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American Single Malt Whiskey Category Tantalizing Close To TTB Sign Off

In groundbreaking news for the American whiskey industry, the federal Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) today issued a “Notice of Proposed Rulemaking” that will establish a new American Single Malt whiskey category.

The decision is already making waves in the industry.

“This is great news for U.S. distillers and consumers,” said Chris Swonger, CEO of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, in a prepared statement. “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.”

American Single Malt Whiskey category
Westward American Single Malt Cask Strength (image via Debbie Nelson/The Whiskey Wash)

The Tax and Trade Bureau has officially published the American Single Malt whiskey standard of identity “notice of proposed rulemaking” in the Federal Register. Comments on this rulemaking will be due by Sept 27th.

The Bureau is proposing to amend the whiskey standard of identity in its codes and regulations by adding American Single Malt whiskey as a type of whiskey in its language.

The Bureau’s proposed American Single Malt whiskey definition is “American Single Malt whiskey must be distilled entirely at one U.S. distillery, and must be mashed, distilled, and aged in the United States.”

Also of note is that it must be “distilled to a proof not exceeding 160° proof from a fermented mash of 100% malted barley, is stored in oak containers not exceeding a capacity of 700 liters, and is bottled at not less than 80° proof.”

American Single Malt Whiskey category
Cedar Ridge The QuintEssential American Single Malt (image via Cindy Capparelli/The Whiskey Wash)

“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,” Swonger added.

It was on April 28th of this year that the Distilled Spirits Council and the American Single Malt Whiskey Coalition sent a letter to the Tax and Trade Bureau urging to move forward with issuing its “addition of American Single Malt whiskey to the standards of identity for distilled spirits” notice of proposed rulemaking.

The Distiller’s Council and the Coalition submitted official comments to the Bureau back in June of 2019 in support of establishing a standard of identity for American Single Malt whiskey as part of the Bureau’s 2018 rulemaking to modernize the labeling and advertising regulations for distilled spirits, wine and malt beverages.

That change in rulemaking remained on the semi-annual agenda until this week’s decision.

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