Fight Rages Over Definition of Tennessee Whiskey

A battle between two worldwide liquor companies — owners of rival brands Jack Daniel’s and smaller rival George Dickel — is being waged over who has the right to label their whiskey as following authentic Tennessee style.

It’s among the epicurean battles being waged around the world over what food and drink should carry special status as local and unique.

British-based liquor conglomerate Diageo PLC on Tuesday prevailed in getting state regulators to drop an investigation into allegations that Dickel violated state law by aging its whiskey in neighboring Kentucky.

The calm is likely to be short-lived. State lawmakers this summer are expected to once again consider changes to the legal definition of Tennessee whiskey, which is as entwined in the state’s identity as Maine lobsters and Maryland crab cakes. (AP)

Jim Beam Fills 13th Million Barrel of Bourbon

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Jim Beam has filled its 13th million barrel of bourbon since the repeal of Prohibition.

he company released a statement saying the barrel was personally filled and sealed by Beam’s great-grandson, Fred Noe, at a distillery in Clermont, Kentucky.

The milestone comes less than three years after Beam filled its 12 millionth barrel.

The company says the 13th million barrel is a bourbon industry first. (CNN)

Expansion Planned at Maker’s Mark Distillery

The producers of Maker’s Mark bourbon have announced a distillery expansion to keep pace with growing demand for the Kentucky whiskey.

The $67 million expansion announced Thursday comes about a year after the brand caused a stir. In early 2013, the whiskey known for its bottles sealed in red wax announced it was cutting the amount of alcohol in each bottle to stretch supplies. After backlash from customers, Maker’s Mark quickly scrapped the idea and restored the alcohol volume to its typical level.

The expansion was in the works long before the flap and it comes amid growing sales at Maker’s.

The brand shipped more than 1 million cases in 2011 and it forecasts shipments to reach 2 million cases later this decade. (AP)

Limited Whiskey Sells for Nearly $4,000 Per Bottle

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A new whiskey created in Kentucky features a blend of age and scarcity that spiked demand — and its price.

Whiskey fans including celebrities and CEOs are angling to snatch up the fewer than 300 bottles of Michter’s Celebration Sour Mash Whiskey at nearly $4,000 per bottle.

Limited-edition offerings with heftier prices are common as American whiskey-makers dabble in new flavors to lure more customers. But this latest offering by Louisville-based Michter’s Distillery is bringing the high end of the American whiskey business closer to the rarest bottles of Scotch, cognac and brandy.

The Michter’s product reaches shelves Monday in select liquor stores, restaurants, bars and hotels in a handful of U.S. cities. (AP)

Heavy Rain May Mean Soggy Harvest of Oregon Grapes

Heavy rains may make for a soggy harvest in Oregon’s wine country.

In the southern Willamette Valley, for instance, the Eugene Register-Guard reports (http://bit.ly/1bV9Yuh ) that with heavy precipitation the past two weeks, September rainfall is more than four times the local average.

That threatens grapes with mildew, rot, dilution and splitting.

Cold days and nights shut some vines down for the winter, causing leaves to turn orange and vines to begin leaching sugars from the grapes.

The conditions are especially tough on Oregon’s prize but finicky pinot noir grapes.

It may be weeks or months, though, before winemakers can assess the impact of the rain on this year’s wines.

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Information from: The Register-Guard, http://www.registerguard.com (AP)

Turkey Introduces Warning Labels for Alcohol

Bottles and cans of alcohol sold in Turkey must soon bear warnings similar to those on cigarette packages, reminding drinkers that “Alcohol is not your friend.”

The new regulations about the labels are the result of a law passed in May that restricts the sale and advertising of alcohol.

The law was one reason a wave of anti-government protests hit Turkey in June.

Demonstrators served it up as an example of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan overstepping his authority and imposing his Islamist views on a country with a strong secular history.

The labels also must indicate that only people over the age of 18 can consume alcohol and warn pregnant women and drivers not to drink.

Companies have 10 months to comply with the regulations, which were released Sunday. (AP)

AP: USPS Eyes Possible Alcohol Deliveries

Special delivery from the post office – beer, wine and spirits, if Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe has his way.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Donahoe said Thursday delivery of alcoholic beverages is on his wish list as the agency considers ways to raise revenue and save money after losing $16 billion last year. He also said he endorses ending most door-to-door and Saturday mail deliveries as a way to help stabilize the service’s finances.

Donahoe said delivering alcohol has the potential to raise as much as $50 million a year. He mentioned how customers might want to, for example, mail bottles of wine home when they tour vineyards. Donahoe said his agency has looked at the possibility of using special boxes that would hold two, four or six bottles and ship for a flat-rate anywhere in the country.

“There’s a lot of money to be made in beer, wine and spirits,” Donahoe said. “We’d like to be in that business.”

The Postal Service says mailing alcoholic beverages is currently restricted by law. Customers are even told to cover any logos or labels if they use alcoholic beverage boxes for shipments.

The agency is also urging changes in how it delivers the mail. A House committee has passed legislation to stabilize the Postal Service’s ailing finances that would cut letter deliveries to five days and phase out door-to-door deliveries over 10 years. The bill does not include a provision to allow the agency to deliver alcohol.

The Senate passed a postal reform bill last year that included a provision allowing the agency to deliver alcohol. The bill would require that such shipments would have to comply with any state laws where the shipment originated and was delivered. The measure also said the recipient would have to be at least 21 years old and would need to provide valid, government-issued photo identification upon delivery.

The agency faces $15 billion in losses this year and is working toward restructuring its retail, delivery and mail processing operations.

“We don’t want to take any more debt on,” Donahoe said. “We want to be able to get profitable, pay it down, just like any other business would, so that you stay strong for the future.”

The service’s losses are largely due to a decline in mail volume and a congressional requirement that it make advance payments to cover expected health care costs for future retirees. About $11.1 billion of last year’s losses were due to the health care payments.

Donahoe said over the last decade, the mail volume at his agency’s trademark blue boxes has dropped 60 percent.

“That’s our most profitable mail,” he said. “That will continue to drop off because people pay bills online. And we understand that, it’s easy, it’s free, and so we have to continue to make changes.”

On a bright note, Donahoe said the volume of packages the service handles has grown considerably in recent years, a trend he expects to continue.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee recently approved a plan for the service to gradually shift from door delivery to cluster box and curbside delivery, which includes mailboxes at the end of driveways. The agency has been moving toward curbside and cluster box delivery in new residential developments since the 1970s.

About 1 in 3 mail customers has door-to-door delivery. Some lawmakers have complained that ending home delivery in many densely developed urban areas would be difficult and pose hardships for many people, including the elderly and places where the weather can be harsh.

“We’d work with the communities,” Donahoe said, adding there would be special hardship exemptions for those physically unable to get their mail at centralized locations. “We want to figure out how to do it so people don’t get mad.”

Donahoe said there are ways to install centralized mail boxes that fit in well with the neighborhood and also don’t cause a lot of hardship for customers.

Some 30 million residential addresses receive delivery to boxes at the door or a mail slot. Another 87 million residential addresses receive curbside or cluster box delivery.

Door-to-door delivery costs the agency about $350 per year, on average. Curbside delivery costs average $224 per year for each address, while cluster box delivery averages $160.

The service earlier this year backpedaled on its plan to end Saturday mail delivery after running into opposition in Congress. It has tried repeatedly and unsuccessfully over the past several years to persuade Congress to approve ending Saturday mail delivery.

The National Association of Letter Carriers has said ending Saturday delivery would in particular hurt rural residents and the elderly who depend more heavily on the mail for prescription drugs and other goods. Donahoe said there would be a six-month implementation period to help smooth out any problems and that medicines would still be delivered on Saturdays.

The Senate last year passed a bill that would have stopped the Postal Service from eliminating Saturday service for at least two years and required it to try two years of cost-cutting instead. The House didn’t pass a bill.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)