Bad Booze Busts in Jersey: What is the Magical True Spirit Authenticator? Does Anyone Really Know?

By - May 27, 2013 | Alcoholic Beverage Law | Email Will Cheek

Like most alcohol aficionados, the recent tainted booze bust in New Jersey reinforced a suspected but previously unproven belief: unscrupulous bar owners pour cheap hooch into good booze bottles. Short of catching someone in the act of pouring, we knew of no way to confirm our suspicion.

New Jersey officials refer to a  “True Spirit Authenticator” as being key to their tests. Is the True Spirit Authenticator some old geezer with exceptional taste buds?

We Googled for about half an hour and found next to nothing about this new magic technology. Although the domain TRUESPIRITAUTHENTICATOR.COM was registered in 2011 by a British resident, the website a redirect, which makes us think it is occupied by a cyber squatter.

We found a brief mention to the bewitching technology on page 6 of the August 2012 edition of Beverage Media. According to the blurb:

Truespirit Authenticator Instrument is a portable ultravioletspectro photo meter that can be used on-site. It works with clear, golden and brown spirits, detecting if the liquid is adulterated or counterfeit; and it can do so in 30 seconds.

Unfortunately, the referenced website is under construction.

However, one clue clicked. The domain registration for and the address at are both in Hampshire England. Coincidence?

We do know that there is technology to test liquid samples. Once again, our friends at Google let us down. Our search “Can a UV/Vis spectrophotometer with a double monochromator tell what brand of alcohol is tested?” lead to much information about spectrophotometry and UV/VIS double beam spectrophotometers. But no information about a portable device and very little reference to testing alcoholic beverages.

We e-mailed for more information and will update this post if we receive a reply.

Tennessee ABC Appoints Keith Bell as Director

By - May 25, 2013 | Alcoholic Beverage Law | Email Will Cheek

It became official at the May 21, 2013 meeting of the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission. ABC Interim Director Keith Bell was appointed Director. The ABC Director is a statutory position for the chief staff member at the ABC: the head honcho, the man, the big cheese.

Director Bell has goals for the ABC. In the works is a web-based permitting system for new and renewing server permits. We concur that the server permit process is a mess and welcome changes for the better.

According to Director Bell, “server permitting is just the first stage of our three stage goal to better utilize today’s technology for the benefit of the agency and those who do business with us.”

Director Bell has previously indicated that he intends to clean up the ABC by enforcing the liquor laws as written, and if the laws are unfair, encouraging the laws to be changed.

We caught up with Director Bell via e-mail to share a little about what he does outside the office.

What do you do for fun? “Play as much golf as my wife will allow and spoil our great-nieces and nephews.”

What kind of music do you enjoy? “60’s and 70’s Rock, Southern Rock, Motown and Soul, the music I grew up on, and of course a lot of today’s country. “

What is your favorite beverage? “Canada Dry, sparkling lime water and good coffee.”

TTB Frontman Frosty Chapman Heads for the Restful and Enthralling Farm

By - May 24, 2013 | Alcoholic Beverage Law | Email Will Cheek

TTB state liaison Frosty Chapman is famous for his two-word dichotomous greetings to regulators and industry members in the weekly TTB e-newsletter.

You are probably wondering: what is a two-word dichotomous greeting?  In this week’s TTB newsletter, Frosty says: “Greetings! We hope you are having a peaceful and productive week!”  We recently linked to a TTB post where Frosty said: “Greetings! We hope you have a brilliant and thankworthy week!”

We will miss Frosty’s weekly TTB updates. More importantly, we will miss Frosty’s invaluable help navigating federal alcohol laws. Best wishes, Frosty.

Update – Tennessee ABC Bans Infused Drinks at Restaurants

By - May 23, 2013 | Alcoholic Beverage Law | Email Will Cheek

This is an update. The ABC Director has confirmed that the ABC will not issue any citations for restaurants infusing while the issue is discussed between the ABC and attorneys for the industry.

We recommend that restaurants continue infusing until the issue is finally resolved with the ABC, but be working on plans to phase out infusion if the ABC ultimately prohibits infusing for restaurants.

Here is our original post on the issue.

We first discovered infused spirits in the early 1990’s at the then trendsetting China Grill in Miami Beach. We were inspired by the tasty concoction of Saki steeped with fruit, and attempted to replicate the cocktail at home, with limited success. Our version never matched the superb infusion at China Grill.

Word about infused vodkas, rums and other spirits spread over the ensuing decade. Many restaurants began offering their own infused cocktails, including well-known national chains.

Earlier this month, the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission began informing restaurants that spirit infusion requires a manufacturer’s license. Restaurants were instructed by ABC agents to immediately cease making and serving infused spirits. A copy of a memo being distributed by ABC agents is below.


From ‘grain to glass,’ local farms supply liquor makers

By - May 06, 2013 | Alcoholic Beverage Law | Email Will Cheek

The Tennessean gave great coverage to the local booze movement; the corollary to the local food movement. Although the story is an AP article about a New York distillery, it is still a good read.  Ironic that The Tennessean trumpets local booze, but does not cover any of the local distilleries or breweries that are living the dream of making local hooch from local grains, hops and other Tennessee-grown crops.

Cheers to the many Tennessee distillers and brewers that are making the Tennessee beer and spirits movement a reality.

Tennessee Legislature Follows Ben Franklin’s Advice and Shares Some Love with Beer Nerds

By - May 05, 2013 | Alcoholic Beverage Law | Email Will Cheek

Tennessee is not known for progressive liquor laws. But this legislative session was unusually beer friendly and produced some important new laws for beer nerds.

Founding father Ben Franklin understood our love for beer:

Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

Beer nerds are rejoicing over a new Tennessee law that lowers the tax on better beer. Currently, Tennessee taxes beer based on price, meaning that more expensive beer has a higher tax. Under the new tax regime, beer is taxed by volume, meaning that beer is taxed at the same rate, regardless of price.

The new law gained considerable attention because Tennessee beer taxes are generally ranked as highest in the nation. The old tax scheme was particularly offensive to beer connoisseurs, since PBR was taxed at a much lower rate than Magic Hat.

Over time, the change in taxation will lower the cost of better beer for Tennessee beer fans.

Another new law fixed a brewpub problem. Most brewpubs recently had to stop selling growlers because the ABC started enforcing a law that prohibits LBD licensees from selling beer to go. The new law fixes this problem.

Last but not least, a new distillery law may pave the way for breweries to offer high alc beer in taprooms and sell high alc beer to go in bottles, cans and kegs. Tennessee’s peculiar liquor laws classify stronger beer as alcoholic beverages, subject to completely different laws than regular beer. The distinction between high alc and regular beer in Tennessee is relatively unique and presents an array of impediments to beer nerds.

It’s time for a toast:

To the holidays—all 365 of them.

Tennessee ABC on the Road

By - May 02, 2013 | Alcoholic Beverage Law | Email Will Cheek

The Nashville headquarters of the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission is on the move to new offices. Per the TABC website:

The 226 Capitol Boulevard office’s last day will be Friday May 10th and opening in the new location on Monday May 13th.

Willie Nelson’s classic song is firmly embedded in our cranium:

On the road again
Just can’t wait to get on the road again.
The life I love is making music with my friends

In the end, moving to a better office or home is a good thing. But the act of moving can really suck.

Anyone that has moved knows that when all your stuff is in boxes, it is nearly impossible to find what you need. We all have ordered pizza or Chinese while trying to unpack and organize a new home.

Many files at the ABC are already in boxes. We are advising folks to expect delays with licensing and other ABC services during the next couple of weeks.

The new offices of the Nashville ABC will be:

State of Tennessee Office Building
Davy Crockett Tower
500 James Robertson Parkway, 3rd Floor
Nashville, Tennessee 37243

We wish the TABC staff well with the move.