Battle heats up over definition of Tennessee whiskey

Liquor companies fight over rights to call their brands authentic


The fight between Jack Daniels and George Dickel over who has the right to right to label their drink as actual authentic Tennessee whiskey just got interesting.

The Associated Press reported that the two worldwide liquor companies have been battling over which of their whiskeys drink should carry special status as local and unique.

London-based liquor conglomerate Diageo PLC, of which George Dickel is a subsidiary, opened a legislative fight earlier this year seeking to overturn the state's newly established legal definition for Tennessee whiskey that has been championed by Jack Daniel's, which is owned by Louisville, Kentucky-based Brown-Forman Corp. The new rules state that whiskey must be aged in new, charred oak barrels in Tennessee and filtered through maple charcoal prior to aging.

Dickel's owners say they conform with the traditional methods laid out in the state law, but are challenging the statute, mostly over the storage restrictions. Some advocates fear a successful challenge by Dickel of the storage statute could give way to a legal challenge of the overall Tennessee whiskey law.

State lawmakers this summer are expected to return to the struggle of crafting the legal definition of Tennessee whiskey.

The two distilleries are located just 15 miles apart in southern Tennessee and are not marketplace equals, with Jack Daniel's outselling Dickel by a ratio of 88 cases to one, according to The Associated Press.