Fireball maker sued over non-whisky bottles

The maker of Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey has been sued for fraud for selling a drink that, at first glance, looks like the spicy Fireball spirit ubiquitous at college parties, but actually lacks much of the substance: whiskey.

The controversial malt beverage, known as “fireball cinnamon,” has a lower alcohol content than its whiskey-based cousin and can be sold at grocery stores and gas stations across the country. It comes in several sizes.

said Chicago-based plaintiff Anna Marquez case She bought Fireball Cinnamon, unaware that it was a different product from the whiskey she expected. Mrs. The suit, filed this month in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, says Marquez is “like many consumers of alcoholic beverages who prefer distilled spirits or products containing distilled spirits to malt-based beverages.” Mrs. Marquez is seeking more than $5 million.

Sazerac, which makes both drinks, does not comment on ongoing litigation, a company spokeswoman said. On the company’s website, A Frequently Asked Questions The page for Fireball Cinnamon, a malt beverage, says that unlike whiskey, beer and wine are allowed to be sold in 170,000 stores in the U.S. but liquor is not.

Malt beverages such as hard seltzers and wine coolers have a fermented base and are usually flavored. The malt-based Fireball Cinnamon is 33 proof and the Fireball Cinnamon whiskey is 66 proof, Sazerac says on its website.

The suit claimed that Sazerac’s representations about Fireball Cinnamon were “false and misleading” and that the bottles “looked” like Fireball Cinnamon whiskey bottles.

Both bottles have a red cap, a yellow label with the word “Fireball” and a logo featuring a dragon-like creature breathing fire in red. A key difference is that a product is described as “cinnamon whiskey” on the bottle and a malt beverage as “cinnamon”.

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Fireball Cinnamon also describes the bottle contents as “a malt beverage with natural whiskey and other flavors and a caramel color.”

The lawsuit said “natural whiskey and other flavors” was “a clever phrase” because people could misread it as “natural whiskey” and not realize it was a flavor.

This marketing allowed the product to be sold at a “premium price” of 99 cents per 50 milliliter, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit cited two columns about how the labeling was confusing. A An April 2021 article was published in The Albany Times UnionThe writer, Steve Barnes, said a friend of his who “sells booze for a living” heard from customers at liquor stores who said they were frustrated. It’s a Fireball cinnamon product.

The attorney who filed the lawsuit, Spencer Sheehan, has filed more than 400 lawsuits targeting food and beverage companies. NPR Announced in 2021. Many of these lawsuits accuse companies of misleading product labeling, such as foods described as vanilla-flavored, but which actually use artificial vanilla instead of vanilla beans or vanilla extract.

Mr. Sheehan demands.

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