The Tennessee Whiskey War Heats Up

March 31, 2014

Tennessee Whiskey War: investigation leads to suit

The fight(s) over what makes a Tennessee Whiskey are nowhere near over.

According to a new lawsuit filed on Friday, Diageo (doing business as George A. Dickel & Co.) has brought suit against the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission, seemingly preemptively, to challenge the state’s ‘Storage Statute’ under the Equal Protection Clause of the US Constitution’s 14th Amendment and the Constitution’s Commerce Clause.

The statute, as ratified in 1937, mandates that any alcoholic beverage produced in Tennessee must also be stored in the same county as production. In 2013, the statute was modified to allow for storage in adjacent counties as well.

It would appear that this had been a non-issue for Dickel for quite a long time. On March 20th, the head of the TABC emailed Dickel, asking for them to investigate the storage of Dickel post-production at a facility in Kentucky and asking for a response by March 28th.

On March 28th, Dickel/Diageo filed suit.

Presumably, this storage situation would have been brought to light during information-gathering in conjunction with the Barrel arguments. Additionally, Dickel claims that Tennessee had never enforced the statute until the inquiry email of March 20th. Dickel seeks a declaration that the statute is unconstitutional, as well as an injunction preventing the enforcement thereof.

Source: Whiskey Maker Challenges Tennessee Law [Kevin Lessmiller // Courthouse News Service]

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