Distilled spirits, also referred to as "liquor," are beverage alcohol products which are first fermented and then distilled. Beer and wine are not included in this definition. Accurate terms to refer to all three drinks are "beverage alcohol" or "alcohol beverages."
The term "hard liquor" is generally objectionable because it reinforces the dangerous misperception that one form of alcohol is somehow "softer" than another.
Committed to Responsibility
The distilled spirits industry has a long and proud tradition of social responsibility. Over the decades, the distillers have developed hundreds of programs addressing all forms of alcohol abuse.
Through the efforts of The Century Council, a not-for-profit organization funded solely by America’s leading distillers, the distilled spirits industry develops innovative programs used by communities nationwide to combat drunk driving and illegal, underage drinking.
Some of The Century Council’s most recent programs include “Girl Talk,” supported by the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team Players Association, and Ask, Listen, Learn: Kids and Alcohol Don't Mix, developed with Nickelodeon to help parents have effective conversations about alcohol with their kids.
The industry has also joined with universities to sponsor national and regional academic conferences aimed at reducing alcohol abuse on college campuses through campus-community partnerships.
Code of Responsible Practices for Beverage Alcohol Advertising and Marketing
Since 1934, the distillers have abided by a voluntary Code of Good Practice. The Code includes 39 provisions regarding the responsible placement and content of distilled spirits advertising and marketing.
The Code provides for a Code Review Board, comprised of senior member company representatives, that is charged with reviewing complaints about advertising and marketing materials in the marketplace.
A number of new updates were made to the Code in 2003 including: a 70% adult demographic for ad placements; transparency through semi-annual public reports on advertising complaints; post-audits of ad placements; and the establishment of an outside Code advisory board. In May 2011, the Distilled Spirits Council increased the demographic placement standard in the Code to reflect the 2010 Census data showing that 71.6% of the U.S. population is 21 years of age or older.
The distilled spirits industry’s approach to self-regulation has been pointed to as a model for other industries by the Federal Trade Commission and has been commended on numerous occasions by regulators, industry watchdogs and the media.
Beverage Alcohol Equivalence
"Alcohol is alcohol." A standard drink of regular beer (12 ounces), distilled spirits (1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits) and wine (five ounces) each contains the same amount of alcohol.
This scientific fact, known as "alcohol equivalence," is a critical aspect of responsible drinking recognized by the leading federal departments on alcohol and health matters, state driver’s manuals, and groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
Alcohol & Health
Approximately 110 million American adults drink responsibly. For these adults, alcohol can be part of a normal, healthy adult lifestyle.
While there is a common misperception that wine is the only form of beverage alcohol associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, according to the scientific evidence, the potential benefits and risks apply equally to distilled spirits, wine and beer.
Distillers do not recommend that people drink alcohol for health reasons and have always encouraged those who choose to drink, to do so responsibly. Alcohol abuse can cause serious health and other problems. Even moderate consumption can cause problems for some individuals and some people should not drink at all. If you have questions regarding alcohol, talk to your health professional.
Distilled spirits are one of the most heavily taxed consumer products in the United States. More than half of the price that consumers spend on a typical bottle of distilled spirits goes towards a tax of some kind.
A tax on alcohol is a tax on the hospitality industry. Beverage alcohol is the major profit component of the hospitality industry including bars, restaurants, liquor stores, hotels, convention and tourism. When beverage alcohol taxes are increased, it creates a devastating ripple effect on jobs throughout the entire hospitality industry.
Beer, wine and spirits producers all share the same adult consumers. Those consumers who choose to drink should have convenient, responsible and equal access to their favorite beverage alcohol products.
Sunday liquor sales and tastings laws are two important state market access initiatives for the industry. As of 2012, Sunday sales of spirits are permitted in 38 states and spirits tastings (in some form) are permitted in 44 states and the District of Columbia.
The distilled spirits industry is a major contributor to the nation’s economy generating over $110 billion in U.S. economic activity annually. Over 1.2 million people are employed in the United States in the production, distribution and sale of distilled spirits.
There was never a law banning distilled spirits television advertising. The distillers’ 1948 decision not to advertise in this medium was completely voluntary.
Distilled spirits ads have been on television since 1996 with broad public acceptance. Distilled spirits ads have aired on more than 550 broadcast stations, the majority of which are network affiliates, and on dozens of cable networks such as CNN, Fox Sports Network, Discovery, A&E, FX, Black Entertainment Television and USA Network.
All forms of alcohol - beer, wine and distilled spirits - should be held to the same responsible advertising standard.
Distilled Spirits Council
The Distilled Spirits Council is the national trade association representing the leading producers and marketers of distilled spirits in the United States.
Since the repeal of Prohibition, DISCUS and its predecessor organizations have advocated on legislative, regulatory and public affairs issues that impact the industry, its consumers, and its business partners in the hospitality industry in Washington, D.C., state capitals and foreign countries worldwide.
The Council protects the industry from higher taxes and works diligently to reduce trade barriers across the globe, while supporting policies that increase adult market access for spirits products, provide greater convenience and choices for adult consumers, and encourage responsible and moderate consumption.