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TTB proposes American single malt definition

The US government’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) has published its proposed standards for American single malt.

There are more than 100 producers of American single malt whiskey

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking was published in the federal register on 29 July as an amendment to the whiskey standard.

To be labelled as a US-made single malt, TTB proposes that the liquid must be distilled entirely at one American distillery, and must be mashed, distilled, and aged in the States.

It must also be made of 100% malted barley, stored in an oak barrel of 700 litres or under, and be bottled at 40% ABV or higher.

Trade body the Distilled Spirits Council of the US (Discus) welcomed the move, which followed a letter it sent to the TTB urging them to move forward with the rule in April.

Discus and the American Single Malt Whiskey Commission (ASMWC) submitted official comments to the TTB in June 2019 in support of setting a standard for US-made single malt whiskey as part of TTB’s 2018 plan to modernise the labelling and advertising regulations for alcohol.

“We want to thank TTB for listening to the industry’s requests and we look forward to working with the Bureau to develop an official new category for American single malt whiskey,” said Discus president and CEO Chris Swonger.

“The formal establishment of standards of identity for American single malt whiskey is a clear recognition that this rapidly growing category is unique and deserves to be defined and protected as a distinctive product of the United States.

“Consumer fascination with American single malt whiskey is at an all‐time high and establishing a clear definition will drive innovation and help maintain the integrity of this category as more products enter the market.”

Denver-based Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey also issued a statement in response to the proposed standard, describing it as a ‘momentous step’ for the spirits industry.

Stranahan’s said the move will specifically allow whiskey makers to use new or used barrels, which provides the firm with the ability to ‘continue developing new products and blending different whiskey profiles’.

Owen Martin, head distiller at Stranahan’s, added: “We believe this established identity will amplify consumer awareness of the American single malt category in the United States and beyond.

“With the category being officiated, American single malts will start to compete with traditional whisky categories.”

Members of the public are invited to comment on the ruling until 27 September 2022.

Steve Hawley, president of ASMWC, considered how innovation would be carried out after a standard is established for US single malts, forecasting the growth of “regional whiskies”.

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