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Letter from the President of Felton & Sons (Inc.), Boston, Mass.
Washington, D. C, May 12, 1921. Hon. Andrew J. Volstead, Chairman Judiciary Committee, House of Representatives, Washington, D. C.
Dear Sir :
As rum distillers at Boston, Mass., now engaged in the production
of high-proof rum for industrial uses, we beg to request that such correction be made in the second paragraph of section 2 of H.R. 5033, now pending before your committee (p. 2, lines 3 to 14), as will avoid interruption of our necessary production of industrial rum.
The rum which we manufacture is produced at from 150 to 160 degrees or proof; that is, the rum contains from 75 to 80 per cent of alcohol by volume. The rum is not, however, fractionated to the point where it contains from 94 to 95 per cent of alcohol by volume, which is the usual strength of commercial alcohol. Rum for the purposes for which we manufacture it must retain some of the congeneric flavor which would be fractionated out of the product if the extreme fractionation were attained.
This rum is exclusively used domestically for flavoring tobacco; that is, the rum is sprayed over the tobacco, the alcohol evaporating and leaving in the leaf during the course of manufacture the desired rum flavor. This is one of the ancient tobacco flavoring processes, and our company has furnished rum for this purpose for many years—long antedating prohibition.
The rum for domestic uses is denatured with nicotine and rendered unfit for beverage consumption, and this denaturing work is done in our own denaturing bonded warehouse adjacent to our distillery.
What we are particularly concerned about is, however, our right to manufacture this character of rum not only for domestic use, denatured as stated, which we do not understand is affected by H. R. 5033, but particularly our right to manufacture this product for exportation.
We have long enjoyed an export trade in this character of rum with foreign tobacco manufacturers, who purchased this rum from us on account of its particular character for the flavoring of tobacco abroad in the same way that our domestic manufacturers used it. We do not, however, denature this export rum, as it is exported free of tax. and denaturation is not necessary to secure this tax-free export privilege. Our foreign buyers are accustomed to using this rum undenatured, or else denatured in their own country under the local requirements. Our foreign customers object strenuously to the rum denatured with nicotine and would find other sources of supply if we were unable to furnish them the undenatured rum which they have been accustomed to receiving.
You will realize that this rum is exported for nonbeverage and industrial uses, and no question of this particular kind of rum being used for beverage purposes in foreign countries can arise. Rum at cheaper cost than ours can be secured by the foreign countries for beverage purposes, and rum of the cost and character of our product could not, as a commercial proposition, compete for beverage purposes, even though the foreign tobacco manufacturers, who are customers, were inclined to consider our export flavoring rum from a beverage standpoint. Of this there is no possibility, because our foreign customers are large and responsible tobacco manufacturers, who buy our product solely for use in the preparation of their tobacco.
For your further information, practically our entire list of foreign consignees are subsidiaries of the British American Tobacco Co., and we know that they use this rum exclusively in their foreign tobacco factories. It may well be said that the operation to which we refer would in no way be interfered with by the second paragraph of section 2, but it would be a disaster to us, if under any circumstances, we were not permitted to continue our production for export purposes under the circumstances above stated.
An amendment which will make this clear and certain would consist of the words “including rum for industrial purposes” after the word “alcohol” in line 5 of page 2. This would make the exception read, “save alcohol, and rum for industrial uses.”
Felton & Son (Inc.).
Per Herbert L. Felton,
President and Treasurer.