Whiskey Brands Negatively Impacted by Government Shutdown


October 1, 2013

The government shutdown will impact new whiskey and other alcohol brands. U.S. Alcohol & Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) has suspended all non-excepted operations, according to a statement on its website.

“However, there will be no access to TTB’s eGovernment applications including, but not limited to, Permits Online, Formulas Online, and COLAs online.  Other information on the web site may not be up to date, and TTB will not be able to respond to questions or comments submitted via the web site until appropriations are enacted.

“TTB will suspend all non-excepted TTB operations, and no personnel will be available to respond to any inquiries, including emails, telephone calls, facsimiles, or other communications. The web site and operations will fully resume when appropriations are reenacted.  TTB has directed employees NOT to report to work and they are prohibited by federal law from volunteering their services during a lapse in appropriations.”

What does this mean? Well, this slows down the already slow process of receiving government label approval. In the past, whiskey brands have reported labels taking anywhere from three months to a year to receive approval.

Depending on the shutdown length, this will create a significant backlog on new labels. The TTB said: “Once funding has been restored, and the government shutdown is over, we will work to restore regular service as soon as possible.”

Buffalo Trace Distillery says the popular distillery likely has label approvals pending, but no one has panicked over the TTB shutdown.

Tuthilltown Spirits’ Gable Erenzo says the craft distillery was planning to submit its new gin variant, Half Moon Gin, for approval with intent of an early 2014 release. “This {government shutdown} will hold it up,” Erenzo says.”With all the craft distilleries out there, there are probably a lot of labels being held up. We tend to be outside of the mainstream because we make so little, but this could definitely impact craft distilling.”

Brown-Forman spokesperson Phil Lynch says no spirits company  can submit new product formulas or new/revised labels during the government shutdown.  “How big of an impact depends on how long the shutdown goes on.  The shorter the better, and the least impact,” Lynch says.