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Legal action against ‘small batch’ whiskeys urged

Consumers who have purchased American whiskeys marketed as “small-batch” are being urged to take legal action against brands they believe to be misleading.

Craft spirits US
Attorneys are investigating whether some whiskeys marketed as “small-batch” have breached advertising laws

Advocacy group Consumer Class Actions is offering legal advice to consumers who question the authenticity of US whiskey marketed as “craft” or “small-batch”.

“Attorneys are investigating whether certain ‘small-batch’ whiskey brands falsely advertise their origin,” the group claims on its website.

“According to reports, some whiskey companies represent that they are made in small, independent distilleries when they are actually all made in the same large, generic distillery.”

Such reports include one recently published in The Daily Beast, which claimed many “small batch” and “artisan” distillers source their liquid from a large distillery in Lawrenceburg, Indiana.

Consumer Class Actions is now calling for consumers to seek legal advice with regards to their purchases, naming a number of brands that could be implicated in a class action lawsuit.

Such brands include: Templeton Rye, Angel’s Envy Rye, Diageo’s Bulleit Rye and George Dickel Rye, Redemption Bourbon and Rye, WhistlePig Rye and bottlings from Rancho de Los Luceros Destilaría, among others.

These labels have not yet been found to have committed an illegal act, but Consumer Class Actions claims they are either involved, or have in the past been involved, in investigations by private attorneys to determine whether any legal consumer rights have been violated.

Lack of definition

In the US there is currently no legal definition for “craft” or “small-batch” whiskey, but the American Distilling Institute (ADI) stipulates its own industry definition.

According to this definition, craft spirits are the products of an independently-owned distillery with maximum annual sales of 52,000 cases, where the product is physically distilled and bottled on site.

There is widespread debate over the craft spirits sector, and the involvement of larger companies within it.

Earlier this year, Lance Winters, master distiller at California-based craft distillery St George Spirits said that despite the thought that larger companies are “masquerading as craft”, an official definition which could ban such companies from marketing themselves in this way, would not be beneficial to the sector.

Meanwhile Diageo, which launched the “craft” Orphan Barrel Whiskey Distilling Company last year, defended its right to market is products as “small-batch”, claiming that “not all small distilleries are craft, and not all craft distilleries are small”.

The UK drinks group has not yet responded the The Spirits Business‘ comment requests with regards to claims made by Consumer Class Actions.

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