The distilled spirits industry rakes in tens of billions of dollars each year. When you’re in the business of crafting and selling distilled spirits, you know that the right label is crucial for your brand’s success. Beyond aesthetics, you must ensure your label complies with liquor labeling requirements.
Labeling requirements for distilled spirits
Alcoholic beverages like distilled spirits and malt beverages have different labeling requirements than non-alcoholic beverages and food products, which are regulated by the FDA. Liquor labeling requirements are established and enforced by the Federal Alcohol Administration (FAA) Act and the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB).
Compliance with alcoholic beverage product labels is strictly regulated. In fact, it’s illegal for wholesalers, bottlers and consumers to tamper with or remove labels from distilled spirit products. Therefore, it’s important to understand the mandatory label information and the TTB approval process.
Mandatory label information
Generally, all mandatory label information for distilled spirits must be placed within the same field of vision on the label. This means that consumers should be able to see all required information without turning the product’s container. These details can be located on the front, back or side label.
You should always examine the labeling requirements yourself to ensure full compliance. Here’s an overview of what you must include:
- Brand name: The name used for marketing the alcoholic product.
- Class or type designation: The type of distilled spirits.
- Alcohol content: Stated in percent alcohol by volume (ABV).
- Age statements: Required for some distilled spirits like whiskey or brandy.
- Color ingredient disclosure: Include this if coloring materials are added to the product.
- Treatment and flavoring with wood: A disclosure statement is needed if applicable.
- Saccharin: Include a disclosure statement if present.
- Aspartame: Include a separate statement if the product contains aspartame.
- Sulfite declaration: This is required when the product contains ten or more parts per million of sulfur dioxide.
- Commodity statement: Use this to disclose the percentage of neutral spirits (if applicable).
- Health warning statement: This is a required warning about the effects of alcohol consumption.
- Contact information: The name and mailing address of the distillery.
- Net contents: The amount of product inside.
- Country of origin: This applies to imported distilled spirit products.
- State of distillation: This is only required for certain types of U.S.-origin whiskey.
- Low carb and gluten-free claims: If you’re making these claims about your product, specific criteria must be met.
- Allergen labeling: While currently exempt, this may change in the future.
Approvals and revisions
Whether you’re introducing a new distilled spirits product or revising an existing label, you must apply to the TTB for label certification. Once approved, the TTB issues a Certificate of Label Approval (COLA). This usually takes about a week.
When making changes to an existing distilled spirits product, you may need to revise your label. In such cases, you must submit a new application to the TTB for certification and receive approval before distributing the product.
Find labeling solutions for your distilled spirits line
When you’re ready to start packaging your distilled spirits, Quadrel has the labeling solutions you need. Browse our current selection of pressure sensitive systems, or reach out to our team to learn more about custom options.