If you thought the federal government shutdown wasn't affecting you in any negative way because your child doesn't attend a Head Start pre-school and you're not dependent on any form of social service, think again. If you're someone who enjoys new and exciting booze, someone who pre-ordered one of our new Faultline bottles, or someone who looks forward to a new Ardbeg release each season, then you can forget about anything new coming down the pipeline until the federal government decides to reopen.
Without the federal government and the TTB, no new alcohol labels can be approved for the American market place, which means no new products can arrive.
You see, in order for a bottle of liquor to be sold in the United States, the label must first be authorized by the Alcohol & Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. The wording has to be correct, the percentage of alcohol listed, and various other requirements have to be checked off before you can bring your liquor to town. You don't have to re-approve a label that's already been cleared, so the government shutdown won't impact your getting a bottle of Stagg or Pappy Van Winkle (general pandemonium will prevent you from that), but it will affect anything new from arriving later on this December and into the new year. Any new whisky that's been in the works will have to wait in label limbo until our elected representatives can figure out how to get along again.
How has the government shutdown affected K&L? It's totally fucked us. We are currently filling a container in Scotland with the new Faultline selections we've been pre-selling, along with the three casks from Bladnoch we had bottled recently, however, we still need more booze to justify paying for the transport. We had that space allocated for the Sovereign malts we committed to, but guess what? We didn't get label approval for the Sovereign whiskies before the shutdown occurred. We were in the queue, but the "Out to Lunch" sign went up before we made it through. Now, with each passing day that goes by, a logjam of label approvals is building, making it likely that any pending approvals will be delayed long into the holiday season, which of course is when the government takes its holiday.
What does this mean? It could mean a lot of things. Our plans are in total disarray at the moment and I'm sure we're not alone. If Glenmorangie plans on bringing out a new expression in early 2014, they won't be doing so unless their label was approved long in advance. If Ardbeg wants to release a new committee bottling in the Spring, they might have to start changing their plans. If the 750ml bottle size wasn't enough to deter foreign whisky companies from bringing us their products already, our gutless government might be the final nail in the coffin. In our case, the goal of bringing you some older Islay casks this holiday season has been completely abandoned. Any ideas we have for new Faultline selections, new casks, or exciting products are on hold for now. We can secure the booze, design the label, and commit to quantities, but it's not going anywhere until Washington starts back up.
We can't keep doing our job until the government starts doing theirs. Any time now, people.