Singani gains legal protection in USBy Nicola Carruthers
Bolivian spirit Singani has received legal recognition in the US following an eight-year campaign by filmmaker Steven Soderbergh.
The US and Bolivia first signed an agreement to recognise Bourbon and Tennessee whiskey as American products, and Singani as a Bolivian spirit, in January 2020.
In August 2021, the US government’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) posted a proposed ruling to recognise the spirit as a type of brandy from Bolivia, which has now been finalised.
Since 2014, Ocean’s Eleven director Soderbergh, who owns the Singani 63 brand, has led a campaign for the TTB to recognise the Bolivian spirit.
Soderbergh’s campaign secured 13,000 signatures through the brand’s ‘Recognise Singani’ petition, which was later submitted to the TTB.
The Bolivian government joined the initiative as a petition co-sponsor in 2018, according to the producer.
“In 2014, when I sat across the table from 17 people representing four different agencies (Treasury; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; TTB; Food and Drug Administration), I felt like an ant at the bottom of the Matterhorn,” recalled Soderbergh.
“The good news, however, is that each agency in the end acted to fulfil their mandate of informing the public about what they’re drinking when they drink Singani.
“This recognition is certainly a high point in the long history of Bolivia’s unique spirit.”
Known as Bolivia’s national drink, Singani is a distilled spirit made from white Muscat of Alexandria grapes.
Singani’s ‘domain of origin’ limits growth and distillation of the spirit to minimum altitudes of 5,250 feet, and to specific regions of the country.
Soderbergh developed the Singani 63 brand in 2015 in partnership with Bolivia’s leading Singani producer Casa Real. It is available in the US and the UK.
Casa Real CEO Luis Pablo Granier explained: “Our family has been producing Singani for nearly 100 years and it has been an absolute joy to see our product on bar shelves across the US over the last nine years for the first time in our history.
“To now have our life’s work recognised on a global stage and recognised by the US government is a moment my great-grandfather couldn’t and wouldn’t have dreamed of.”