Packaging

Because distilled spirits are packaged under federal government supervision and the product is then distributed to the various states in compliance with laws and regulations, many factors must be considered normally not involved in glass packaging. First, the product represents a high value, because it includes the federal tax at the time of bottling. In the United States, a bottle of whisky retailing at $5.44 is taxed at $3.11. Obviously, care must be taken to avoid losses. Second, in addition to dealing with cases, bottles, cartons, closures, and labels, the distiller must apply to each bottle a federal strip stamp indicating that the excise tax has been paid and also apply bottle stamps of the decal type to indicate identification or tax payment in the seven states that require these in their system of control. With the heavy investment in product taxes and the necessity of applying state stamps, the distiller's ability to build up a substantial case goods inventory to provide immediate service to his customers in those states having this requirement is limited. Third, because this is a licensed industry, in addition to the normal record keeping necessary for efficient operations and control, federal and state records are required.

Federal regulations prescribe and limit the standards of fill (size of containers). On October 1,1976, the adoption of the metric system permitted distillers to incorporate the new sizes into their operations as circumstances allow. Once the metric size is adopted for a brand, the distiller may not revert to the former standard.

Now, only the metric size will be permitted, such as 1.75 L (59.2 fl oz); 1.00 L (33.8 fl oz); 750 mL (25.4 fl oz); 500 mL (16.9 fl oz); 200 mL (6.8 fl oz); and 50 mL (1.7 fl oz). Individual states likewise limit the number of sizes that can be distributed within their borders and need not adopt all the sizes made available by the federal government.

The most common packaging operation utilized in the industry is the straight-line system with a line speed from 120 to 200 bottles/min. Along with the general progress in packaging, the distilling industry is moving in the direction of automatic-line operation with variable frequency control systems keyed to the fill and labeling operations. This is only possible, however, when volume on certain sizes is substantial. Most distillers are faced with mechanical equipment changes, requiring approximately four hours per line, to handle various sizes of bottles. In addition to material specifications for quality control on all supplies, built-in quality-control inspection systems are included on the bottling lines. Likewise, the quality-control department, independent of bottling operations, takes random samples for evaluation purposes.

Table 6. U.S. Commercial Exports of Liquor by Class 1996 (in wine gal.)

Class and type

Domestic whiskey

Bonded 0

Straight 8,293,519

Blended straights 34,814

Distilled over 160/p 2,355

Blended whiskey 158,576

Subtotal 8,489,264

Imported whiskey

Scotland and N. Ireland 31,515

Bottled in U.K. 0

Bottled in U.S. 31,616

Canadian 110,562

Bottled in Canada 0

Bottled in U.S. 110,562

Ireland and others 0

Subtotal 142,077

Total all whiskey 8,631,341

Domestic 553,942

Imported 0

Subtotal 553,942

Vodka

Domestic 6,008,700

Imported 0

Subtotal 6,008,700

Puerto Rico 1,034,908

Virgin Islands 89,834

Other domestic 244,789

Subtotal dom. rum 1,369,531

Subtotal imp. rum 0

Subtotal all run 1,369,531

Brandy

Domestic 260,337

Imported 0

Subtotal 260,337

Cordials and Specs.

Domestic 578,408

Imported 0

Subtotal 578,408

Cocktails and mixed drinks

Domestic 110,167

Imported 0

Subtotal 110,167

Tequila

Subtotal 308,068 Non-whiskey

Domestic 8,881,075

Imported 308,058

Total 9,183,133

Table 6. U.S. Commercial Exports of Liquor by Class 1996 (in wine gal.) (continued)

Class and type

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