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Baby Mouse Wine

A few months ago, an industry newsletter brought news of Baby Mouse Wine and other delicacies oddities from around the world. Since then, the email has been clogging up my inbox, as I attempt to track down this libation. The article was originally in Forbes and had this to say about the mouse wine:

Like the name suggests, this is a rice wine containing baby mice. Best prepare, this explanation isn’t for the faint of heart. Baby mice are taken soon after being born, and dropped, alive, into a bottle of rice wine. The “rules” state that they must be under 72 hours old and their eyes must still be closed. After about a dozen of the little guys are in, the bottle is left to ferment and age for a year. Most people reading this are probably feeling a little uncomfortable right about now, but in Asia, the drink is bound by tradition and goes back centuries. The country of origin is debated to this day. Whether it came from Korea or China, the wine is said to greatly help asthma patients and people with liver disease.

I am simultaneously relieved and disappointed, that I can’t find any of this in the TTB database. If there is a more exotic product out there, I have yet to see it, and I don’t think all the saliva- and snake-type products even come close. I was hoping to take this story to the next level by finding some related approvals and reviewing the legal hoops involved. Sadly, instead, I will have to settle for merely adding a few photos that Forbes was far too genteel to publish. Like these.

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How Distilleries and Spirits Brand Owners Can Take Advantage of the New Tax Laws

In late 2017, Congress passed the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act (CBMTRA) as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. The CBMTRA cut the Federal Excise Tax (FET) on distilled spirits from $13.50 a proof gallon to $2.70 a proof gallon for the first 100,000 proof gallons (approximately 52,631 9-liter cases of 80 proof spirits) removed from bond for consumption or sale in 2018 or 2019.

The rules for distilleries to qualify for the reduced FET are fairly straightforward. To take advantage of the reduced FET on their first 100,000 proof gallons removed from bond in 2018 and 2019, a distillery must distill or processthose spirits. TTB’s definition of “process” is somewhat broad, but includes mixing, rectifying, and bottling. Therefore, a distillery who purchases whiskey or vodka in bulk, and bottles it at their facility, should be eligible to pay the lower FET rate, provided they have not removed more than 100,000 proof gallons in the current calendar year, and the current calendar year is either 2018 or 2019.

Read the rest of this article here.

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alcohol beverages generally, distilled spirits


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More ARTAL

I was fully prepared to do a whole bunch of client work on this quiet day after Easter, but then Jaycee showed me a new Industry Circular. It is 2018-2, entitled Expansion of Allowable Changes to Approved Alcohol Beverage Labels. It adds some interesting new allowances, beyond the many set out here and here and here, etc. At first, the Circular looked pretty text-y and so it was hard to gauge the significance. To make it more visual, I prepared the above. It is easier to comprehend if you click on it, to expand it into its full glory (with all due apologies to Four Roses for monkeying with their back label). TTB seems to be on a roll, to expand the allowable revisions. It is quite a departure from the agency of a decade or two ago, not especially enamored of such changes. I wonder to what extent these allowable revisions are having a marked impact on the number of labels submitted.

To understand the image, the green lines show allowable revisions, and the red lines show revisions that would not be allowable without a new COLA. The lines go in order and roughly correspond to the order in the Circular:

    1. I made the label a bit bigger to accommodate the new text, and this line is just showing it’s ok to change the shape and size of an approved label, based on an earlier announcement (item 3, here).
    2. It’s ok to add, delete or swap among the TTB-approved instructional statements. This one is on the list so it’s ok.
    3. Similarly, it’s ok to add, delete or swap among the TTB-approved responsibility statements. This one is ok to add, on this back label, because it’s on the list.
    4. Once again, ok to add, delete or swap among the TTB-approved environmental statements.
    5. I have added a food pairing recommendation and it’s ok because it’s pretty in line with those allowed on the list.

 

  1. Even though this one is very similar to 1., it’s not ok because it’s not on the approved list.
  2. This one is quite similar to 2., but not ok because it’s not on the list.
  3. Similar to 3., but not on the list so not ok.
  4. Similar to 4., not not ok because not on the list.
  5. This one is a bit trickier. This indicates a change from a glass bottle to a bag-in-box. The Circular says:  “TTB wishes to caution industry members about using this allowable revision when changing between different types of containers, for example, when changing from a keg label to a bottle label, or from a bottle label to a bag-in-a-box label.  Labels for different types of containers usually look very different and may contain label information specific to the container type (e.g., instructions for serving from a bag-in-a-box container) or different graphics. … These restrictions make it unlikely that you will be able to use a label approved for one type of container for a different type of container without submitting the new label to TTB for approval.” Here, the front v. back probably changed, and it’s arguable that the spigot side would be the brand label, so it’s not an especially good idea to assume ARTAL alone would save anyone.

If you have any great ideas for how to expand the list still further, let us know.

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Perspective from a Pernod Lawyer

There is lots of focus on what the craft people are up to, and certainly there is much movement in that regard. But here we turn back to the big companies, and how they see things. Artisan Spirit magazine recently published my email interview with Tom Lalla. Tom was the head lawyer at Pernod for many years. An excerpt is below, and you can find the full article at the link.

Who were the legendary beverage lawyers before you, and what made them so?

The outstanding, legendary beverage lawyer of the past few generations was Abe Buchman. I worked with Abe and his firm for 10 years and then continued to work with him when I joined Pernod Ricard. Abe was a mentor and a role model for tireless devotion to the industry. Abe taught me the necessity of finding practical solutions for our clients’ issues.  Sometimes, as lawyers, we lose sight of being practical. We get hung up in the legal niceties of an issue. What Abe stressed was that we find a solution that was practical for the client and accomplished the client’s goals without running afoul of the legal requirements. Another legend was Bill Schreiber.  I had the pleasure of working with both Bill and Abe when the Buchman and Schreiber firms merged in 1986. Having both Abe and Bill together in the same office was a beverage alcohol lawyer’s dream come true. With so much shared knowledge about the law, the industry, and its players and so many exciting projects being worked on by them, it was a unique moment in my career.

Very few other people have a vantage point as good as Tom’s, after many decades building Pernod, and working at a top law firm specializing in alcohol beverage matters.

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Crafty, In a Good Way

I heard about this on the radio this morning, on the way in. Apparently it’s illegal to allow farms, or picking fruit for free, on New York City lands — so these guys put it on a barge. It struck me as pretty crafty. That is, crafty in a good way.

The rules say:

Public foraging and policy
According to the New York City Parks Department

No person shall deface, write upon, injure, sever, mutilate, kill or remove from the ground any trees under the jurisdiction of the Department without permission of the Commissioner.

No person shall deface, write upon, sever, mutilate, kill or remove from the ground any plants, flowers, shrubs or other vegetation under the jurisdiction of the Department without permission of the Commissioner.

Swale says:

Because of the common laws of New York City’s waterways, Swale is able to act as a test case as an edible public food forest. Swale is built atop a barge that was once used for hauling sand to construction sites before it was re-purposed for growing food.

We are always on the lookout for what is crafty, in a good way. A CBS story on this is here. I wonder how well an alcohol beverage operation would fare with a similar sleight of hand.

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