Tito’s Vodka faces another ‘Handmade’ lawsuitBy Amy Hopkins
Just weeks after facing a lawsuit in California, Tito’s Handmade Vodka has been hit with similar legal action in Florida as the brand is accused of misleading consumers.
Consumers Shalinus Pye and Raisha Licht have initiated a class action lawsuit against Fifth Generation, owner of Tito’s Handmade Vodka, and Bert Butler “Tito” Beveridge, accusing the defendants of “false advertising and deceptive trade practices”.
Papers filed to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida, in Tallahassee, state that Tito’s Vodka has duped consumers into believe it is handmade, when “in actuality, the vodka is made via a highly-mechanised process, which is devoid of human hands”.
The plaintiffs have challenged both the name of Tito’s Handmade Vodka and its tagline, which states: “Crafted in an old fashioned pot still by America’s original microdistillery.”
“As a consequence of defendants’ unfair and deceptive practices, plaintiffs, and members of the class, have purchased Tito’s vodka under the false impressions that defendants’ product is of a higher quality, is handmade, is crafted in old fashioned pot stills, and is otherwise as advertised on the product’s label,” the lawsuit reads.
Last month, a similar civil lawsuit was launched against Tito’s in California, attempting to force the brand to drop the drop the term “Handmade” from its labels to “more accurately reflect the product’s attributes”.
The plaintiff, real estate agent Gary Hoffman, claimed that since ito’s exceeds sales of more than 15 million bottles a year, it cannot claim to be handmade.
However Tito Beveridge, ounder 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.”
Beveridge added 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 “in the not-too-distant future”.
Just last week, a lawsuit alleging Templeton Rye whiskey has misled consumers into believing it is distilled in Iowa using a recipe from the Prohibition era has been given the green light to proceed.