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American single malt whiskey to be legally defined

A new rule providing a legal definition for American single malt whiskey will be published this December, according to the American Single Malt Whiskey Commission (ASMWC).

American whiskey
ASMWC is “very optimistic” that its proposed definition will be accepted

ASMWC is an organisation of US whiskey producers that have united to formulate and lobby for legal standards for American single malts.

While many producers use the term ‘American single malt whiskey’ on their labels, there is not yet any formal, legally enforced definition for the category.

In a newsletter released on Friday 24 September, ASMWC said the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) – the US government organisation in charge of alcohol labelling laws – is “poised to publish a new rule this December that formally defines American single malt whiskey”.

The statement continued: “We have been in regular contact with [the TTB] and are (a) very optimistic that our proposed definition will be reflected in the rule that they ultimately publish and (b) remain hopeful that they will meet the suggested timeline. This means American single malt could be enshrined into law by spring of next year.”

According to the definition put forth by the ASMWC, American single malts must be made from 100% malted barley; distilled entirely at one distillery; mashed, distilled and matured in the US; matured in oak casks of no more than 700 litres; distilled to no more than 80% ABV; and bottled at 40% ABV or more.

After the TTB releases its proposed rule, there will be a public comment period in which people can voice their opinions on the matter. ASMWC has called on its members to send feedback in support of the change once the comment period is announced.

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