Reply To: Discussion of TTB proposed regs on Part 5

 Jason Parker

Here is an update from the American Single Malt Whiskey Commission (, written by Steve Hawley from Westland Distilling. This is just one aspect of the proposed updates that are troublesome. Please note the section highlighted below: It is worth noting that legal council believes these proposed regs are NOT the current thinking of the TTB.

As many of you have now heard, the TTB finally published proposed rule changes last Monday, November 26th. Unfortunately, a new standard of identity was not included for American Single Malt Whiskey. This is of course very discouraging news after years of effort petitioning to be included.

The full 132-page TTB proposal can be found here (also attached). You’ll notice in reading the proposal that we are not alone. There are a number of other omissions in addition to ours—a long list of things from barrel-aged gin to the elimination of format size requirements. Like our petition, these proposed changes come with strong support from the industry and have been well received by TTB officials. The fact that these petitions, along with ours, were not included in the formal proposed rule changes has led to a great deal of frustration across the industry.

At this stage, there has been no reasoning provided by the TTB for why petitions have or have not been included in the proposed rule changes. Our counsel believes that the reason is a simple one. Some of the rule changes in this document date back as far as 1989. Our suspicion is that these proposed rule changes were actually drafted some time ago and are just now being published, without the effort put forth to include many of the more recent petitions submitted in the past few years.

We are now working to schedule interviews with head officials at the TTB (all of whom voiced support for our petition in the past) in order to understand their decisions and our potential recourse. Our colleagues at DISCUS are meeting on December 19th to catalog their long list of concerns before also formally addressing them with the TTB. (We are confident that our petition will be included in that list.) With the release of the TTB’s proposed rule changes comes the start of the public comment period, which concludes on March 29th, 2019 before they take another 90 days to adopt and enact what they choose to write into law. This process now stands as our biggest opportunity to lobby for inclusion.

Process is the key word here. We’re stepping into the next phase of what has been a long and often convoluted process—one that has been happening for decades. Regardless of how the gears of regulation have turned thus far, we have time to marshall our resources and present a compelling argument. We must continue to put as much pressure on the TTB as possible and advocate for inclusion before the March 29th deadline, but do so in a coordinated fashion. We are fortunate in one respect—we are not faced with the task of arguing against the publishing of a bad definition we aren’t happy with. Our job remains to champion the definition we’ve put forth, the value it provides to the consumer, and the industry consensus that stands behind it.

Our petition for a standard of identity for American Single Malt Whiskey is well written and has garnered universal support. At 107 member producers, our voice as a Commission has never been stronger. It is imperative that that voice be heard in the weeks and months to come. Before the new year we will provide a formal letter that each of you, your trade partners and your local guilds can use to advocate on our behalf. We will also be providing you with contact information for all TTB officials that should receive the letter. When ready, we ask that each of you find a few moments to add your distillery’s name to the list of members writing in to advocate inclusion.

Please stay tuned on the Forum here for further news, updates and resources regarding these proposed rule changes as well as updates on other Commission activities.


There’s lots more to consider besides the inclusion of American Single Malt Whiskey as a Type of Whiskey. But I wanted everyone to know about this specific effort.

Fight the good fight…
Jason Parker

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