"Does TTB Regulate Saké as a Beer or Wine? Also, How Do I Import Saké?"

Posted 01/14/2013


Saké cups by Macglee is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

Saké: A Little Background

Saké (pronounced sah-kay) is a traditional Japanese alcoholic beverage made from rice.  Although the majority of saké products on the market are imported from Japan, a growing number of them are made here in the United States.

Such products made at breweries in the United States are referred to as saké, but in Japan saké is a term used to describe alcoholic drinks in general.  Ironically, the specific Japanese term that would refer to the type of saké products made at breweries in America is nihonshu, which means "Japanese saké" or "saké of Japan."  While saké is best known as a drink, it is also used in cooking and skin care products!

TTB's Take on Saké

Saké is an interesting product in terms of our regulations.  For matters relating to production and tax, saké is treated as beer under the Internal Revenue Code (IRC).  For labeling and advertising, saké is treated as wine under the Federal Alcohol Administration (FAA) Act.  Therefore, saké is subject to provisions in 27 CFR part 25 (beer production) and 27 CFR part 4 (labeling and advertising).

Additional Resources

How Do I Import Saké
Saké is a wine for purposes of importation; you must qualify as an importer if you plan to import saké.

Saké with Added Alcohol
TTB taxes saké that has had brewer's alcohol or distilled spirits added during any stage of manufacturing at the distilled spirits rate of $13.50 per proof gallon.

Non-Beverage Saké
Nonbeverage saké may be removed from brewery premises without payment of tax under 27 CFR 25.191.

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Page last reviewed: June 1, 2015
Page last updated: January 14, 2013
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