Mexico Excludes Bev Alc from ‘Essential’ Biz List, but Tequila Finds a Loophole

Dear Client: 

The US has largely taken the stance that the alcohol industry is an “essential” business, allowing production to continue and (mostly) keeping liquor stores open amidst containment measures. But the Mexican government left bev alc off its list of essential services. 

On Tuesday, Mexico’s Diario Oficial de la Federacion (basically, their daily briefing) outlined “extraordinary actions in the affected regions of the entire territory” to combat “the serious disease of priority attention generated by the SARS-CoV2 virus (COVID-19).”  

Mexico has suspended all but essential operations in the country through April 30, “in order to mitigate the spread and transmission of the SARS-CoV2 virus in the community,” as many other countries have done. 

The “fundamental sectors of the economy” still allowed to operate include: “distribution and sale of energy, gas and gas stations, generation and distribution of drinking water, food and non-alcoholic beverages industry, food markets, supermarkets…agribusiness,” among others. 

Notably missing is beverage alcohol.  

“The only good news is that we saw this coming and imported a year’s worth of Tequila Ocho into the US before the situation became critical,” Samson & Surrey ceo Robert Furniss Roe tells WSD. 

The good news is that following the announcement that excluded alcohol from the list of essential services, the Governor of Jalisco Enrique Alfaro said in a press conference yesterday that the tequila industry is considered essential because it is closely related to the agriculture industry, which was listed as essential, sources tell WSD.

“However, as the crisis builds it seems inevitable that there will be supply constrictions,” says Robert. 

We’ll have more information as it rolls in. 


In 2018, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) proposed regulation updates as part of their effort to simplify advertising and labeling regulations [see WSD 11-27-2018]. Today, the agency posted the final rule. 

“We recognize that industry members have an interest in regulatory certainty, particularly with regard to policies that may affect the labeling of their products,” per a notice from the agency. The TTB provided a quick rundown of what’s been finalized and what will not be adopted (but will be considered in the future). To wit: 

Among other things, the rule finalizes:

  • An expanded alcohol content tolerance for distilled spirits
  • Brand label placement flexibility for distilled spirits
  • Allowing age statements for most types of distilled spirits
  • Allowing vintage dates for wine imported in bulk
  • Removing prohibition on strength claims for malt beverages

The following will not be adopted:

  • The proposal to define an “oak barrel” for purposes of aging distilled spirits
  • The proposal to require that statements of composition for distilled spirits specialty products list components in intermediate products
  • The proposal to require that distilled spirits statements of composition list distilled spirits and wines in order of predominance
  • The proposal to adopt new policies on the use of cross-commodity terms

“We greatly appreciate the effort that went into carefully reviewing the submissions and finalizing regulations that reflect today’s modern marketplace and provide distillers with greater flexibility to develop and market new innovative products,” per a statement from the Distilled Spirits Council. “We look forward to working with TTB to develop new standards of identity for American Single Malt Whiskey and American Rye Whiskey, which we fully support.”

The final rule takes effect in 30 days. To read it in its entirety, click here


In mid-March Pennsylvania closed the state-run liquor stores and put a stop to online sales. Yesterday, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) resumed limited sales on its website, per a release. 

“We understand the public wants to have access to wine and spirits during these unprecedented times, but we have a responsibility to mitigate community spread of this virus to every extent possible and make sure our employees and our customers are as safe as they can be,” says PLCB chairman Tim Holden. “We believe that re-opening in a controlled manner will allow us to provide access to consumers while also protecting our employees and consumers from unnecessary risk.”

Here’s what the agency means by “limited sales”:

  • Only accepting a controlled number of orders per day (with plans to increase order capacity as fulfillment capacity increases)
  • Limiting consumers to purchasing up to six bottles per transaction from a reduced catalogue of about 1,000 top-selling wines and spirits 
  • Only one order per address will be fulfilled per day

Moreover, access to the website will be “randomized to avoid overwhelming the site with high traffic, prevent order abuse and prolong access throughout the day, so that order availability isn’t exhausted in seconds or minutes each day,” per release.  

“We expect consumer interest and site traffic to exceed what we’ll be able to fulfill, at least initially, so we ask that customers be patient and understand that the PLCB is doing the best it can under extraordinary circumstances to balance consumer demand and public health,” says Tim.

The agency notes it is still not considering reopening stores, but “continues to monitor the situation in consultation with the Wolf Administration and public health officials.”


On Monday, Brown-Forman temporarily shut down its Louisville cooperage after two employees tested positive for COVID-19, reports a local publication.  

“All team members of these employees have been notified/quarantined in accordance with CDC and WHO guidelines,” says B-F spokesperson Elizabeth Conway. “We have asked that they remain in quarantine for the required fourteen day period and not return to work until they are symptom free.” 

“(B)efore any employees return, the facilities will have been fully sanitized in accordance with recommendations by government officials. We will continue to keep the health and safety of our employees as our top concern,” she says. 

The plan is to re-open the cooperage on April 13. 


WIDOW JANE DISTILLERY PARTNERS WITH CENTURY HOUSE. Samson & Surrey’s Widow Jane Distillery has partnered with Century House Historical Society, a non-profit out of Rosendale, NY, to preserve Rosendale’s local history and culture including the landmark Widow Jane Mine. Through this partnership, Widow Jane Distillery will make an annual contribution to support the Century House Historical Society along with supporting the refurbishment of an exhibit within the Century House’s on-site museum. They will also co-host an annual celebration of the local history to be held in the Widow Jane Mine and the surrounding picnic grounds.

BUFFALO TRACE DISTILLERY RELEASES 4th INSTALLMENT OF OLD CHARTER OAK SERIES. Buffalo Trace Distillery has released the fourth installment in the Old Charter Oak Series, Old Charter Oak Chinkapin Oak. The staves are air dried for 24 months before being assembled into barrels which are charred slightly less than normal. They are then filled with Buffalo Trace Mash #1 and aged for nine years before being bottled at 93 proof. It is available nationwide in limited quantities at a suggested retail price of $70. 

VIRGINIA DISTILLERY CO. LAUNCHES NEW COURAGE & CONVICTION SERIES EXPRESSION. Virginia Distillery Company has launched the first American single malt as part of the “Courage & Conviction” series. It is aged a minimum of three years at the distillery’s 100-acre property in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Nelson County, Virginia. A total of 9,600 bottles were produced and will be available at a suggested retail price of $75. 

Until tomorrow,

“Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.” – Leo Buscaglia

——- Sell Day Calendar ———
Today’s Sell Day: 2
Sell days this month: 22
Sell days this month last year: 22
This month ends on a: Thurs.
This month last year ended on a: Tues.
YTD sell days Over/Under: +1