Friday, February 19, 2016
Compass Box Crusade Is Already Won in USA
Compass Box is campaigning for a labeling rules change. What you may not realize is that the rules Compass Box doesn't like already do not apply to whiskey sold in the USA.
Here is the Compass Box 'Statement of Belief' that they are asking whiskey enthusiasts to endorse:
We believe that Scotch producers should be given the freedom but not the obligation to include the age of all the components that go into their whiskies to bring them into line with the vast majority of other industries where total transparency is not only permitted but encouraged.
Americans are free to sign the petition if they want to but you should know that these rules don't apply to us and never have. Here, age statements are optional for any whiskey that is more than four years old. Age statements must state the age of the youngest whiskey in the mix, but producers are welcome to provide information about the other components too.
And they do. High West is releasing a new version of its popular Bourye that is "a unique and very premium blend of rich 9-year-old bourbon and 13- and 17-year-old ryes." Luxco's Blood Oath Pact 1 is a combination of three straight bourbons; a 6-year-old wheater, a 7-year-old rye recipe, and a 12-year-old rye recipe. Last year's Yellowstone Limited Edition was a 7-year-old wheater, a 7-year-old rye recipe bourbon, and a 12-year-old rye recipe bourbon. Diageo's new Gifted Horse whiskey is 39 percent 17-year-old Kentucky bourbon, 51 percent 4-year-old MGP Bourbon, and 10 percent 4-year-old MGP corn whiskey.
Diageo deserves credit for including the percentage of each component, which producers usually forgo. If you're looking for the distinctive taste of a 17-year-old whiskey, you might not get much if it's just 10 percent of the blend, but at 39 percent it should be very noticeable. That's why enthusiasts want this kind of information.
Compass Box wants to follow the Diageo example, describing all of the component whiskeys in its blend, including both age and percentage. In the U.S. market, their labels may contain all of that information right now.
Perhaps they had a good reason for it but the European Union (EU) rule, suggested by the Scotch Whiskey Association (SWA), seems absurd. Why prohibit producers from providing truthful information about their products? If the SWA/EU rule serves any interest it is certainly not that of consumers.
But it's not our problem.