The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau have published new final rules. One part amends the regulations involving the filling of wine and distilled spirits containers. It also updates the labeling regulations for distilled spirits and malt beverages. The connection here is that both updates regulate the size, kind of container, branding, marking, sale, resale, use, reuse, and possession of distilled spirits and wine containers. Each went into effect on December 29, 2020.
Standard of fill
This addresses the amount of actual liquid in the container versus the container’s size or capacity. There will be metric standards starting with 3 liters, 1.5 liters, and 1 liter down in increments to 187 milliliters, 100 milliliters and finally 50 milliliters. Wine packaging is similar but may be larger. If larger, it must use whole liters of measurement: 4 liters, 5 liters, 6 liters, etc. Liquor tops out at 1.75 liters but also goes down to 50 milliliters. There are additional variations involving cans or metal containers as well. Malt beverages have no standards of fill guidelines, but the manufacturer must display the net amount on the label.
The headspace is the empty part of the sealed beverage container that is not filled with liquid. The rule is now that any liquor bottle 200 milliliters or larger must not have more than 8% of the total container capacity set aside for headspace. Those containers over that percentage will be considered misleading.
Not sure what to do?
There is additional information provided by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau’s website, but these may be difficult to understand. Those businesses with questions often find it helpful to consult with an attorney who provides legal guidance to those who manufacture, buy or sell alcoholic beverages.