Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Movement to Enforce 5.36(d) Is Growing

The Treasury Department's Alcohol Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) puts out a series of informational brochures directed at the general public. This one, for instance, is entitled "What You Should Know About Distilled Spirits Labels."

On the back is a column of text that starts out, "How TTB Protects the Public." It says things like this: "TTB takes tremendous pride in its strategic mission to 'protect the public' which is designed to ensure the integrity of alcohol beverages in the marketplace, verify and substantiate industry member compliance with law and regulations, and to provide information to the public as a means of preventing consumer deception."

Recent examples of how TTB is failing at its mission can be read here and here. There are many others. The reality is so far from the brochure's claims, you have to laugh to keep from crying.

As citizens in a democracy, we can do something when our government fails us. We can complain to the agency in question, of course. We can also complain to our Congressional representatives. With so many fails we have to pick our fights and TTB Rule 5.36(d) is a good place to start. That was the subject of a post here two weeks ago.

One of the people who started this movement is Wade Woodard, who lives in Houston. His rep is Gene Green, who proudly represents the Texas 29th. Rep. Green responded quickly to Mr. Woodard's letter.

Although there are 5.36(d) violators all over the country, Texas is significant because there are several non-distiller producers (NDPs) there who try to create the illusion that their sourced whiskeys are made in Texas when they're not. Naturally, they don't comply with rule 5.36(d) which requires them to put "distilled in Indiana" or "distilled in Kentucky" on the label, which would destroy that illusion.

This doesn't sit well with Texans like Mr. Woodard. Rep. Green doesn't care for it either. He wrote, "As a proud Texan, I firmly oppose businesses importing goods and falsely labeling them as being made in our state." He has promised to write a letter to the Commissioner of the TTB about our allegations, and asking how they are enforcing the labeling requirements and investigating potential violations.

Good for Rep. Green. We need more like him.

To that end, here's what you need to do, all of you committed bourbon lovers out there. Do what Mr. Woodard did and write to your representative about 5.36(d). There's a sample letter here. By all means, personalize it. Tell your representative why this is important to you. Then send copies to the following.

Rep. John Yarmuth
Co-Chair Congressional Bourbon Caucus
403 Cannon House Office Building
U. S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Rep. Brett Guthrie
Co-Chair Congressional Bourbon Caucus
308 Cannon House Office Building
U. S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Frank Coleman
SVP Distilled Spirits Council
1250 Eye Street, NW, Suite 400
Washington, D.C. 20005

Eric Gregory
President, Kentucky Distillers’ Association
614 Shelby Street
Frankfort KY 40601

Victoria I. McDowell
Executive Director
The Presidents' Forum of the Distilled Spirits Industry
4601 N. Park Ave., Suite 1721
Chevy Chase, Maryland 20815


Chuck Cowdery said...

It should be noted that 5.65(e) plays into this too.

"(e) Place of origin. The advertisement shall not represent that the distilled spirits were manufactured in or imported from a place or country other than that of their actual origin, or were produced or processed by one who was not in fact the actual producer or processor."

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this, Chuck. This is worth doing. BTW,The links to the TTB brochure seem broken.

Chuck Cowdery said...

This just in. Some lawyers are fishing around to see if there might be a class action lawsuit in this.