I work all night, I work all day…And still there never seems to be a single penny left for me

By - October 28, 2012 | Alcoholic Beverage Law | Email Will Cheek

How bad could it be to “forget” to pay federal taxes on making wine or spirits? Abba gets it in the hit “Money, Money, Money:”

I work all night, I work all day, to pay the bills I have to pay
Ain’t it sad
And still there never seems to be a single penny left for me

But failing to pay Uncle Sam is bad. Real bad.

The owner of Monterey Wine and Spirits, Brenda Jo Kibbee, 41 of Salinas, Calif., was arrested in October and arraigned in federal court on 11 counts of failure to pay federal excise tax on wine. Ms. Kibbee is accused of failing to pay $581,177 in taxes.

The maximum penalty for failure to pay tax on wine is five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 or 2 times the gross gain or loss.



Goliath Enters Moonshine Market: Jack Daniel’s Unaged Rye Whiskey

By - October 27, 2012 | Alcoholic Beverage Law | Email Will Cheek

Recent changes in Tennessee distillery laws have paved the path for several new whiskey distilleries. New brands like Popcorn Sutton, Ole Smokey and Short Mountain Shine have sprung up across the state.

But a new product from the godfather of Tennessee whiskey has raised serious eyebrows among industry observers: Jack Daniel’s Unaged Rye Whiskey.

Jack’s new rye whiskey is a bold move for an established brand.  One  industry blog calls it the first new mashbill from Jack Daniel’s in over 100 years.

We are frankly surprised to see Jack’s introduction of an unaged product. New distilleries understandably sell unaged whiskey, which allows the distillery to make some money while it waits several years until whiskey can age. The aging process is one of the biggest barriers to entering the whiskey business – a distillery has to wait 3 to 5 years until its whiskey is aged and comparable to its competitors – Jack Daniels and George Dickel.

Read a review of the new Jack Daniel whiskey here.

You Say You Want a Revolution at the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission?

By - October 27, 2012 | Alcoholic Beverage Law | Email Will Cheek

Trick or Treat from the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission. On All Hallows Eve, two long-standing key TABC employees, Director Danielle Elks and Debbie Roberts, are retiring. Sherry Farris retires on November 15.

We expected Ms. Elks’ retirement, but the loss of two more  seasoned staff members could lead to new delays with liquor licensing in Tennessee. The TABC is already short staffed.

Keith Bell, the heir apparent to the directorship at the TABC, has plans to reassign work to other staff members, but no one at the TABC is twiddling their thumbs looking for more work. In addition, the learning curve for Ms. Roberts’ job in particular is intense – many of the rules for applications and operation of retail package stores, wholesalers and distilleries are not written. Ms. Elks and Ms. Roberts are the repository for decades of unwritten rules and procedures.

Folks should expect delays with all new applications, including liquor-by-the-drink, as well as renewals. File in advance and plan on things taking more time.

Big Liquor Busts for Nashville Bars

By - October 04, 2012 | Alcoholic Beverage Law | Email Will Cheek

Coordinated enforcement actions were executed the first weekend in October against several Nashville bars, according to reliable sources. Metro police, beer inspectors, fire marshals and Tennessee ABC agents teamed up to conduct compliance checks at 12th & Porter and nightclub mai.

We hear that more locations were targeted.

Tennessee ABC attorneys have told us that the agency is going to take a more aggressive position on key enforcement issues: sales to minors, intoxicated patrons and inadequate food service.

We have heard that ABC agents were not pleased about the amount of food inventory at one club. The agents threatened a citation for revocation of the liquor license.

The bar in question apparently had only enough food on hand to serve a handful of patrons.

We strongly encourage all limited service licensees to beef up food inventory. There is no reason not to have a decent supply of non-perishable food inventory. Efforts to feature food should be prominent. Kitchens should be open late enough to serve the crowd.

The ABC has made it clear to us that food service is a major enforcement issue. With the passage of limited service licensing, from the ABC’s perspective, there is no excuse for bars not to have food available for patrons.

For decades, ABC agents looked the other way on food because there was no realistic way for bars to meet the 50% food service requirement. The ABC seems to telling the bar industry that everyone needs to comply now that the law has been fixed.

Your license is at stake.