Legal definition would ‘not benefit’ craft spirits

16th July, 2014 by Amy Hopkins

Despite controversy surrounding big spirits brands marketing their products as “craft”, the sector should not be bound by a legal definition, according to a leading US master distiller.

Lance-Winters

Lance Winters, master distiller of St George Spirits, believes the craft spirits sector would not benefit from an official definition

Speaking to The Spirits Business, Lance Winters, master distiller at California-based craft distillery St George Spirits said that despite the thought that larger companies are “masquerading as craft”, an official definition which could ban such companies from marketing themselves in this way, would not be beneficial to the sector.

“It doesn’t take long to look across the market and spot products masquerading as craft, but really the term is simply being used as a puppet by big organisations. This happens all too often – these products have craft packaging but they are not truly craft.

“However, though I think consumers should be armed with skepticism, I think putting an official legal definition on what crafts spirits would be too limiting for the industry.

“Putting a binding definition on what craft is, would be like putting a binding legal definition on what art is.”

Winters added that he instead believes that there should be an enforced “legal transparency” in spirits labelling, as companies “should not be able to get away with lies”.

Similarly, Chip Tate, head distiller at famed Bourbon craft distillery Balcones, said that although large companies “certainly appropriate the craft term”, a legal definition should not be implemented because “politicians are not necessarily tuned into what craft really is”.

“But we still need to have high level conversations about craft spirits,” he said. “We have to ask big companies what they mean when they say they are producing craft spirits. We have to hold them to account.”

Tate added that a legal definition of craft spirits that incorporates a size cap could also be problematic because this could deter companies from growth.

Currently, there is no government-enforced definition for craft spirits, yet the the American Distilling Institute (ADI) stipulates its own industry definition.

According to this definition, craft spirits are the products of an independently-owned distillery with maximum annual sales of 52,000 cases, where the product is physically distilled and bottled on site.

Executives at the ADI are currently applying to the US Patent and Trademark Office to have its definition of craft spirits officially recognised.

5 Responses to “Legal definition would ‘not benefit’ craft spirits”

  1. aphoticV says:

    I agree with them. It won’t really benefit small producers. I also don’t believe the big companies will want to talk about transparency – not in their interest.
    On the other hand, more and more people are associating the word “craft” with size. When it should be more about quality. Why not use “micro” instead, if trying to define by size.

  2. Chuck W says:

    Craft guys are the guys taking locally grown stuff and making spirits. Distilling, mashing , fermenting. Real craft guys have a local balance with their community. No shortcuts The liquor industry as a whole is loaded with so much smoke and mirrors its tough for the consumer to know where their drink really comes from. Craft makers ( true craft makers ) have nothing to hide.

  3. M says:

    With all due respect, the majority of people don’t care about whether something is craft and would rather buy their regular old Bailey’s or Beam. Craft distilleries should do themselves the favor of making obscure, unique or novel products that big guys can’t compete with, because they’re way too big to.

  4. N says:

    Important point of correction: The American Distilling Institute (ADI) is not a trade organization. It is a privately owned, for-profit business. There are two trade organizations representing distilleries in the United States: The Distilled Spirits Council and the American Craft Spirits Association. The American Craft Spirits Association is a registered non-profit trade organization run by a board of directors that was elected by member distilleries. It is not pursuing a legal definition of craft at this time, and will do so only if the membership indicates that it desires a legal definition. So far, they have not.

  5. Mike says:

    If the government decides to step in, or is invited to step in, the result will be bad for everyone from the distillers to the consumers.

Leave a Reply

If that's interesting, how about these?

Woodford Reserve Five Malt set to launch

Kentucky-based distiller Woodford Reserve is adding a new whiskey to its more...

Sussex distillery creates gin for A JW Marriott

Blackdown Distillery has partnered with A JW Marriott to create an exclusive more...

Lagavulin marks 200 years with 25YO expression

Diageo-owned Islay distillery Lagavulin has launched a 25-year-old expression more...

Ex-William Grant CEO elected to Bacardi board

Stella David, the former CEO of William Grant & Sons, has been elected to join more...

Metaxa and LoveGreece unveil limited edition

Rémy Cointreau's Metaxa has released a new Metaxa 7 Stars limited edition more...

Hennessy marks blender succession with release

LVMH-owned Cognac house Hennessy has marked the arrival of its more...

Gin now one-third of Waitrose spirits sales

Gin sales at upmarket British supermarket Waitrose have soared 50% year-on-year more...

Bloom Gin launches new bottle design

Quintessential Brands has unveiled a new bottle design and label for its Bloom more...

New Orkney distillery gets approval

Plans to build the first gin distillery in Orkney, Scotland, have been given more...

WSET launches 3 Minute Spirit School

The Wine and Spirit Education Trust has released a series of short introductory more...

Confessions of a retailer: Craft Cellars

Darcy Wood, managing partner of Craft Cellars in Calgary, Canada, tells us why more...

Blackwater Distillery unveils strawberry gin

Ireland-based Blackwater Distillery has launched Wexford Strawberry Gin, a line more...

Beam Suntory denies 'volatile' US-Japan relations

Beam Suntory has sought to mitigate potential effects of a report that more...

Top father and son/daughter spirits teams

As Father’s Day approaches this weekend, we take a look at some of the father more...

Thirstie expands into mail order spirits

On-demand drinks delivery service Thirstie has added direct mail order and more...

Gin and eau de vie distillery opens in Cotswolds

A new distillery has opened in the Cotswolds, UK, producing a gin containing 34 more...

The week in pictures

From distillery openings and anniversary celebrations to schmoozing with rap more...

A drink with... Shervene Shahbazkhani, Bacardi

Bacardi’s Northern Europe brand ambassador talks to us about career more...