Tito’s founder hits out at ‘handmade’ lawsuit
The founder of Tito’s Handmade Vodka has hit out at a “misguided” lawsuit alleging the brand is duping consumers into believing it is handcrafted.
Last week, California real estate broker Gary Hoffman filed a civil lawsuit against Tito’s Handmade Vodka, made in Austin, Texas, in a bid to force the brand to drop the term “Handmade” from its labels to “more accurately reflect the product’s attributes”.
Hoffman’s lawyer has claimed that since Tito’s exceeds sales of more than 15 million bottles a year, it cannot claim to be handmade.
However Tito Beveridge, founder and master distiller of Tito’s Handmade Vodka and owner of the brand’s parent company Fifth Generation, said the lawsuit was a “misguided attack”
“Here at Tito’s Handmade Vodka, we are proud of our process that focuses on the quality of the product and involvement of human beings. We distill at the same distillery in Austin, Texas where I, Tito, started the business in 1995, distilling in batches in pot stills that are customized and hand-built on-site to our proprietary specifications.
“We hand-connect the hoses and pumps as we taste and qualify the next steps with the distillate. We taste our product to ensure head and tail cuts, all of which are done at our distillery in Austin, are made to our exacting standards to deliver the highest quality.
“The artistry involved in knowing when it’s time to make those cuts is something that cannot be duplicated by even the most sophisticated machines.”
Beveridge adds that the US Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) has approved the brand’s label and that its “small-batch distillation process” differentiates it from other vodka brands.
He also predicted that other spirits brands marketed as “handmade” or “craft” will be targeted by similar lawsuits.
Apparently these kinds of cases have become popular in California among a certain segment of the California legal community,” said Beveridge.
“I bet a number of other folks in our industry will see similar cases in the not-too-distant future.”
One such brand that has been accused of misleading consumers with its label is Templeton Rye.
Earlier this month, company president Scott Bush and chairman Vern Underwood have made the decision to label their products as distilled in Indiana, not Templeton, Iowa, over claims the brand may have breached federal disclosure requirements.
Templeton Rye was named by advocacy group Consumer Class Actions as a “small-batch” whiskey brand that has been investigated by US attorneys for “falsely advertising their origin”.
The group urged consumers who think they may have been mislead by American whiskey brands marketed as “small-batch” to seek legal advice and potentially pursue a class action lawsuit.