Infused Alcoholic Beverages Continue Steeping Woes in Tennessee

Infused Alcoholic Beverages Continue Steeping Woes in Tennessee

Infused alcoholic beverages are back in the limelight in Tennessee. Tennessee ABC agents visited a number of restaurants and bars over the past week to inspect infused spirits.

Not all of the visits were exactly friendly. We hear that agents seized infused spirits from at least a handful of bars. We also hear that some of the product has been returned to bars.

Regular readers may be asking, what gives? I thought the ABC agreed to stay enforcement against infusions until a formal rule could be enacted? We covered the news here.

Infused beverages are not standard fare at Tennessee watering holes. Lynyrd Skynyrd gets it:

And all those high-falutin' society people 
I don't care if they don't understand

Earlier today, October 10, 2013, we discussed the recent enforcement actions with Keith Bell, the Tennessee ABC Director. Mr. Bell assures us that the stay on prosecution of infusions is intact.

The ABC is currently focused on labeling of infusions, which was one of the major concerns behind the original enforcement action.

Infusions are often concocted and served from large clear glass containers. Another popular method is to pour infusions back into a bottle of the base spirit - for example, serving an infused Absolut Tootsie roll vodka from an Absolut bottle.

From the ABC's perspective, consumers do not know what they are ordering or drinking. Consumers do not know who made the infusion or how old it is. When infusions originally were targeted, the ABC cited heath concerns because of complaints from the Knoxville area of rotten fruit in infused vessels.

How can I safely sell infused alcoholic beverages in Tennessee? Based on our discussion today with the ABC, labeling is key. Any publicly visible container of infused spirits should have  a label that states:

1. Who made the infusion: For example "House-made."

2. What is in the infusion: For example "Tito's Vodka infused with lime, cayenne and anchovies."

3. The trade name of the infusion: For example: "Fiery fishy frenzy." Avoid using the spirit name in the trade name. The ABC indicated that names like "Titio's cayenne-spiced anchovy infusion" are problematic. Use of the brand name creates the impression that the infusion is made by Tito's.

4. When the infusion was made: For example "Infused from June 2013 to date."

5. If the infusion contains ingredients that may spoil, an expiration date: For example "Consume by January 2014." Expiration dates are not going to be scientific. We advise good judgment and a date that is far enough out to sell the product.

If your restaurant or bar serves infused spires, we encourage proper labeling and checking back with us as this issue continues to develop.

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