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DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY
Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau

Industry Circular

Number: 2016-01
Date: September 29, 2016

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Elimination of Certain Pre-COLA Product Evaluation Requirements (Formulas or Laboratory Analysis) for Certain Alcohol Beverage Products

To: Proprietors of Bonded Wineries, Bonded Wine Cellars, Taxpaid Wine Bottling Houses, Beverage Distilled Spirits Plants, Breweries, Importers, and Others Concerned.

PURPOSE

This circular amplifies Industry Circular 2007-4, “Pre-COLA Product Evaluation,” by announcing that:

  • TTB is eliminating pre-COLA evaluation requirements (i.e., formulas and/or laboratory analysis) for certain domestic and imported wines and distilled spirits products;
  • TTB is separating and republishing the charts first published with Industry Circular 2007-4 as discrete guidance documents that can be updated individually as changes are made to formula requirements. Industry Circular 2007-4 will remain in effect, but the charts may be updated on an ongoing basis as formula requirements are revised.

BACKGROUND

As part of its review of applications for certificates of label approval (COLAs) for distilled spirits, wine, and malt beverages under the Federal Alcohol Administration Act, 27 U.S.C. 205(e), TTB requires pre-COLA analysis of certain alcohol beverage products. Furthermore, TTB regulations in 27 CFR parts 5, 19, 24, and 25 require formula review for certain alcohol beverages. Industry Circular 2007-4, dated September 11, 2007, sets forth additional information about those requirements.

For some alcohol beverages, TTB requires a formula to determine whether a proposed label identifies the product in an adequate and non-misleading way. Pre‑COLA product evaluation entails a review of a product’s ingredients and production process and also may include a laboratory analysis of a product sample. The type of pre-COLA product evaluation required for a particular product depends on that product’s formulation and origin.

List of Products Requiring Pre-COLA Evaluation

TTB maintains three (3) commodity-specific charts, one each for wine, distilled spirits, and malt beverages, that reflect the current pre-COLA evaluation requirements for the listed products. Please be advised that, because the requirements for pre-COLA product evaluation for a particular type of product may change, it is important to visit the TTB website for the most current information. In addition, the charts are provided as general guidance. Particular circumstances may dictate the need for a pre-COLA product evaluation for a specific product even though no such requirement is listed in the charts.

Revisions to Charts

Domestic and Imported Malt Beverages

The malt beverage chart, Pre-COLA Product Evaluations For Malt Beverages, TTB G 2016-1A, was updated to include a reference to TTB Ruling 2015-1 and Attachment 1 which include a list of ingredients and processes used in the production of malt beverages that are not subject to formula requirements.

Domestic and Imported Wines

The wine chart, Pre-COLA Product Evaluations for Wine Products, TTB G 2016-2, has been updated to reflect the changes made by TTB Ruling 2016-2. Specifically, the chart has been updated to refer to the exemptions from the formula requirements provided by TTB Ruling 2016-2 for the following domestic or imported standard agricultural wines made in accordance with the holdings of that ruling:

 

  • Carrot wine
  • Dried fruit wine (e.g., raisin wine)
  • Honey wine (Mead)
  • Maple syrup wine
  • Onion wine
  • Pepper wine (Jalapeño, green, red, etc.)
  • Pumpkin wine
  • Rhubarb wine
  • Sweet potato wine
  • Tomato wine

Domestic Distilled Spirits

The distilled spirits chart, Pre-COLA Product Evaluations for Distilled Spirits Products, TTB G 2016-3, has been updated to reflect the changes made by TTB Ruling 2016-3. Pursuant to TTB Ruling 2016-3 (and in the case of domestic “Whisky” with no specified type, consistent with prior TTB practice), the chart has been updated to reflect that formulas are no longer required for the following domestic distilled spirits products made with no harmless coloring, flavoring or blending materials other than the materials specified in the chart below:

 

Class/Type

Harmless Coloring, Flavoring or Blending Materials
That Do Not Require Formula Submission

  • Corn Whisky
  • Light Whisky
  • Malt Whisky
  • Rye Malt Whisky
  • Rye Whisky
  • Whisky (with no type designation)
  • Wheat Whisky
  • Whisky Distilled from Bourbon Mash
  • Whisky Distilled from Malt Mash
  • Whisky Distilled from Rye Malt Mash
  • Whisky Distilled from Rye Mash
  • Whisky Distilled from Wheat Mash

Sugar, caramel, or wine, singly or in combination, in a quantity that does not exceed 2 ½ percent by volume of the finished product.

 

  • Applejack
  • Grape Brandy
  • Dried Fruit Brandy
  • Fruit Brandy
  • Grappa/Grappa Brandy
  • Immature Brandy (Grape Only)
  • Lees Brandy
  • Marc Brandy
  • Neutral Brandy
  • Pomace Brandy
  • Residue Brandy
  • Slivovitz

 

Sugar, caramel, fruit juice from the same fruit from which the brandy is distilled; or wine fermented from juice of the same fruit from which the brandy is distilled, singly or in combination, in a quantity that does not exceed a total of 2 ½ percent by volume of the finished product.

 

  • Rum

 

Sugar, brown sugar, molasses, or caramel, singly or in combination, in a quantity that does not exceed a total of 2 ½ percent by volume of the finished product.

  • Vodka

Sugar in an amount not to exceed 2 grams per liter, citric acid in an amount not to exceed 1 gram per liter, or both.

Imported Distilled Spirits

The distilled spirits chart, TTB G 2016-3, has also been updated to remove pre-import analysis (pre-import letter and laboratory sample analysis) requirements for the following imported distilled spirits products:

 

  • A Blend of Straight Corn Whiskies
  • A Blend of Straight Malt Whiskies
  • A Blend of Straight Rye Malt Whiskies
  • A Blend of Straight Rye Whiskies
  • A Blend of Straight Wheat Whiskies
  • A Blend of Straight Whiskies
  • Straight Whisky
  • Straight Corn Whisky
  • Straight Malt Whisky
  • Straight Rye Malt Whisky
  • Straight Rye Whisky
  • Vodka

These products do not require formulas when produced domestically, and TTB has determined that there is no need currently to require pre-import lab analysis (formula with sample) for these products.

The distilled spirits chart has also been updated to remove laboratory sample analysis requirements for the following products and instead requires a pre-import letter (formula) for those imported products made using harmless coloring, flavoring or blending materials not specified in the above chart. This change aligns the requirements for both imported and domestically produced products.

 

  • Corn Whisky
  • Malt Whisky
  • Rye Malt Whisky
  • Rye Whisky
  • Wheat Whisky

Additionally, the chart has been updated to clarify that Pisco is a product of either Peru or Chile. This change is in accordance with the regulations at 27 CFR 5.22(d)(9), which provide that “Pisco” is grape brandy manufactured in either Peru or Chile, in accordance with the laws and regulations of the country of manufacture governing the manufacture of Pisco for consumption in that country. Finally, the chart has been updated to add Cachaça as a type of rum. This change is in accordance with the regulations at 27 CFR 5.22(f)(1), which provide that “Cachaça” is rum that is a distinctive product of Brazil, manufactured in Brazil in compliance with the laws of Brazil regulating the manufacture of Cachaça for consumption in that country.

Pursuant to its authority under 27 CFR 4.38(h), 5.33(g) and 7.31(d), and under its general authority under the FAA Act to approve labels, TTB may require a formula or other pre-COLA product evaluation for a specific product even though no such requirement is indicated on the chart.

CONTACT INFORMATION

If you have any questions concerning this circular, please contact the Advertising, Labeling and Formulation Division at 1-866-927-2533 or at Submit an Online Inquiry.

John Manfreda

John J. Manfreda
Administrator
Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau

 
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