Craft Liquor Is On the Cusp of a Big Evolution

For some people, alcohol is more than just a way to have fun — it's a medium for creative expression, and its boundaries need to be pushed. Brewing and distilling are ancient arts, but that also means they can get a little hidebound. That may not be the case for long, and you may see the results on store shelves soon.

NPR shared a new report this week about alternative grain-based liquor and spirits. Think quinoa whiskey, or amaranth bourbon. It's not about health foods; rather, brewers and distillers are curious beasts. They genuinely want to see what these drinks will taste like — and whether the discerning public will be interested in them too.

That brings their journey under the purview of the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, which is part of the Treasury Department. The TTB, in conversation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is starting to decide how to label these new alcoholic creations. Regulation requires the kind of persnickety attention to detail that insists on a difference between whisky and whiskey. But the TTB is taking public comments on how to go about these changes until March 26, 2019.

At least, in theory, it is. Given the partial government shutdown that has currently stymied craft beer brewers, it's possible the TTB could have too much of a backlog for a timely ruling on the matter. Still, while spending money on booze is one of our most common financial regrets, at least it's one category where the customer really is always right.