Revised rules for whiskey labeling? Proceed with caution

Charles Cowdery discusses federal liquor labeling rules on the R Street blog:

Craft distillers often complain about the Federal Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits (27 Code of Federal Regulations 5), a set of labeling rules enforced by the Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) of the Treasury Department. These regulations define which spirits can be called what names.

Small producers complain that the rules are outdated, squelch creativity and should be changed. The TTB recently invited them – through their trade association, the American Craft Spirits Association – to suggest revisions ahead of the effort this fall to update the regulations. Who knows – maybe we’ll end up with new categories, like barrel-aged gin?

This isn’t the first time producers have asked for changes. It’s worth recounting what happened the last time producers demanded that regulators redefine whiskey. It is a cautionary tale....