistent and in compliance with all regulatory requirements. The percentage of alcohol by volume for wine containers may appear on any label.

 


SF5: I've been using a statement of average analysis on my "light" beer labels for years. May I continue to do so?

Yes. Statements of average analysis that comply with the requirements of TTB Ruling 2004-1 may continue to be used on labels and in advertisements.

 


SF10: Do I need to submit a new application for label approval if the only change to my label is to include either a Serving Facts statement or a statement of average analysis?

If an approved label is being changed only to include a statement of average analysis in accordance with TTB Ruling 2004-1 or a Serving Facts statement in accordance with TTB Ruling 2013-2, and the format for the Serving Facts statement is one that is depicted in the examples provided in the attachment to TTB Ruling 2013-2, the submission of a new application for a certificate of label approval (COLA) is not necessary.

 


SF15: May I include a Serving Facts statement on my label or in my advertisement without including information about the alcohol content of the product in the Serving Facts statement?

Yes. Serving Facts statements may include information about the alcohol content of the product on an optional basis. However, industry members may choose to not include alcohol content in the Serving Facts statement. An example of this format is set out in the attachment to TTB Ruling 2013-2.

 


SF20: Are there type size or font requirements for Serving Facts statements?

There are no specific type size or font requirements for the optional Serving Facts statement on labels or in advertisements. However, the statement should be on a contrasting background and should be readily legible under ordinary circumstances.

 


SF3: May I use a Serving Facts statement or a statement of average analysis on a label or in an advertisement that does not make any other calorie or carbohydrate claims?

Yes.

 


SF8: My malt beverages have a brand name that includes the term "light." However, in my advertisements, I make no other claims about nutrients (such as calories, carbohydrates, protein or fat). Am I required to place a Serving Facts statement or a statement of average analysis on these advertisements?

No. If your advertisement does not make any other claim about the nutrient content of the product, you are not required to place a Serving Facts statement or a statement of average analysis on the advertisement. However, labels for products including terms such as "light" in their brand names will not be approved without a statement of average analysis or a Serving Facts statement, unless the term "light" is used in a way that clearly does not refer to nutrient content.

 


SF13: Am I required to use a panel for the Serving Facts statement, or may I present this information in a linear display?

The attachment to TTB Ruling 2013-2 provides examples of both a panel display and a linear display. You may choose whichever display fits best on your label or advertisement.

 


SF18: I would like to add a Serving Facts statement to my approved label without submitting a new COLA application. May I use abbreviations for the terms used in the optional Serving Facts statement, or must I use the exact terms set forth in the examples?

The following abbreviations may be used on labels and in advertisements bearing the optional Serving Facts statement, with or without periods after the abbreviations:

(1) For "Alcohol by volume," the abbreviations "Alc/vol" or "Alc by vol"; 
(2) For U.S. fluid ounces, "fl oz"; 
(3) For calories, "Cal"; 
(4) For grams, "g"; 
(5) For Carbohydrate, "Carb"; 
(6) For serving (except in the title "Serving Facts"), "Serv";
(7) For milliliter, "ml"; and 
(8) For amount, "Amt."

 


SF1: What is the effect of TTB Ruling 2013-2?

This ruling modifies and amplifies TTB Ruling 2004-1 to permit the use of optional Serving Facts statements on labels and in advertisements.

 


SF6: What is a Serving Facts statement?

A Serving Facts statement includes the serving size, the number of servings per container, and the number of calories and the number of grams of carbohydrates, protein, and fat, per serving size. In addition, you may choose to include the percentage of alcohol by volume in the statement, and if you do so, you may also include the number of fluid ounces of pure ethyl alcohol per serving as part of the alcohol by volume statement.

 


SF11: Do I need to submit a new application for label approval if my approved label includes a statement of average analysis, but I want to remove that statement and replace it with a Serving Facts statement in one of the formats set out in the attachment to TTB Ruling 2013-2?

No. You may make that change without submitting a new application for label approval.

 


SF16: May I include the percentage of alcohol by volume on my Serving Facts statement without including a statement of the fluid ounces of alcohol per serving?

Yes. Alcohol content may be presented in the Serving Facts statement as a percentage of alcohol by volume. In addition, if alcohol content is expressed as a percentage of alcohol by volume, the Serving Facts statement may also include a statement of the fluid ounces of pure ethyl alcohol per serving (rounded to the nearest tenth) as part of the alcohol by volume statement. However, industry members may choose to include the percentage of alcohol by volume in the Serving Facts statement without including a statement of the number of fluid ounces of alcohol per serving.

 


Sugar Content Statements

SUG4: Does this guidance apply to labeling claims indicating a higher sugar content for the grapes used in wine that are made in accordance with ATF Ruling 82-4 and ATF Ruling 78-4?

This guidance does not apply to wine labels bearing a descriptive term (such as "Late Harvest") that is intended to indicate a higher sugar content for the grapes used in the wine. TTB allows the use of certain descriptive terms relating to the sugar content of grapes provided that the amount of sugar contained in the grapes at the time of harvest and the amount of residual sugar in the finished wine are stated on the label, in compliance with the provisions of ATF Ruling 78-4 and ATF Ruling 82-4. Such statements are not required to be accompanied by a statement of average analysis or a Serving Facts statement, and you should refer to ATF Ruling 78-4 and ATF Ruling 82-4 for guidance on use of this type of statement.


SUG2: May my label or advertisement include a claim such as "Zero Sugar," "No Sugar," or "Sugar Free," if the product contains less than 0.5 g of sugar per serving?

Yes, if a serving contains less than 0.5 g of sugar, you may include a claim such as "Zero Sugar," "No Sugar," or "Sugar Free." Such claims must be made in accordance with the guidance set forth for carbohydrate representations in TTB Ruling 2004-1 and TTB Ruling 2013-2, which provides that the label or advertisement must also include either a statement of average analysis in accordance with TTB Ruling 2004-1 or a Serving Facts statement in accordance with TTB Ruling 2013-2. The serving size on which the sugar content statement is based must be consistent with the applicable serving size under those rulings.

 


SUG5: May I include health claims on labels and advertisements suggesting that my sugar-free alcohol beverage is appropriate for persons suffering from certain diseases or health-related conditions?

TTB reminds industry members that due to the health risks posed by alcohol consumption, sugar content is not the only factor in determining whether an alcohol beverage is appropriate for consumption by persons suffering from health-related conditions. Statements, symbols, vignettes, or other forms of labeling or advertising statements that expressly, or by implication, characterize the relationship of the product, or the sugar content of the product, to a disease or health-related condition are prohibited unless such statements comply with the requirements for specific health claims as set forth in the TTB regulations. See 27 CFR 4.39(h)(2)(ii)4.64(i)(2)(ii)5.1295.235(d)7.129, and 7.235(e).

 


SUG3: What is meant by sugars on an alcohol beverage label or advertisement?

For purpose of this guidance, the term "sugars" refers to the sum of free monosaccharides and disaccharides in the beverage. To calculate sugars, you must determine the weight in grams per serving of all free monosaccharides and disaccharides in the beverage sample. Do not include any artificial or natural no-calorie sweeteners in your calculation.

TTB generally monitors compliance of labeling and advertising claims by using appropriate methods found in the Official Methods of Analysis of the AOAC International (AOAC International, Gaithersburg, MD).

 


SUG1: May I provide information about the number of grams, per serving, of sugar in my product on my label or in my advertisement?

Truthful, accurate, and non-misleading numerical statements about the sugar content of a product are permitted on alcohol beverage labels and in advertisements. Sugar is a type of carbohydrate, so a sugar content statement is a carbohydrate claim and must be made in accordance with the guidance set forth for carbohydrate representations in TTB Ruling 2004-1 and TTB Ruling 2013-2. Accordingly, a truthful, accurate, and non-misleading numerical statement about the sugar content of a product may appear on a label or in an advertisement if the label or advertisement also bears either a statement of average analysis in accordance with TTB Ruling 2004-1 or a Serving Facts statement in accordance with TTB Ruling 2013-2 and the serving size on which the sugar content statement is based is consistent with the applicable serving size under those rulings.

Numerical sugar content claims should be made in accordance with the guidance set forth in TTB Procedure 2004-1 with regard to carbohydrate content statements. Thus, the number of grams (g) of sugar in a serving must be expressed to the nearest tenth of a gram, except that if a serving contains less than 1 gram, the statement "Contains less than 1 gram (g)" or "less than 1 gram (g)" may be used as an alternative. If the serving contains less than 0.5 g of sugar, the content may be expressed as zero (or 0) grams (g).

 


Alcohol Facts Statements

AF4: How do I calculate the fluid ounces of alcohol per serving?

The number of fluid ounces of alcohol per serving is calculated by multiplying the number of fluid ounces in a serving by the percentage of alcohol by volume and rounding to the nearest tenth of a fluid ounce. Examples are set forth below:

Wine at 14 percent alcohol by volume
Serving size:  5 fl. oz.  Alcohol by volume:  14% (or 0.14)
Fl.  oz. of alcohol per serving:  5 x 0.14 = 0.7 fl. oz. of alcohol per serving

Malt beverage at 4 percent alcohol by volume
Serving size:  12 fl. oz.  Alcohol by volume:  4% (or 0.04)
Fl.  oz. of alcohol per serving:  12 x 0.04 = 0.48 fl. oz. of alcohol per serving (rounded to 0.5)

Distilled spirits at 40 percent alcohol by volume
Serving size:  1.5 fl. oz.  Alcohol by volume:  40% (or 0.4)
Fl. oz. of alcohol per serving:  1.5 x 0.4 = 0.6 fl. oz. of alcohol per serving

 


AF9: What are examples of acceptable Alcohol Facts statements?

Examples of acceptable Alcohol Facts statements are depicted below. If one of these formats is used, the submission of a new COLA application for the sole reason of including this additional information is unnecessary.

  • The following Alcohol Facts statement illustrates an acceptable panel display for a 750 milliliter bottle of wine containing 14 percent alcohol by volume.
  • The following Alcohol Facts statement illustrates an acceptable linear display for a 24 fluid ounce can of beer containing 5 percent alcohol by volume and includes information about the fluid ounces of alcohol per can.
  • The following Alcohol Facts statement illustrates an acceptable display for a 50 milliliter bottle of distilled spirits containing 40 percent alcohol by volume.
  • The following Alcohol Facts statement illustrates an acceptable display for a 16 fluid ounce malt beverage bottle containing 8 percent alcohol by volume and includes information about the fluid ounces of alcohol per bottle.
Alcohol Facts

 


AF2: What serving sizes must I use if I include an Alcohol Facts statement on my label or in my advertisement?

Serving sizes for purposes of Alcohol Facts labeling must be consistent with the sizes set forth in TTB Ruling 2013-2, and are specified in the chart below.

Serving SizeAlcohol Percent by Volume
WineDistilled SpiritsMalt Beverages
1.5 fl oz (44 ml), or 50 ml for 50 ml containers of distilled spirits Above 24% Above 24%
2.5 fl oz (74 ml)Above 16 to 24%Above 16 to 24%Above 16 to 24%
5 fl oz (148 ml)7 to 16%Above 7 to 16%Above 7 to 16%
12 fl oz (355 ml) Not more than 7%Not more than 7%

AF7: Does the inclusion of an "Alcohol Facts" statement on my label satisfy any applicable regulatory requirements for an alcohol content statement?

The TTB labeling regulations require an alcohol content statement, expressed as a percentage of alcohol by volume, for certain products. Because the Alcohol Facts statement includes a statement of the percentage of alcohol by volume, it will satisfy those requirements as long as it complies with the placement and type size requirements set forth in the regulations.

 


AF5: May the "Alcohol Facts" statement be stated per container size?

An Alcohol Facts statement appearing on a label or an advertisement may be stated per container size only if the container size is equal to or less than a single serving size. However, as an option, the Alcohol Facts statement may be presented in a format that provides information both per serving size and per container size.

 


AF10: Will TTB consider other formats for Alcohol Facts information?

Other formats for per-serving alcohol content information will be considered on a case-by-case basis and will necessitate the submission of a new COLA application.

 


AF3: How do I calculate the number of servings per container?

The number of servings per container is calculated by dividing the total net contents by the serving size as specified by AF2. The number of servings in a container must be rounded to the nearest quarter of a serving. Examples of determining the number of servings per container are shown below.

16 fluid ounce can of beer at 12 percent alcohol by volume:

  • Alc. by vol.: 12%
  • Total net contents:  16 fl. oz.
  • Serving size:  5 fl. oz.

Servings per container:  16 fl. oz. ÷ 5 fl. oz. = 3.20 rounded to the nearest quarter of a serving = 3 1/4 servings per container.

1 liter bottle of distilled spirits at 40 percent alcohol by volume

  • Alc. by vol.: 40%
  • Total net contents: 1 Liter (1000 ml)
  • Serving size:  1.5 fl. oz. (44 ml)

Servings per container:  1000 ml ÷ 44 ml = 22.73 rounded to the nearest quarter of a serving = 22 3/4 servings per container

750 ml bottle of wine at 13.5 percent alcohol by volume

  • Alc. by vol. 13.5%
  • Total net contents: 750 ml
  • Serving size: 5 fl. oz. (148 ml)

Servings per container:  750 ml ÷ 148 ml = 5.07 rounded to the nearest quarter of a serving = 5 servings per container

 


AF8: Must I submit a new application for label approval if I want to add an "Alcohol Facts" statement to my approved label?

No, if an approved label is being changed only to include an Alcohol Facts statement following the guidelines in these FAQs, and the format used is one that is depicted in the examples provided in AF9, the submission of a new application for label approval is not necessary.

 


AF1: May I provide per-serving alcohol content information on my label or in my advertisement without providing nutrient content information?

Yes. If your label or advertisement does not include any nutrient content statements or claims, you may provide the same truthful and accurate per-serving alcohol content information that is allowed as part of a Serving Facts statement under TTB Ruling 2013-2. This information should be provided under the heading "Alcohol Facts," to distinguish it from a "Serving Facts" statement, and must include the serving size (in accordance with TTB Ruling 2013-2), the number of servings per container, and the percentage of alcohol by volume together with a numerical statement of the number of fluid ounces of pure ethyl alcohol per serving (rounded to the nearest tenth). If you wish to make any type of nutrient content statement or claim on the label or advertisement, along with optional per-serving alcohol content information, you should use a Serving Facts statement in accordance with TTB Ruling 2013-2.

 


AF6: Is there a minimum type size for Alcohol Facts statements?

Generally, there are no minimum type size requirements for Alcohol Facts statements; however, the information should be readily legible and appear on a contrasting background. If it is being used to satisfy an alcohol content statement requirement on labels or in advertisements, it must meet the type size and placement requirements for that information.

 


Extraction Products

EP1: What are extraction products?

While there is some variation in production methods, extraction products are generally produced by steeping herbs, flowers, gems, or minerals in water, which is used as an extracting agent. The steeping process is believed to extract various elements from the steeped material which are beneficial to the user of the extraction product. The herbs, flowers, gems, or minerals are removed after steeping, and alcohol, usually vodka or brandy, is added to the water as a preservative. In some cases, alcohol may be used as the extracting agent. Extraction products are generally sold as sprays or drops, usually in one or two ounce containers. These products are generally marketed, advertised, and labeled as "essences," but they are not the same as fruit or other essences that are commercially produced and intended for use as flavorings for alcohol beverages or other foods.

 


EP6: What rules apply to health claims on the labels or in advertisements for extraction products?

Due to the fact that extraction products are generally sold as dietary supplements or "natural health remedies," TTB has observed that the labels and advertising for the products often contain claims regarding the health effects derived from using the products.

If the products are determined to be alcohol beverages (i.e. 0.5 percent ABV and fit for beverage purposes) any claims on labels or in advertising for the products would be subject to the labeling and advertising requirements of the FAA Act and the TTB regulations at 27 CFR part 4, part 5 or part 7. This includes the regulations regarding health-related statements.

Health-related statements are generally defined as statements related to health, including statements of a curative or therapeutic nature that, expressly or by implication, suggest a relationship between the consumption of alcohol beverages, or any substance found within alcohol beverages, and health benefits or effects on health. Health-related statements include both specific health claims and general references to alleged health benefits, or effects on health as well as health-related directional statements such as those terms which are defined in the regulations. Health-related statements also include statements and claims that imply that a physical or psychological sensation results from consuming the alcohol, as well as statements and claims of nutritional value (e.g., statements of vitamin content).

In general, advertisements may not contain any health-related statement that is untrue in any particular or tends to create a misleading impression as to the effects of alcohol consumption on health. TTB will evaluate such statements on a case-by-case basis and may require as part of the health-related statement a disclaimer, or some other qualifying statement, to dispel any misleading impression conveyed by the health-related statement. Such disclaimer or other qualifying statement must appear as prominent as the health-related statement.

 


EP11: What responsibilities do importers, wholesalers, and retailers have regarding extraction products that are determined to be alcohol beverages?

If the extraction product is a wine, malt beverage, or distilled spirits product subject to the FAA Act, importers and wholesalers of the product must obtain a basic permit from TTB. Additionally, wholesalers and retailers of extraction products that are alcohol beverages must register with TTB as dealers in alcohol beverages, using form TTB F 5630.5d or via Permits Online. Dealers must meet the requirements outlined under the TTB regulations at 27 CFR part 31. Dealers also should contact State and local alcohol regulatory authorities to learn about State and local requirements.

 


EP4: Does the Federal Alcohol Administration Act (FAA Act) apply to extraction products?

If you are a producer, importer, or wholesaler of extraction products that are alcohol beverages (i.e. 0.5 percent or more ABV and fit for beverage purposes) you may be subject to the permit, labeling, and advertising requirements of the FAA Act, depending on the classification of the alcohol beverage product.* The determination of whether an extraction product, that is an alcohol beverage, falls within the classification of a wine, malt beverage, or distilled spirits product under the FAA Act must be made on a case-by-case basis, depending on the formulation and method of production.

Some alcohol beverages are subject to tax as wine or beer but are not subject to the requirements of the FAA Act. For example, wine containing less than 7 percent alcohol by volume, and beer that is not made with both malted barley and hops, are exempt from the labeling requirements under the FAA Act and must comply with FDA labeling requirements, as well as the marking requirements of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (IRC), as amended.

* For more information on the FAA Act, see 27 U.S.C. 201, et seq.


EP9: How do I qualify as an alcohol beverage producer?

Learn about qualifying as a distilled spirits producer, you may submit an inquiry to the NRC or call toll free at 877-882-3277.

Learn about qualifying as a brewer, you may submit an inquiry to the NRC or call toll free at 877-882-3277.

Learn about qualifying a wine premises, you may submit an inquiry to the NRC or call toll free at 877-882-3277.

You also should contact State and local alcohol regulatory authorities to learn about State and local requirements.

 


EP14: Can I file a claim for the tax paid on the alcohol used to produce my extraction products if they are unfit for beverage purposes?

Drawback is the portion of excise taxes returned to the manufacturer of nonbeverage products when the tax-paid on the distilled spirits is used to produce approved products unfit for beverage purposes. If you use distilled spirits on which tax was paid to produce your extraction products, you may be able to apply for a drawback of a portion of those taxes. To apply for tax drawback, you must submit a formula on TTB Form 5154.1. To file a drawback claim submit TTB Form 5154.2 with the National Revenue Center.

See more information on Claiming Drawback on Taxpaid Distilled Spirits Used in Manufacturing Nonbeverage Products.

Drawback of tax only applies to domestically produced products. No drawback of tax will be allowed on imported products, and no drawback is allowed for taxpaid wine or beer.

 


EP2: Are extraction products alcohol beverages?

TTB's initial testing of extraction products in the marketplace revealed that all of the products tested had 0.5 percent or more alcohol by volume (ABV) which is the threshold alcohol content for products to be regulated as alcohol beverages, unless they are unfit for beverage purposes (See FAQ EP12). The extraction products tested ranged in alcohol content from 3.2 percent to 27.9 percent ABV. Testing by TTB revealed that many of the extraction products were fit for beverage purposes and subject to taxation and regulation, while some were found to be unfit for beverage purposes.

 


EP7: How will TTB classify extraction products that are considered alcohol beverages?

The tax classification of extraction products under the IRC will depend on the formulation and method of manufacture. The alcohol used in all of the extraction products tested by TTB was distilled spirits, and these FAQs address distilled spirits in greater detail than wine or beer. However, it is possible that extraction products could be manufactured with alcohol derived from fermentation, such as wine or beer. If distilled spirits are used in the formulation of the extraction product it will likely be classified as a distilled spirit. If wine is used in the formulation of the extraction product it will likely be classified as a wine and likewise if beer is used in the formulation of the extraction product it will likely be classified as a beer.

Manufacturers of extraction products may submit to the Alcohol Labeling and Formulation Division a formula providing detailed information about the ingredients used in their product, and the method of manufacture. This is necessary in order for us to advise producers about the classification of their products, possible qualification requirements, and potential labeling requirements.

 


EP12: How does TTB determine whether or not a product is unfit for beverage purposes?

TTB's Nonbeverage Products Laboratory has developed several tools and guidelines that limit subjectivity in determining if a product is unfit for beverage purposes.

To determine if an extraction product is unfit for beverage purposes, TTB may review the ingredients and formulation taking into account the presence of any flavor chemicals or other ingredients that would make the product unfit for beverage purposes.

Due to the extensive guidelines for nonbeverage product formulation, employing organoleptic tasting protocols to determine unfitness for beverage purposes is very rare. When used, it is for the purpose of determining whether the average person would mistake the product for an alcohol beverage.

  • See our guidance on how you can be certain your product is unfit for beverage purposes.
  • See our tools to help you decide which set of guidelines is relevant to your product.

 


EP5: Are the containers of extraction products required to bear a health warning statement?

The container of any alcohol beverage product sold or distributed in the United States with an alcohol content of 0.5 percent ABV or more must bear the health warning statement required by the Alcoholic Beverage Labeling Act of 1988 (ABLA).* This requirement applies regardless of whether the product is subject to the labeling requirements of the FAA Act.

* For more information on ABLA and the TTB regulation, see 27 U.S.C. 215 and 27 CFR part 16.

 


EP10: What Federal tax applies if my extraction product is an alcohol beverage?

The IRC at 26 U.S.C. 5001 imposes on all distilled spirits produced in or imported into the United States a tax at the rate of $13.50 on each proof gallon and a proportionate tax at the like rate on all fractional parts of a proof gallon.a proof gallon.

Information about taxes on wine can be found at 26 U.S.C. 5041, and information about taxes on beer can be found at 26 U.S.C. 5051.

 


EP3: What are TTB's recent actions regarding extraction products in the marketplace?

We have analyzed samples of extraction products in the marketplace and tested the samples for alcohol content and fitness for beverage purposes. We will work with producers, distributors, or importers of extraction products so that they may comply with law and regulations and ensure that their products are appropriately labeled. Our primary concern is that consumers be adequately informed about the nature of alcohol beverage products being marketed as something else, such as dietary supplements.

 


EP8: What requirements apply to my production of extraction products as alcohol beverages?

If you produce extraction products that contain 0.5 percent or more ABV and are found to be fit for beverage purposes, you are required to qualify as an alcohol beverage producer. Depending on the type of alcohol used in producing the extraction product you must qualify as a distilled spirits plant, qualify as a wine premises, or qualify as a brewer under 27 CFR part 19, 27 CFR part 24, or 27 CFR part 25 of the TTB regulations respectively. Extraction products that are determined to be alcohol beverages are also subject to excise taxes.

For example, if the extraction product is classified as distilled spirits, the regulations at 27 CFR 19.348 require the proprietor to file a formula on TTB Form 5100.51 that includes a quantitative list of ingredients and a description of the method of manufacture or process of production used to produce the spirits. You must remove your distilled spirits from your premises in containers that comply with the requirements for containers and marks under 27 CFR part 19, subpart S. The product also will be subject to FAA Act requirements and the labeling and advertising requirements of 27 CFR part 5, including standard liquor bottles and standards of fill.

Similar requirements under 27 CFR part 25 will apply if the extraction product is classified as a beer and 27 CFR part 7 will also apply if the extraction product is classified as a malt beverage as defined in the regulations. If the extraction product is classified as a wine, requirements under 27 CFR part 24 will apply and 27 CFR part 4 will apply if the extraction product is classified as a wine and has 7 percent or more ABV. This includes requirements for standard wine containers and standards of fill.

Wines with 7 percent or more ABV and distilled spirits are also subject to the standards of fill requirements at 27 CFR 4.72 and 5.203 respectively.

In addition, as previously noted, if your extraction product contains 0.5 percent or more ABV, your containers must bear the health warning statement, as outlined under 27 CFR part 16.

Last reviewed 9/28/2023

 


EP13: How can I ensure that my extraction product will not be considered an alcohol beverage?

One way to ensure that an extraction product will not be considered an alcohol beverage is to reduce the alcohol content of the product to less than 0.5 percent ABV in the final container used at retail either by diluting the product or eliminating the use of alcohol in the production process, either as an extraction agent or preservative.

If the alcohol content of the extraction product is 0.5 percent ABV or above and the extraction product is found to be fit for beverage purposes it must be reformulated to make it unfit for beverage purposes in order not to be considered an alcohol beverage. See FAQ EP12 for additional information on how products can be made unfit for beverage purposes.

If you have any questions about whether your product is unfit for beverage purposes, please submit an inquiry to TTB's Nonbeverage Products Laboratory.

 


Cider

CID19: May I label my cider with an appellation of origin?

TTB regulations at 27 CFR 4.25 permit fruit wine (including cider) to be labeled with an appellation of origin such as a country, State or county, assuming that certain conditions are met. However, only grape wine may be labeled with an appellation that is a viticultural area.

 


CID24: I add artificial raspberry flavor to my cider, which has an alcohol content of 6 percent alcohol by volume. Does the addition of this flavor affect the cider's eligibility for the hard cider tax rate?

Yes. Because the IRC provides that the hard cider tax rate under 26 U.S.C. 5041(b)(6) is not available to wines that contain a fruit product other than apple, a cider containing either natural or artificial fruit flavors (other than apple flavors) is not eligible for the hard cider tax rate of 22.6¢ per gallon. (See CID23.) Instead, a fruit-flavored cider would be taxed at the appropriate wine excise tax rate. (See CID21.)

Please note that non-fruit flavors such as spices or honey would not affect a cider's eligibility for the hard cider tax rate. You will need formula approval for this product because flavors have been added. (See CID28.)

 


CID29: What IRC labeling requirements apply to all cider and other wine removed from wine premises?

Although TTB's FAA Act wine labeling regulations in part 4 do not apply to wine that contains less than 7 percent alcohol by volume, IRC labeling requirements and TTB regulations at 27 CFR 24.257 apply to all wines that are removed from wine premises. Under these regulations, labels must include the following information:

  • Name and address of the wine premises;
  • Brand name;
  • Alcohol content;
  • Net contents of the container; and
  • Kind of wine, which means -
  •  
    • Class or type in accordance with 27 CFR Part 4; or
    • An adequate statement of composition for wines not subject to part 4. Statements of composition must include enough information to identify the tax class when viewed with the alcohol content.

Containers larger than 4 liters removed from the winery for consumption or sale must be labeled with this information as required by 27 CFR 24.259. The required information may be cut, printed, or otherwise legibly and durably marked upon the container or placed on a label or tag securely affixed to the container.

 


CID2: What products may be labeled as "cider" under the regulations implementing the Federal Alcohol Administration (FAA) Act?

The labeling regulations for wine set forth standards of identity for various classes of wine, including fruit wine. (See 27 CFR 4.21(e).) Under these regulations, "apple wine" or "cider" is a fruit wine produced by the normal alcoholic fermentation of the juice of sound, ripe apples. Cider must be derived wholly (except for sugar, water, or added alcohol) from apples.

The labeling of cider is subject to the regulations in 27 CFR part 4 only if the wine contains not less than 7 percent and not more than 24 percent alcohol by volume. Additional information about the standards of identity for cider and other fruit wines is contained in 27 CFR 4.21(e).

 


CID7: What are the labeling requirements for cider that contains not less than 7 percent alcohol by volume?

The label must meet the requirements of 27 CFR parts 4 and 16. This includes, but is not limited to, the following mandatory information on the label:

  • Brand name;
  • Class or type designation;
  • Name and address of the bottler or importer, as applicable;
  • Net contents of the container;
  • Alcohol content;
  • Sulfite statement, if applicable (Contains Sulfites); and
  • Health Warning Statement.

Other labeling statements may be required, in accordance with 27 CFR 4.32. Furthermore, all wines must be labeled and marked in accordance with IRC requirements in 27 CFR part 24 (for domestic wines), 27 CFR part 26 (for wines coming into the United States from Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands) or 27 CFR part 27 (for imported wines).

 


CID12: How do I designate a wine made from blending apple wine with blueberry wine, where the wine has not less than 7 percent alcohol by volume?

Under the regulations implementing the FAA Act, a wine made from blending apple wine with blueberry wine must be designated with a statement of composition under 27 CFR 4.34(a), such as "apple wine - blueberry wine" or "cider and blueberry wine." The wine may also be labeled with a fanciful name (such as "apple blueberry delight"). The fanciful name "blueberry cider" would not be approved because it is misleading as to the identity of the product.

Please note that this type of wine would require formula approval as an "other than standard" wine under 27 CFR 24.211. (See CID28 for information about obtaining formula approval.)

 


CID17: What is the difference between "sparkling" cider and "carbonated" cider?

A "sparkling wine" is made effervescent (containing more than 0.392 grams of carbon dioxide per 100 milliliters of wine) by carbon dioxide resulting solely from the secondary fermentation of the wine within a closed container, tank or bottle. A sparkling cider must be labeled either as "sparkling cider" or "sparkling apple wine." A wine made effervescent in any other way (such as injection of carbon dioxide) is considered artificially carbonated, and must be labeled as "carbonated" (for example, "carbonated cider" or "carbonated apple wine").

 


CID22: For tax purposes, what is the difference between "sparkling" cider and "artificially carbonated" cider?

A "sparkling wine" is made effervescent (containing more than 0.392 grams of carbon dioxide per 100 milliliters of wine) by carbon dioxide resulting solely from the secondary fermentation of the wine within a closed container, tank or bottle. A wine made effervescent in any other way (such as injection of carbon dioxide) is considered artificially carbonated. (See CID16 and CID17 for information about the labeling of these products.)

Please note that both sparkling ciders and carbonated ciders are not eligible for the hard cider tax rate provided by 26 U.S.C. 5041(b)(6) or for the exemption from tax provided by 26 U.S.C. 5042(a)(1). (See CID23 and CID25 for more information.)

 


CID27: We removed this FAQ because it was out-of-date.


CID32: How should I report kegs of cider and/or perry on my Report of Wine Premises Operations form (TTB F 5120.17)?

Report kegs of cider and/or perry on your Report of Wine Premises Operations form (TTB F 5120.17) based on the container size. (Containers include bottles, cans, boxes, and kegs.) See wine FAQ W29 for further guidance.

 


CID5: Is a health warning statement required on the container of an apple wine (cider) containing less than 7 percent alcohol by volume?

Yes. All alcohol beverages containing 0.5 percent or more alcohol by volume must be labeled with the health warning statement required by 27 U.S.C. 215 and 27 CFR part 16.

 


CID10: How do I designate a wine fermented from both apple juice and blueberry juice, where the wine has not less than 7 percent alcohol by volume?

Under the regulations implementing the FAA Act, a wine produced from the fermentation of apple juice and blueberry juice must be designated with a truthful and adequate statement of composition such as "apple-blueberry wine" or "blueberry cider." The designation "fruit wine" may appear in direct conjunction with the statement of composition. (See 27 CFR 4.21(e) for more information.)

Please note that this type of wine does not require formula approval as long as it is produced in accordance with the rules for natural fruit wine under 27 CFR part 24.

 


CID15: May I label my cider as "hard cider" even if it doesn't qualify for the hard cider tax rate under 26 U.S.C. 5041(b)(6)?

Yes. If your wine has not less than 7 percent alcohol by volume, and it complies with the standards of identity for "cider" under 27 CFR 4.21(e)(5), it may be labeled as either "cider" or "hard cider." Pursuant to 27 CFR 4.32 and 4.36, the wine must also be labeled with a numerical statement of alcohol content (unless it has no more than 14 percent alcohol by volume and it is designated as a "fruit table wine" or an "apple table wine") - this labeling information will adequately convey that the product is not eligible for the "hard cider" tax rate.

If your wine is not subject to the FAA Act labeling requirements, it must still be labeled in accordance with the regulations at 27 CFR 24.257(a)(4)(iv) before removal from wine premises. These regulations require the wine to be labeled with the class or type of wine or with a statement of composition that, when viewed with the alcohol content, gives enough information to adequately identify the tax class of the wine. For example, a still wine that is labeled "hard cider with natural raspberry flavor" and "6 percent alcohol by volume" is adequately marked to identify the wine's tax class, because the raspberry flavor makes it ineligible for the hard cider tax rate.

 


CID20: Do TTB's standards of fill apply to cider? May I sell my cider in 12 fl. oz. bottles or in kegs?

Yes, TTB's standards of fill apply to cider and all other wine products that contain 7 percent or more alcohol by volume.  Producers, importers, and wholesalers are prohibited from selling or shipping, or delivering for sale or shipment, or otherwise introducing in interstate commerce, wine that is not bottled or packed in container sizes that are authorized as a standard of fill. (See 27 CFR 4.70.)

An authorized standard of fill for wine is 355 milliliters (mL), which is the equivalent metric volume of twelve fluid ounces (12 fl. oz.). (See 27 CFR 4.72.)  If you sell wine that contains 7 percent or more alcohol by volume in twelve fluid ounce containers, the label must state the net contents as “355 mL.” The statement “355 mL (12 fl. oz.)” also would be acceptable.  (See 27 CFR 4.37.)

In addition, wine may be packed in kegs as long as the keg conforms to one of the standards of fill. However, wine packed in containers of 18 liters or more does not need to comply with standards of fill requirements. (See 27 CFR 4.70(b)(2).)

If wine contains less than 7 percent alcohol by volume, the standards of fill in 27 CFR part 4 do not apply.

Updated as of August 2, 2022:  This FAQ was updated to reflect regulatory amendments issued under T.D. TTB-165.

 


CID25: What type of cider is exempt from Federal excise taxes on wine under 26 U.S.C. 5042(a)(1)?

The IRC provides a tax exemption for certain ciders as outlined in 26 U.S.C. 5042(a)(1) and 27 CFR 24.76. This is an extremely limited exemption that was intended to allow an exemption from the wine tax for farmers and growers who produced fermented cider for sale at roadside stands.

To qualify for this exemption, cider must meet all of the following criteria:

  • The cider must be produced solely from the noneffervescent fermentation of apple juice. Sugars, syrups or concentrate may not be added to tax exempt cider. Any cider that is effervescent (containing more than 0.392 grams of carbon dioxide per 100 ml) is not eligible for the exemption from tax;
  • The cider must be made without the use of any preservative methods or materials (such as the use of pasteurization or the addition of sulfites);
  • The cider must be produced at a place other than a bonded wine premises; and

The cider must be sold or offered for sale as cider and not as wine or a substitute for wine.

 


CID30: Do I need to obtain a permit from TTB to produce apple wine (cider) for commercial purposes?

Yes. If you are producing wine (including cider) that is at least 0.5 percent alcohol by volume for commercial purposes, you must first establish winery premises, obtain a bond, and receive permission from TTB to operate. (See 27 CFR part 24, subpart D.)  In addition, the FAA Act requires that anyone wishing to engage in the business of producing or blending wine (including cider) that contains not less than 7 percent alcohol by volume must first obtain a basic permit from TTB. (See 27 CFR part 1.) A basic permit under the FAA Act is not required for producers who only make wine that is less than 7 percent alcohol by volume. For more information on qualification requirements, The Federal Application Process for the Wine Industry.

If you produce only tax-exempt cider that satisfies all of the requirements of 26 U.S.C. 5042(a)(1), and 27 CFR 24.76 you are not required to qualify as a bonded wine premises. (See CID25 for more information about these requirements.)

 


CID3: Do I need to obtain a Certificate of Label Approval (COLA) for my cider?

The FAA Act generally requires that a bottler obtain a certificate of label approval (COLA) from TTB prior to bottling wine. A bottler may obtain a certificate of exemption from label approval from TTB upon establishing that the wine will not be sold, shipped, or otherwise introduced in interstate or foreign commerce. Importers are required to obtain a COLA from TTB prior to removing wine in containers from customs custody for consumption.

The FAA Act and its implementing regulations do not apply to wine that contains less than 7 percent alcohol by volume; thus, cider with an alcohol content of less than 7 percent alcohol by volume is not subject to the COLA requirement. However, please note that all wine removed from wine premises is subject to TTB wine labeling requirements contained in 27 CFR 24.257 (or 27 CFR 24.259 for containers larger than 4 liters). (See CID 4 and CID 5 for more information about the labeling of wines containing less than 7 percent alcohol by volume.)

 


CID8: May I label my wine made exclusively from pears as "pear cider"?

If the pear wine contains not less than 7 percent alcohol by volume and is made exclusively (except for sugar, water, or added alcohol) from pears, it may not be labeled as "pear cider." As noted in CID2, wines designated as "cider" under 27 CFR 4.21(e) must be derived wholly (except for sugar, water, or added alcohol) from apples. The regulations provide that wine that is derived wholly (except for sugar, water, or added alcohol) from pears must be designated as either "pear wine" or as "perry."

The labeling of perry is subject to the regulations in part 4 only if the wine contains not less than 7 percent and not more than 24 percent alcohol by volume. Additional information about the standards of identity for perry and other fruit wines are contained in 27 CFR 4.21(e).

 


CID13: May I add flavoring materials, such as honey, spices, natural flavors, or artificial flavors, to my cider?

If you add flavoring materials to apple wine, the resulting product may be a special natural wine or an "other than standard" wine under the Internal Revenue Code (IRC), depending on how it is formulated. A proprietor of wine premises must obtain formula approval before producing either type of wine, even if the wine has less than 7 percent alcohol by volume. (See CID28 for information about formulas and CID14 for information on the labeling of flavored wines.)

 


CID18: Are effervescent wines subject to different tax rates from still wines?

Under the IRC, sparkling and artificially carbonated wines are subject to higher rates of tax than still wine. (See CID21 for more information about the tax rates.)

Furthermore, sparkling and carbonated ciders are not eligible for the hard cider tax rate provided by 26 U.S.C. 5041(b)(6) or for the exemption from tax provided by 26 U.S.C. 5042(a)(1). (See CID23 and CID25 for more information.)

 


CID23: What are the tax rates for "hard cider" under 26 U.S.C. 5041(b)(6)?

The IRC provides a tax rate of 22.6¢ per wine gallon for "hard cider" that meets specific statutory criteria. To qualify for this tax rate, hard cider must be a still wine derived primarily from apples or apple concentrate and water, containing no other fruit product, and containing at least 0.5 percent and less than 8.5 percent alcohol by volume.  (See 26 U.S.C. 5041(b)(6))

The regulations at 27 CFR 24.10 set forth a definition of "hard cider" that is eligible for the hard cider tax rate of 22.6¢ per gallon. Under the law and regulations, cider must meet all of the following criteria in order to qualify for the "hard cider" tax rate:

  • The cider must be a still wine. This means it must contain no more than 0.64 gram of carbon dioxide per hundred milliliters of wine. Effervescent cider (including sparkling and carbonated cider) is not eligible for the hard cider tax rate;
  • The wine must be derived primarily from apples or apple concentrate and water. This means that apple juice, or the equivalent amount of concentrate reconstituted to the original brix of the juice prior to concentration, must represent more than 50 percent of the volume of the finished product;
  • The wine must contain no other fruit product (such as juice from a fruit other than apples); nor may it contain any artificial product that imparts a fruit flavor other than apple (such as an artificial pear or blueberry flavor);
  • The wine must contain at least 0.5 percent but less than 8.5 percent alcohol by volume. Any wine containing 8.5 percent or more alcohol by volume is not eligible for the hard cider tax rate;
  • The wine must have the taste, aroma, and characteristics generally attributed to hard cider; and
  • The wine must be sold or offered for sale as hard cider.

(See CID15 for information about using the designation "hard cider" on labels.)

 


CID28: Do I need to obtain TTB formula approval before producing cider or other fruit wine?

No formula approval is required to produce natural cider or other natural fruit wine, even if the wine is fermented from the juice of different fruits. A "natural" wine is the product of the juice or must of sound, ripe fruit (including berries) made with any cellar treatment authorized by Subparts F and L of part 24 and containing not more than 21 percent by weight (21 degrees Brix dealcoholized wine) of total solids. (See 27 CFR 24.10.) However, TTB formula approval is required for:

  • Wine produced by blending two finished fruit wines together (for example, apple wine and pear wine);
  • Wine with added flavors or spices; and
  • Wine made with excess sugar and/or water or other cellar treatments not authorized for natural wine in Subparts F and L of part 24.

Additional information about obtaining TTB formula approval may be found on TTB's formulation Web page.

 


CID1: What is "cider"?

When used generally in these FAQs, the terms "cider" and "hard cider" refer to wine fermented from apples (including apple juice or concentrate). However, the terms have different meanings under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (IRC) and the Federal Alcohol Administration Act (FAA Act), as set forth further in these FAQs.

 


CID6: Under the Federal Alcohol Administration (FAA) Act labeling regulations, is there a difference between "apple wine" and "cider"?

The labeling regulations allow either the term "apple wine" or "cider" as the designation for apple wine that complies with the standards of identity set forth in 27 CFR 4.21(e)(5). You may also designate this product as "apple cider." Furthermore, the terms may be used interchangeably as part of a statement of composition for a wine specialty product (for example, "apple wine with natural blueberry flavor" or "cider with natural blueberry flavor").

 


CID11: How do I designate a wine made from blending apple wine with pear wine, where the wine has not less than 7 percent alcohol by volume?

Under the regulations implementing the FAA Act, a wine made from blending apple wine with pear wine must be designated with a statement of composition under 27 CFR 4.34(a), such as "apple wine - pear wine" or "cider - perry." The wine may also be labeled with a fanciful name (such as "apple pear delight"). The fanciful name "apple perry" or "pear cider" would not be approved because it is misleading as to the identity of the product.

Please note that this type of wine would require formula approval as an "other than standard" wine under 27 CFR 24.211. (See CID28 for information about obtaining formula approval.)

 


CID16: Do special labeling requirements apply to effervescent cider?

Yes. An effervescent wine is a wine that contains more than 0.392 grams of carbon dioxide per 100 milliliters. See 27 CFR 24.10. Under 27 CFR 4.21(e)(5) and 27 CFR 24.257, effervescent cider must be labeled as "sparkling" or "carbonated," as appropriate. (See CID17 for more information.)

 


CID21: What are the Federal excise tax rates for cider?

Ciders that are not subject to the special rules set forth in CID23 or CID25 are taxed at the appropriate wine excise tax rate. The following are the basic tax classification categories for wine:

Still wine (containing not more than 0.392 grams of carbon dioxide per 100 milliliters):

  • Not more than 16 percent alcohol by volume: $1.07 per wine gallon
  • Over 16 and not more than 21 percent alcohol by volume: $1.57 per wine gallon
  • Over 21 and not more than 24 percent alcohol by volume: $3.15 per wine gallon

Effervescent wine (containing more than 0.392 grams of carbon dioxide per 100 milliliters):

  • Artificially Carbonated Wine: $3.30 per wine gallon
  • Sparkling Wine: $3.40 per wine gallon

Last reviewed/updated 02/03/2015

 


CID26: We removed this FAQ because it was out-of-date.


CID31: I import wine (including cider). What TTB requirements apply to my operations?

If you import wine (including cider) that contains not less than 7 percent alcohol by volume, you must:

If you also import wine (including cider) that contains at least 0.5 percent alcohol by volume and less than 7 percent alcohol by volume, the following requirements apply:

You do not need to obtain an Importer's Basic Permit if you import only wine that contains less than 7 percent alcohol by volume. Additional information regarding the importation of alcohol beverages into the U.S. may be found on the International Affairs Division Web page.

 


CID4: Do Food and Drug Administration (FDA) food labeling requirements apply to cider containing less than 7 percent alcohol by volume?

Yes. While a TTB COLA is not required for wines containing less than 7 percent alcohol by volume, these wines must comply with applicable FDA food labeling requirements, including ingredient labeling, nutrient labeling, and allergen labeling requirements.

 


CID9: How do I designate a wine fermented from both apple juice and pear juice, where the wine has not less than 7 percent alcohol by volume?

Under the regulations implementing the FAA Act, a wine produced from the fermentation of apple juice and pear juice must be designated with a truthful and adequate statement of composition such as "apple-pear wine," "apple perry," or "pear cider." The designation "fruit wine" may appear in direct conjunction with the statement of composition. (See 27 CFR 4.21(e) for more information.)

Please note that this type of wine does not require formula approval as long as it is produced in accordance with the rules for natural fruit wine under 27 CFR part 24.

 


CID14: How do I designate a wine made from apple wine that has been flavored with honey, spices, natural flavors or artificial flavors?

Under the labeling regulations that implement the FAA Act, this type of wine may not be designated as simply "cider" because it no longer meets the standards of identity set forth in 27 CFR 4.21(e). Instead, it must be labeled with a statement of composition in accordance with 27 CFR 4.22(a) and 27 CFR 4.34. As part of the formula approval, TTB will provide a suggested statement of composition for the product designation, such as "cider with artificial and natural blueberry flavors" or "apple cider with honey and spices." If you wish, you may also label the wine with a fanciful name but this name may not be misleading as to the identity of the product. Accordingly, the fanciful name "blueberry cider" would not be approved for an apple wine with natural blueberry flavor.

If your flavored wines contains less than 7 percent alcohol by volume, the labeling regulations in 27 CFR part 4 do not apply; instead, FDA food labeling rules apply.

 


Honey Wine (Mead)

HW19: Does the IRC allow me to produce honey wine that is not a standard agricultural wine?

If you wish to add coloring or flavoring materials (other than hops) to a honey wine base, or if you wish to blend honey wine with other wine, you must first obtain approval of a formula for an "other than standard" (OTS) wine under the IRC. (See 27 CFR 24.218.) (Also see HW10 and HW14 for information about the labeling of such products.)

 


HW24: We removed this FAQ because it was out-of-date.


HW2: What is "honey wine" under the FAA Act labeling regulations?

Under the regulations implementing the labeling provisions of the Federal Alcohol Administration Act (FAA Act), the standards of identity for wine made from the fermentation of agricultural products other than fruit are set forth in 27 CFR 4.21(f). Pursuant to these regulations, a product designated as "honey wine" must be derived wholly (except for sugar, water, or added alcohol) from honey. Wines designated as "honey wine" under 27 CFR part 4 also may contain hops, consistent with the levels set forth in part 24. TTB allows the designation "mead" to be used in lieu of "honey wine." (See HW6.)

Certain wines fermented from honey that do not meet the standards of identity under § 4.21(f) fall under the standards set forth in 27 CFR 4.21(h), and thus must be designated as "imitation" or "other than standard" (OTS) wines. Other specialty products do not fall under any of the standards of identity in part 4 and must be designated with a truthful and adequate statement of composition. (See 27 CFR 4.34(a).)

 


HW7: What are the labeling requirements for honey wine that contains not less than 7 percent alcohol by volume?

The label must meet the requirements of 27 CFR parts 4 and 16. This includes, but is not limited to, the following mandatory information on the label:

  • Brand name;
  • Class or type designation;
  • Name and address of the bottler or importer, as applicable;
  • Net contents of the container;
  • Alcohol content;
  • Sulfite statement, if applicable (Contains Sulfites); and
  • Health Warning Statement.

Other labeling statements may be required, in accordance with 27 CFR 4.32. Furthermore, all wines containing at least 0.5 percent alcohol by volume must be labeled and marked in accordance with IRC requirements in 27 CFR part 24 (for domestic wines), 27 CFR part 26 (for wines coming into the United States from Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands) or 27 CFR part 27 (for imported wines).

 


HW12: What is the difference between "sparkling" honey wine and "carbonated" honey wine?

A "sparkling wine" is made effervescent (containing more than 0.392 grams of carbon dioxide per 100 milliliters of wine) by carbon dioxide resulting solely from the secondary fermentation of the wine within a closed container, tank or bottle. A sparkling honey wine must be labeled either as "sparkling mead" or "sparkling honey wine." A wine made effervescent in any other way (such as injection of carbon dioxide) is considered artificially carbonated, and must be labeled as "carbonated" (for example, "carbonated mead" or "carbonated honey wine").

 


HW17: What are the production standards under 27 CFR part 24 for standard honey wine produced in the United States?

TTB regulations at 27 CFR 24.203 state that the following may be added in the production of standard honey wine:

  • Water to facilitate fermentation, provided the density of the honey and water mixture is not reduced below 13 degrees Brix;
  • Hops in quantities not to exceed one pound for each 1,000 pounds of honey; and
  • Pure, dry sugar or honey for sweetening. Sugar may be added only after fermentation is completed.

After complete fermentation or complete fermentation and sweetening, the wine may not have an alcohol content of more than 14 percent by volume or a total solids content that exceeds 35 degrees Brix.

 


HW22: What are the Federal excise tax rates for wine?

For more information, see Tax and Fee Rates.


HW27: I would like to blend honey wine (mead) and beer. Is that permitted under TTB regulations?

No. Under Federal law and TTB regulations, the blending of wine (including mead) and beer is not an authorized operation at a winery (see 27 CFR 24.101) or a brewery (see 27 CFR 25.23). Under TTB regulations, beer must be brewed from malt or from a substitute for malt. However, a brewer may use honey as an adjunct in the fermentation of beer on brewery premises, subject to the regulations in part 25. (See 27 CFR 25.15(a).)

 


HW5: Is a health warning statement required on the container of a honey wine containing less than 7 percent alcohol by volume?

Yes. All alcohol beverages containing 0.5 percent or more alcohol by volume must be labeled with the health warning statement required by 27 U.S.C. 215 and 27 CFR part 16.

 


HW10: What is the appropriate designation for a product consisting of honey wine blended with fruit wine (such as blueberry wine)?

This product does not fall under any of the standards of identity in 27 CFR part 4, and thus must be labeled with a truthful and adequate statement of composition, such as "blueberry wine – honey wine," "blueberry wine and honey wine" or "blueberry wine – mead." In this instance, TTB would not approve a label with the term "blueberry mead" as either a fanciful name or as a designation because it would be misleading as to the identity of the wine.

 


HW15: May I label my honey wine with an appellation of origin?

TTB regulations at 27 CFR 4.25 permit wine (including an agricultural wine that falls under the standards of identity in 27 CFR 4.21(f)) to be labeled with an appellation of origin such as a country, State or county, assuming that certain conditions are met. However, only grape wine may be labeled with an appellation that is a viticultural area.

 


HW20: What IRC labeling requirements apply to all honey wine removed from bonded wine premises?

Although TTB's FAA Act wine labeling regulations in 27 CFR part 4 do not apply to wine that contains less than 7 percent alcohol by volume, IRC labeling requirements and TTB regulations at 27 CFR 24.257 apply to all wines removed from wine premises. Under TTB regulations, labels must include the following information:

  • Name and address of the wine premises;
  • Brand name;
  • Alcohol content;
  • Net contents of the container; and
  • Kind of wine, which means –
    • Class or type in accordance with part 4; or
    • An adequate statement of composition for wines not subject to part 4. Statements of composition must include enough information to identify the tax class when viewed with the alcohol content.

Containers larger than 4 liters removed from the winery for consumption or sale must be labeled with this information as required by 27 CFR 24.259. The required information may be cut, printed, or otherwise legibly and durably marked upon the container or placed on a label or tag securely affixed to the container.

 


HW25: I import honey wine. What TTB requirements apply to my operations?

If you import honey wine (mead) that contains not less than 7 percent alcohol by volume, you must:

If you also import wine (including mead) that is at least 0.5 percent alcohol by volume and less than 7 percent alcohol by volume, the following requirements apply:

  • Label the wine in accordance with all applicable FDA food labeling requirements;
  • Label the wine with the Health Warning Statement required by 27 CFR part 16;
  • Pay the appropriate excise tax rate (see HW 22);
  • Label the wine in accordance with 27 CFR part 27.

You do not need to obtain an Importer's Basic Permit if you import only wine that contains less than 7 percent alcohol by volume. Additional information regarding the importation of alcohol beverages into the U.S. may be found on the International Affairs Division webpage.

 


HW3: Do I need to obtain a Certificate of Label Approval (COLA) for my mead?

The FAA Act generally requires that a bottler obtain a certificate of label approval (COLA) from TTB prior to bottling wine. A bottler may obtain a certificate of exemption from label approval from TTB upon establishing that the wine will not be sold, shipped, or otherwise introduced in interstate or foreign commerce. Importers are required to obtain a COLA from TTB prior to removing wine in containers from customs custody for consumption.

The FAA Act and its implementing regulations do not apply to wine that contains less than 7 percent alcohol by volume; thus mead with an alcohol content of less than 7 percent alcohol by volume is not subject to the COLA requirement. However, please note that all wine removed from wine premises is subject to TTB wine labeling requirements contained in 27 CFR 24.257 (or 27 CFR 24.259 for containers larger than 4 liters). (See HW4 and HW5 for more information about the labeling of these wines.)

 


HW8: How do I label a standard agricultural wine that is fermented from both honey and another agricultural product?

A wine fermented from more than one agricultural product (for example, a wine that is fermented from both honey and rhubarb) may not be designated as "honey wine" or "mead" under TTB regulations. Instead, the wine must be designated with a truthful and adequate statement of composition, such as "rhubarb-honey wine" or "rhubarb mead." (See 27 CFR 4.21(f)(6).)

 


HW13: Are effervescent wines subject to different tax rates from still wines?

Under the IRC, sparkling and artificially carbonated wines are subject to higher rates of tax than still wine. (See HW22 and HW23 for more information about the tax rates).

 


HW18: Do I need to obtain TTB formula approval before producing standard honey wine?

All domestically produced agricultural wines, including honey wine, are subject to the formula requirements in 27 CFR 24.201. However, in TTB Ruling 2016-2 TTB approved general-use formulas for certain standard agricultural wines made from honey, dried fruit, or certain other agricultural products listed in the ruling and produced in accordance with the standards set forth in 27 CFR 24, subpart I. As a result, a person producing honey wine in accordance with 27 CFR §§ 24.200 and 24.203 is granted approval of a general-use formula and does not need to submit a formula to TTB. As provided in § 24.200, standard agricultural honey wine may not be colored or flavored (except that hops may be used as outlined in § 24.203), may not contain added spirits, and may not consist of wine made from one agricultural product that is blended with wine made from another agricultural product. Section 24.203 contains limitations on the use of sugar and water in the production of standard honey wine. Producers of honey wines that are not made in accordance with these regulatory standards must still submit a formula to TTB. Please see TTB Ruling 2016-2 for additional information.

 


HW23: For tax purposes, what is the difference between "sparkling" wine and "artificially carbonated" wine?

A "sparkling wine" is made effervescent (containing more than 0.392 grams of carbon dioxide per 100 milliliters of wine) by carbon dioxide resulting solely from the secondary fermentation of the wine within a closed container, tank or bottle. A wine made effervescent in any other way (such as injection of carbon dioxide) is considered artificially carbonated. (See HW11 and HW12 for information about the labeling of these products.)

 


HW28: May I label a malt beverage fermented from honey and malted barley as "mead"?

No. Because "mead" is viewed as a synonym for "honey wine," it is TTB's position that the term may not be used as a designation for a malt beverage. The term "braggot" may be used as additional information on the label of such a product, but it would not suffice as the designation by itself. (See TTB Ruling 2015-1 for more information about the appropriate designation of malt beverages made with honey.)

 


HW1: What is "honey wine" under the IRC?

Honey wine is classified under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (IRC), as an "agricultural wine." Agricultural wine is made from the fermentation of an agricultural product other than the juice of fruit. (See 27 CFR 24.200 and 24.203.) The production standards under 27 CFR part 24 for honey wine apply only to domestic products.

The IRC does not allow for the use of coloring or flavoring materials (other than hops) in standard honey wine. (See 26 U.S.C. 5387 and HW14 for more information.) Furthermore, wine spirits may not be added to standard honey wine, and standard honey wine may not contain more than 14 percent alcohol by volume. The IRC does provide for the production of wine specialty products that are made from a base of honey wine. These products are not standard agricultural wines, but are instead classified under the IRC regulations as "other than standard" (OTS) wines. (See 27 CFR 24.218.)

 


HW6: Under the FAA Act labeling regulations, is there a difference between "honey wine" and "mead"?

For labeling purposes, it is TTB's policy to allow either the term "honey wine" or "mead" as the designation for honey wine that complies with the standards of identity for honey wine set forth in 27 CFR 4.21(f). Furthermore, the terms may be used interchangeably as part of a statement of composition for a wine specialty product (for example, "honey wine with natural cherry flavor" or "mead with natural cherry flavor").

 


HW11: Do special labeling requirements apply to effervescent honey wine?

Yes. An effervescent wine is a wine that contains more than 0.392 grams of carbon dioxide per 100 milliliters. (See 27 CFR 24.10.) Under 27 CFR 4.21(f)(6) and 27 CFR 24.257, effervescent honey wine must be labeled as "sparkling" or "carbonated," as appropriate. (See HW12 for more information.)

 


HW16: Do TTB's standards of fill apply to mead? May I sell my mead in 12 fl. oz. bottles or in kegs?

Yes, TTB's standards of fill apply to mead and all other wine products that contain 7 percent or more alcohol by volume.  Producers, importers, and wholesalers are prohibited from selling or shipping, or delivering for sale or shipment, or otherwise introducing in interstate commerce, wine that is not bottled or packed in container sizes that are authorized as a standard of fill. (See 27 CFR 4.70.)

An authorized standard of fill for wine is 355 milliliters (mL), which is the equivalent metric volume of twelve fluid ounces (12 fl. oz.). (See 27 CFR 4.72.)  If you sell wine that contains 7 percent or more alcohol by volume in twelve fluid ounce containers, the label must state the net contents as “355 mL.”  The statement “355 mL (12 fl. oz.)” also would be acceptable.  (See 27 CFR 4.37.)

In addition, wine may be packed in kegs as long as the keg conforms to one of the standards of fill. However, wine packed in containers of 18 liters or more does not need to comply with standards of fill requirements. (See 27 CFR 4.70(b)(2).)

If wine contains less than 7 percent alcohol by volume, the standards of fill in 27 CFR part 4 do not apply.

Updated as of August 2, 2022:  This FAQ was updated to reflect regulatory amendments issued under T.D. TTB-165.

 


HW21: Do I need to obtain a permit from TTB to produce honey wine (mead) for commercial purposes?

Yes. If you are producing wine (including mead) that is at least 0.5 percent alcohol by volume for commercial purposes, you must first establish winery premises, obtain a bond, and receive permission from TTB to operate. (See 27 CFR part 24, subpart D.) In addition, the FAA Act requires that anyone wishing to engage in the business of producing or blending wine (including mead) that contains not less than 7 percent alcohol by volume must first obtain a basic permit from TTB. (See 27 CFR part 1.) A basic permit under the FAA Act is not required for producers who only make wine that is less than 7 percent alcohol by volume. For more information on qualification requirements, see https://www.ttb.gov/wine/federal-application-process.

 


HW26: May a brewer produce honey wine (mead) on brewery premises?

No. TTB regulations at 27 CFR 25.23 do not permit the production of wine (including mead) on brewery premises. However, brewers may apply to TTB for permission to alternate the use of a portion of the brewery with a winery premises as outlined in 27 CFR 25.81.

 


HW4: Do Food and Drug Administration (FDA) food labeling requirements apply to honey wine containing less than 7 percent alcohol by volume?

Yes. While a TTB COLA is not required for wines containing less than 7 percent alcohol by volume, such wines must comply with applicable FDA food labeling requirements, including ingredient labeling, nutrient labeling, and allergen labeling requirements.

 


HW9: How do I label a wine that is fermented from both honey and a fruit juice?

A wine fermented from both fruit juice and an agricultural product does not fall within any of the standards of identity in 27 CFR part 4. This type of wine must be designated with a truthful and adequate statement of composition in accordance with 27 CFR 4.34, such as "cherry-honey wine" or "cherry mead." The wine also may be labeled with a distinctive or fanciful name, such as "Cherry bee."

 


HW14: May I add coloring or flavoring materials to my honey wine?

If you add coloring or flavoring materials (other than hops) to honey wine, the product is no longer a standard agricultural wine under the IRC. (See 26 U.S.C. 5387(b) and 27 CFR 24.200.) Furthermore, the product is no longer a "honey wine" under the FAA Act labeling regulations. However, you may produce a wine specialty product by adding flavoring and coloring materials to a base of honey wine. Because the product does not fall under any of the standards of identity set out in 27 CFR part 4, it must be designated with a truthful and adequate statement of composition, such as "honey wine with natural ginger flavor" or "mead with natural cherry flavor." The wine also may be labeled with a distinctive or fanciful name (such as "cherry honey delight"). In this case, TTB would not approve a label with a term such as "cherry mead" as either a fanciful name or a designation because it would be misleading as to the identity of the wine. However, a name such as "cherry-flavored mead" would be acceptable as the fanciful name, as long as an appropriate statement of composition appears as the designation.

 


Shelf Schematics

SSQ1: Why was TTB Ruling 2016-1 issued?

TTB issued Ruling 2016-1 in response to complaints from a number of industry members who expressed concerns over potential abuse of the narrow Tied-House exception provided for in 27 CFR 6.99(b), which removes only the act of providing a recommended shelf plan or shelf schematic from the prohibited means to induce enumerated in 27 U.S.C. 205(b)(3).  As a result of these complaints, TTB conducted a limited market review pertaining to traditional “category management” activities and the concerns that were brought to its attention.  As a result of its market review, TTB found that there is a misunderstanding about what activities are permitted under the § 6.99(b) exception.  Accordingly, TTB issued TTB Ruling 2016-1 to clarify what is and is not exempted under such exception. 

 


SSQ6: In TTB Ruling 2016-1, what does TTB mean by “[h]owever, as revealed by TTB’s review of industry practices, some industry members do not offer a mere shelving plan alone but also include additional services, sometimes of significant value, that exceed the 27 CFR 6.99(b) exception’s plain language.”

During its review of industry practices, TTB found services being provided to retailers that are not specifically exempted under part 6, subpart D of the TTB regulations.  (27 CFR part 6, subpart D).  Industry members should read the Tied-House regulations to determine if the activities, services or items of value they furnish retailers are specifically exempted under subpart D.  If not specifically exempted, then such activities, services or items of value constitute inducements.

 


SSQ11: Can an industry member provide follow-up services (such as communicating with the retailer’s stores, vendors, representatives, wholesalers, and suppliers concerning daily operational matters such as store resets, add and delete item lists, advertisements and promotions) in order to monitor and revise a schematic?

There is no subpart D exception authorizing industry members to monitor (or assist in monitoring) the retailer’s compliance with a shelf plan on behalf of a retailer.

 


SSQ4: Are there certain services or things of value that are not considered inducements under the Tied-House regulations?

Subject to specific recordkeeping requirements, the subpart D exceptions found in 27 CFR part 6 that allow industry members to provide a recommended shelf plan also generally authorize providing certain other things of value, such as:

  • Product displays not to exceed $300 per brand.
  • Point of sale/consumer advertising items such as posters, coasters, paper napkins, foam scrapers, calendars, ash trays, cork screws, shirts and caps.
  • Consumer coupons and direct contests.
  • Consumer tastings and samplings.

Providing a service or thing of value to a retailer that is not specifically exempted under the 27 CFR part 6 subpart D exceptions, constitutes an inducement under the Tied-House provisions.

 


SSQ9: Can an industry member receive and analyze confidential and/or proprietary competitor information on behalf of the retailer?

No subpart D exception authorizes analysis of retailer or competitor information (on behalf of the retailer) that is confidential/proprietary and not made available to all industry members on the same terms.  Accordingly, TTB considers such services a thing of value, and therefore an inducement, whether or not they ultimately result in furnishing a recommended schematic to the retailer.

  • Example – Under a retailer-initiated program, competing industry members’ sales data, planned promotions, new products, or product pricing are shared with one industry member, which uses that information (in whole or in part) to create and provide the retailer with a recommended shelf plan. 

     
  • Example – Under an industry member-initiated program, retailer information (such as confidential retailer sales goals and expectations or retailer proprietary sales data) is shared with only one industry member, which uses such data (in whole or in part) to create and provide the retailer with a recommended shelf plan.

 


SSQ2: Why didn’t TTB issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking?

It was not necessary.  TTB Ruling 2016-1 merely provides guidance as to the plain meaning of the existing regulation under 27 CFR 6.99(b).  It does not change TTB’s longstanding position, nor does it change the meaning of the plain language of this regulatory exception.

 


SSQ7: Are any of the five examples listed in TTB Ruling 2016-1 red light activities or are they all yellow light activities?

The terms “red light” and “yellow light” are neither used nor defined in the FAA Act or TTB’s Tied-House regulations.

The five examples of additional services (which are not all inclusive) described in TTB Ruling 2016-1 are not exempted by 27 CFR 6.99(b). Such services therefore constitute inducements within the meaning of section 105(b)(3) of the FAA Act.

In order to determine if the retailer’s independence is at risk, TTB would first determine if an inducement has been given to the retailer. It would then evaluate, in their entirety, all of the industry member’s practices/activities with the retailer and determine if they meet the requirements outlined in 27 CFR 6.152 (Practices which put retailer independence at risk) and/or 6.153 (Criteria for determining retailer independence).  TTB makes these determinations on a case-by-case basis.

A Federal Tied-House violation will exist if all of the elements of a violation are present.  This includes an industry member providing a retailer with a prohibited inducement that results in exclusion of competitor products, in whole or in part, such that the retailer’s independence is at risk, with the requisite connection to interstate or foreign commerce, and (in the case of malt beverages only) a similar State law.

 


SSQ12: Can an industry member furnish a retailer with human resources to perform functions/activities other than stocking, rotation or pricing the industry member’s own product, as permitted in § 6.99(a) of the TTB regulations?

If an industry member furnishes human resources to perform any function on behalf of the retailer that is not specifically exempted by the Tied-House regulations, such services constitute an inducement.  Industry members should carefully read the Tied-House regulations and determine if any contemplated activities, services or items of value are specifically exempted under subpart D.  If not specifically exempted then the activities, services or items of value constitute inducements.  If such practice results in exclusion of competitor products, in whole or in part, such that the retailer’s independence is at risk, with the requisite connection to interstate or foreign commerce, and if (in the case of malt beverages only) there is a similar State law, the practice would violate the FAA Act.

 


SSQ5: What does TTB mean when it says in Ruling 2016-1 "This Ruling illustrates what a shelf plan or shelf schematic is, and is not, relative to the exception in 27 CFR 6.99(b). A shelf plan or shelf schematic provided under this exception is a simple sales tool offering options as to how an industry member thinks a retailer’s shelves should appear.”

The TTB regulations at 27 CFR 6.99(b) state that the act by an industry member of providing a “recommended” shelf plan or shelf schematic for distilled spirits, wine, or malt beverages does not constitute a means to induce within the meaning of section 105(b)(3) of the Act.

In any potential investigation, TTB will look in part to determine if shelf plans or schematics are being provided as mere recommendations (authorized under the subpart D exceptions) or the de facto ultimate plan adopted by the retailer as a result of a unique relationship between it and the submitting industry member.  In the latter scenario, TTB may argue the submitting industry member’s schematic does not qualify for the section 6.99(b) exception.

 


SSQ10: Can an industry member furnish retailers with items of value, including market data from third party vendors?

While TTB realizes industry members often purchase and use third-party market data to assist their creation of a recommended schematic, there is no subpart D exception that authorizes sharing with or giving to retailers such information in any format other than the ultimate shelf schematic recommended by the industry member.  It is up to the retailer (and not the industry member) to obtain and analyze any data that potentially supports or refutes the utility of a recommended schematic it receives.

Moreover, because there is also no subpart D exception authorizing industry members to purchase third-party market data from a company that is owned or controlled by the retailer, industry members doing so risk being deemed to have indirectly (and unlawfully) induced the retailer’s future purchases to the exclusion of its competitors.

 


SSQ3: Does TTB Ruling 2016-1 prohibit industry members from acting as “category captains” or from engaging in “category management” activities?

The terms “category management” and “category captain” are not defined in the TTB regulations and can mean different things to different industry members.  TTB Ruling 2016-1 reminds the industry what is exempted by 27 CFR 6.99(b); specifically, providing a recommended shelf plan or shelf schematic, and nothing further.  TTB considers additional services or things of value not specifically exempted by a subpart D exception, whether or not referenced as “category management services,” as inducements under 27 CFR 6.41 of the TTB regulations.  Many of the common services given under the term “category management/category captain” may be considered things of value and, as such, inducements under the Tied-House statute and regulations.  If such practice results in exclusion of competitor products, in whole or in part, such that the retailer’s independence is at risk, with the requisite connection to interstate or foreign commerce, and if (in the case of malt beverages only) there is a similar State law, the practice would violate the FAA Act.

 


SSQ8: In TTB Ruling 2016-1, how would TTB determine if an industry member is “[a]ssuming, in whole or in part, a retailer’s purchasing or pricing decisions, or shelf stocking decisions involving a competitor’s products”?

TTB will examine industry and retailer relationships on a case-by-case basis to determine whether the activity constitutes a proscribed inducement under 27 U.S.C. 205(b)(1) – (b)(7), as well as whether the activity places the retailer’s independence at risk according to the criteria listed in 27 CFR 6.152 and 6.153.  Whether an industry member’s activities place a retailer’s independence at risk is especially relevant when only one industry member prepares and submits schematics for a retailer.

 


Natural Disasters

NDQ4: We removed this FAQ because it was out-of-date.


NDQ2: What records should I keep of any spillage and breakage that occurred on my winery premises as a result of a natural disaster?

You should document the volume and tax class of wine lost in all appropriate TTB-required records - for example, the bulk still wine record (see 27 CFR 24.301) and the bottled or packed wine record (see 27 CFR 24.308). Additionally, you must report the loss on your next TTB F 5120.17, Report of Wine Premises Operations. The volume of bulk wine lost should be reported on line 29 of Part 1, Section A; the volume of bottled wine lost should be reported on line 18 of Part 1, Section B.

 


NDQ7: How do I file a claim for a refund or credit of federal excise tax on wine, beer, distilled spirits, and tobacco products I lost in a natural disaster?

Businesses (retailers, wholesalers, importers, exporters, and manufacturers of beverage alcohol and importers, export warehouse proprietors, and manufacturers of tobacco products and processed tobacco) may file claims with TTB for the payment (refund or allowance of credit) of federal excise taxes paid on beverage alcohol or tobacco products lost, rendered unmarketable, or condemned by a duly authorized official under various circumstances, including natural disasters. However, retailers and wholesalers of tobacco products may only file a claim if the loss occurs as the result of a presidentially declared major disaster. To determine whether a Presidential declaration has been made, visit Disaster Declarations at FEMA.gov. For detailed information on how to file a claim, please visit Disaster Relief at TTB.gov.

 


NDQ5: I'm a retailer, and I lost wine, beer, distilled spirits, and tobacco products as a result of a natural disaster. May I file a claim with TTB for a refund of the federal excise tax paid on all these products? My wholesale distributors have the same question.

Yes, retailers, wholesalers, and importers of beverage alcohol products and importers of tobacco products may file claims with TTB for a refund of the federal excise taxes paid on any beverage alcohol or tobacco products that were lost as a result of natural disasters, including hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, and wildfires. However, retailers and wholesalers of tobacco products may only file a claim if the loss occurs as the result of a presidentially declared major disaster. To determine if a Presidential declaration of a major disaster has been made, please visit Disaster Declarations at FEMA.gov. For detailed information on how to file a claim, please visit Disaster Relief at TTB.gov.

 


NDQ3: I need to destroy untaxpaid wine and/or wine spirits that were damaged during a natural disaster. What TTB procedures do I need to follow?

The destruction of wine is provided for in 27 CFR 24.294, which requires that a proprietor first request permission from TTB's National Revenue Center to destroy the lot of wine before proceeding with the destruction.  Depending on the circumstances of the natural disaster, TTB may waive the requirement that proprietors must first obtain TTB approval before destroying the wine.  However, proprietors must still submit a notification, as soon as practical, to the NRC containing the information required by 27 CFR 24.294. This notification should include the following information:

  • Date of the letter
  • Name and address of the bonded wine premises
  • Registry number of the bonded wine premises ("BWN/BWC/BW-State-xxxxx")
  • Kind of wine
  • Alcohol content
  • Approximate volume in gallons
  • Where wine was destroyed
  • Date of destruction
  • Reason for destruction
  • Printed name of winery representative
  • Signature (Person signing must have signing authority)
  • Telephone number

The notification should be faxed to the National Revenue Center at 202-453-2338, or mailed to:

TTB National Revenue Center               
550 Main St., Room 8970
Cincinnati, OH 45202

If you have wine spirits that must be destroyed, follow the procedure outlined in 27 CFR  24.235(b). The notification required by § 24.235(b) must be sent to the District Director, Trade Investigations Division, who serves your area. For contact information, see our Trade Investigation Division Office Location Mapat TTB.gov.

Please note that the wine must be destroyed in compliance with your local environmental and waste disposal rules.

Show the amount destroyed on TTB F 5120.17, Report of Wine Premises Operations, for the period in which the product was destroyed. The volume of bulk wine destroyed will be entered in the write-in entry Lines 24-28 of Part I, Section A. The volume of bottled wine destroyed will be entered in the write-in entry lines 15-17 of Part I, Section B. The volume of wine spirits destroyed will be entered on line 7 of Part III.

 


NDQ1: I lost a significant quantity of wine at my bonded premises as a result of a natural disaster. Am I required to report my losses to TTB?

Yes. TTB regulations at 27 CFR 24.268 require that proprietors report any casualty loss immediately to TTB. However, depending on the circumstances of the natural disaster, TTB may extend the deadline on a case-by-case basis.   Proprietors should report their losses as soon as they are able to determine the extent of the damage to their inventories. In their submissions, proprietors should provide the following information:

  • Name and address of the bonded wine premises
  • Registry number of the bonded wine premises ("BWN/BWC/BW-State-xxxxx")
  • Kind of wine
  • Alcohol content
  • Approximate volume in gallons
  • Date of loss
  • Reason for loss (i.e., fire damage)
  • Printed name of winery representative
  • Signature (Person signing must have signing authority)
  • Telephone number

 

This information should be submitted, either in letter form or as a fax, to TTB's National Revenue Center:

550 Main Street, Room 8970
Cincinnati, OH 45202-3222
Toll-free: 877-882-3277
Fax: 202-453-2338

The volume of wine lost must also be reported on TTB F 5120.17, Report of Wine Premises Operations, for the reporting period during which the loss occurred.

 


NDQ6: I've heard that if I'm late filing for or paying my federal excise taxes due to a natural disaster, TTB will consider waiving the late penalties and interest. How can I qualify for this waiver?

TTB will consider waiving late filing, payment, or deposit penalties on a case-by-case basis. Wherever warranted, waivers will be approved based on the statutory standard of reasonable cause and a lack of willful neglect demonstrated by the taxpayer.
To qualify for such a waiver, a taxpayer must:

  • Demonstrate, to the satisfaction of the TTB National Revenue Center (NRC), that wildfires directly affected your ability to timely file, pay, or deposit; and
  • Contact the NRC:
    550 Main Street, Room 8970
    Cincinnati, OH 45202-3222
    Toll-free: 877-882-3277
    Fax:  202-453-2338