CHICAGO — A lawsuit filed in federal court accuses the manufacturer of Fireball Cinnamon Whisky of misleading customers who buy the brand’s miniature bottles.
The class-action lawsuit, filed on behalf of a citizen in Illinois, alleges that the small bottles made by Fireball and sold outside of liquor stores at gas stations and markets do not contain any whiskey. The small bottles are available for 99 cents at supermarkets and other convenience stores.
The lawsuit cites customers who said that they wondered if the stores selling the small bottles were “doing something they’re not supposed to be doing” by selling hard liquor. The lawsuit also cites liquor stores that allegedly reported a decline in sales of Fireball Cinnamon Whisky and said their customers told them that they “preferred to purchase it for lower prices elsewhere.”
Photos included with the lawsuit show the bottles for the larger Fireball Cinnamon Whisky and the miniature bottles, which are only labeled “Fireball Cinnamon,” are extremely similar: “The bottles appear identical but for the word ‘Whisky’ on the front label, which most purchasers seeking alcohol will not even detect.”
“Fireball Cinnamon,” which debuted in 2020, is a malt beverage flavored to taste like whiskey, The Washington Post reported. A close examination of the bottle reveals the text “Malt beverage with natural whisky & other flavors and caramel color” on the label. Sales of malt beverages, which include hard seltzers, are not as tightly regulated as sales of distilled spirits, such as whiskey and vodka.
The lawsuit alleges that Sazerac, which owns the brand, violated consumer-fraud statutes and seeks to cover plaintiffs in Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Mississippi, North Dakota, South Carolina, Utah and Wyoming, The Washington Post reported. While a specific number was not given in the filing for statutory and punitive damages, the filing said the amount would likely be more than $5 million.
The attorney representing the plaintiffs, Spencer Sheehan, is well-known for filing class-action lawsuits against food companies, according to The Washington Post. He previously filed lawsuits against Kellogg’s, saying the company’s strawberry Pop-Tarts contain as much apple and pear as they do strawberries.
A spokesperson for Sazerac declined to comment, saying the company does not comment on ongoing litigation.
©2022 Cox Media Group