Friday, June 27, 2014

Law and Liquor

I grew up in beautiful southern Tennessee. When I was in high school, we lived in Tullahoma, home of George Dickel, located about 10 miles down the road from Lynchburg, home of Jack Daniel’s. Both distilleries have produced and sold “Tennessee whiskey” for many years, but now a fight has arisen over a 2013 law that defines the term.

The LLW and her husband at Jack Daniel's in December 2013

Last year Tennessee lawmakers passed a bill defining “Tennessee whiskey” as alcohol (1) “manufactured” in Tennessee; (2) from mash of at least 51% corn; (3) distilled to no more than 160 proof; (4) aged in “new, charred oak barrels” in Tennessee; (5) filtered through maple charcoal; and (6) bottled at no more than 80 proof. T.C.A. § 57-2-106(a).
The “definition,” however, appears to apply only to Jack Daniel's (other distilleries use a slightly different mash, age their product in different types of barrels, or filter the product differently, or all of the above). Thus, under the statute, smaller distilleries, like George Dickel, can’t label their product “Tennessee whiskey.”

George Dickel’s parent company, Diageo Americas Supply, Inc., has challenged the law, and this summer, Tennessee legislatures are expected to revisit the definition of “Tennessee whiskey.

I feel a new law school seminar coming on: Law and Liquor.

Click here for more on this story.

Happy Friday!   

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