ATF Ruling 77-32

The Bureau's attention has been called to a condition of ATF Ruling 73-8, 1973 ATF C.B. 76, which is subject to misinterpretation. That ruling deals with acceptable bar dispensing equipment.

ATF Ruling 73-8 lists, in the fifth paragraph, four conditions which bar dispensing equipment must meet in order to be acceptable. Condition (3) specifies that the equipment "must not permit intermixing of different kinds of products or brands." This condition has been misinterpreted. Condition (3) is intended only to prohibit the intermixing of different kinds of products or brands in the liquor bottles from which they are dispensed. Condition (3) is not intended to prohibit the intermixing of different kinds of products or brands within the internal spaces of bar dispensing equipment, as long as the intermixing does not occur in liquor bottles.

To avoid future misinterpretations, ATF Ruling 73-8 is hereby superseded by this ruling with appropriate clarification to condition (3).

Under the general requirements of 26 U.S.C. 5301 relating to traffic in containers of distilled spirits, the Director, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, in effect, is authorized to regulate the kind, size, branding, marketing, sale, resale, possession, use, and reuse of containers designed or intended for use for sale of distilled spirits. In addition, section 5301 for bids the placing in any container, i.e., liquor bottle, of any distilled spirits whatsoever other than those contained in such bottle at the time the strip stamp was applied and forbids the possession of any liquor bottle by any person if any of the contents have been altered or increased by the addition of any substance whatsoever. In regard to strip stamps, 26 U.S.C. 5205 states, in part, that no person shall transport, possess, buy sell, or transfer any distilled spirits, unless the immediate container thereof is stamped by a stamp evidencing the determination of tax or indicating compliance with the statutes; and further, the stamp must be affixed in such a manner as to be broken when the container is opened.

The regulations in 27 CFR 194.251 written under the authority of section 5205 require that all distilled spirits (except industrial alcohol) in the possession of liquor dealers be in bottles or similar containers of one gallon or less bearing prescribed strip stamps; regulations in 27 CFR 194.252 require that such stamps be broken when the bottles are opened and that portions of the stamps remain attached to the bottles while any part of the contents remain therein (such portion should be sufficient to identify the kind of stamp).

Held, under the foregoing requirements, bar dispensing equipment for use by retail liquor dealers (1) must avoid an in-series hookup which would permit the contents of liquor bottles to flow from bottle to bottle before reaching the dispensing spigot or nozzle, (2) must not dispense from or utilize containers other than original liquor bottles filled, stamped, and labeled in conformity with ATF regulations, (3) must prohibit the intermixing of different kinds of products or brands in the liquor bottles from which they are being dispensed, and (4) must not change or obscure the portion of the strip stamp required to remain on a liquor bottle after opening.

In addition to the foregoing, the premises, including places of storage, where liquors are sold or dispensed are subject to inspection by ATF officers during business hours for the purpose of inspection or for examination of any record or other documents required to be kept by liquor dealers under the requirements of 27 CFR Part 194, Liquor Dealers. Therefore, dealers installing dispensing systems where any part of the system is in a locked room or cabinet should make arrangements to assure that such room or cabinet may be opened on demand to inspection during regular business hours by ATF officers in accordance with the provisions of 27 CFR 194.42.

ATF Ruling 73-8, 1973 ATF C.B. 76, is hereby superseded.

27 CFR 173.43, 27 CFR 194.42, 194.251, 194.252 and 194.261.