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Baby Mouse Wine

A few months ago, an industry newsletter brought news of Baby Mouse Wine and other delicacies oddities from around the world. Since then, the email has been clogging up my inbox, as I attempt to track down this libation. The article was originally in Forbes and had this to say about the mouse wine:

Like the name suggests, this is a rice wine containing baby mice. Best prepare, this explanation isn’t for the faint of heart. Baby mice are taken soon after being born, and dropped, alive, into a bottle of rice wine. The “rules” state that they must be under 72 hours old and their eyes must still be closed. After about a dozen of the little guys are in, the bottle is left to ferment and age for a year. Most people reading this are probably feeling a little uncomfortable right about now, but in Asia, the drink is bound by tradition and goes back centuries. The country of origin is debated to this day. Whether it came from Korea or China, the wine is said to greatly help asthma patients and people with liver disease.

I am simultaneously relieved and disappointed, that I can’t find any of this in the TTB database. If there is a more exotic product out there, I have yet to see it, and I don’t think all the saliva- and snake-type products even come close. I was hoping to take this story to the next level by finding some related approvals and reviewing the legal hoops involved. Sadly, instead, I will have to settle for merely adding a few photos that Forbes was far too genteel to publish. Like these .

A Surprisingly High Number of Virginia Wineries Are Not Registering their Trademarks

Several wineries in the Commonwealth of Virginia are not federally registering their wine brands as trademarks. We compared the number of wineries in all 50 states (and the District of Columbia) to the number of federal wine trademark applications/registrations, and here are the results . As you will see, while Virginia comes in eighth place among all states regarding the total number of wineries (360 wineries according to TTB ), Virginia wineries are in tradethe bottom half of all states (28th place) when it comes to federal trademark applications and registrations per winery (409 applications/registrations, or just above 1 trademark application/registration per winery). This rate drops to about 7 applications/registrations per 10 wineries when you add in pending winery licensees (573, according to Virginia ABC). This rate would be even lower if we considered the almost certainty that some of the applicants/registrants are private label brand owners that do not themselves own a winery.

This begs the question, “Why are so many Virginia wineries foregoing federal trademark applications?” There are some legitimate reasons why a company should not try to federally register its brands as trademarks. Read more on that here . In our experience, these situations are few and far between. More likely, we expect that many Virginia wineries may not understand the benefits of trademark registration, may overestimate the costs of trademark registrations and applications, or may simply be too busy dealing with the day-to-day duties of running a winery. In such cases, the wineries may be missing out on what is often a fleeting opportunity to stake an early claim to exclusive rights in their brands.

Read the rest of this article here .

How Distilleries and Spirits Brand Owners Can Take Advantage of the New Tax Laws

In late 2017, Congress passed the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act (CBMTRA) as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 . The CBMTRA cut the Federal Excise Tax (FET) on distilled spirits from $13.50 a proof gallon to $2.70 a proof gallon for the first 100,000 proof gallons (approximately 52,631 9-liter cases of 80 proof spirits) removed from bond for consumption or sale in 2018 or 2019.

The rules for distilleries to qualify for the reduced FET are fairly straightforward. To take advantage of the reduced FET on their first 100,000 proof gallons removed from bond in 2018 and 2019, a distillery must distill or process those spirits. TTB’s definition of “process” is somewhat broad, but includes mixing, rectifying, and bottling. Therefore, a distillery who purchases whiskey or vodka in bulk, and bottles it at their facility, should be eligible to pay the lower FET rate, provided they have not removed more than 100,000 proof gallons in the current calendar year, and the current calendar year is either 2018 or 2019.

Read the rest of this article here .


I always sort of knew my wife would end up in Time Magazine, with Donald Trump and a bottle of whiskey. The Time article about Margie Lehrman, ACSA, whiskey — and even George Washington — is here .

The key part says:

What is bad news for consumers is worse news for distillers in the U.S. says Margie Lehrman, executive director of the American Craft Spirits Association — especially small and medium-sized businesses. “The EU is a very important market for craft producers who have really boomed in recent years, creating 20,000 new jobs,” she says. “The President should consider the impact not only on the companies but also on the communities that they’re working in. These distilleries have often brought life and even tourism to run-down parts of towns, that previously people just didn’t go to.”

Lehrman also questions the sincerity of Trump’s “America First” rhetoric. “It’s a shame whiskey has been caught up in this because if you go back to the roots of our country, with George Washington having a distillery at Mount Vernon, it’s really American heritage that’s being attacked here,” she says. “We urge the E.U. and the U.S. to work together to fix this and a stance that is mutually beneficial.”


I was fully prepared to do a whole bunch of client work on this quiet day after Easter, but then Jaycee showed me a new Industry Circular. It is 2018-2 , entitled Expansion of Allowable Changes to Approved Alcohol Beverage Labels . It adds some interesting new allowances, beyond the many set out here and here and here , etc. At first, the Circular looked pretty text-y and so it was hard to gauge the significance. To make it more visual, I prepared the above. It is easier to comprehend if you click on it , to expand it into its full glory (with all due apologies to Four Roses for monkeying with their back label). TTB seems to be on a roll, to expand the allowable revisions. It is quite a departure from the agency of a decade or two ago, not especially enamored of such changes. I wonder to what extent these allowable revisions are having a marked impact on the number of labels submitted.

To understand the image, the green lines show allowable revisions , and the red lines show revisions that would not be allowable without a new COLA . The lines go in order and roughly correspond to the order in the Circular:

    1. I made the label a bit bigger to accommodate the new text, and this line is just showing it’s ok to change the shape and size of an approved label, based on an earlier announcement ( item 3, here ).
    2. It’s ok to add, delete or swap among the TTB-approved instructional statements. This one is on the list so it’s ok.
    3. Similarly, it’s ok to add, delete or swap among the TTB-approved responsibility statements. This one is ok to add, on this back label, because it’s on the list.
    4. Once again, ok to add, delete or swap among the TTB-approved environmental statements.
    5. I have added a food pairing recommendation and it’s ok because it’s pretty in line with those allowed on the list.

  1. Even though this one is very similar to 1., it’s not ok because it’s not on the approved list.
  2. This one is quite similar to 2., but not ok because it’s not on the list.
  3. Similar to 3., but not on the list so not ok.
  4. Similar to 4., not not ok because not on the list.
  5. This one is a bit trickier. This indicates a change from a glass bottle to a bag-in-box. The Circular says:  “TTB wishes to caution industry members about using this allowable revision when changing between different types of containers, for example, when changing from a keg label to a bottle label, or from a bottle label to a bag-in-a-box label.  Labels for different types of containers usually look very different and may contain label information specific to the container type (e.g., instructions for serving from a bag-in-a-box container) or different graphics. … These restrictions make it unlikely that you will be able to use a label approved for one type of container for a different type of container without submitting the new label to TTB for approval.” Here, the front v. back probably changed, and it’s arguable that the spigot side would be the brand label, so it’s not an especially good idea to assume ARTAL alone would save anyone.

If you have any great ideas for how to expand the list still further, let us know.

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