A consumer has filed a putative class action against Jim Beam Brands Co. and
its owner Beam Suntory Import Co. alleging that the label indicating that
the bourbon whiskey is “handcrafted” is misleading because the bourbon is
produced with machines. Welk v. Beam Suntory Import Co., No. 15-328 (U.S.
Dist. Ct., filed February 17, 2015).

The complaint asserts that videos, photos and diagrams on Jim Beam’s
website show that its bourbon “is manufactured using mechanized and/or
automated processes, resembling a modern day assembly line and involving
little to no human supervision, assistance or involvement.” The handcrafted
claim leads consumers to purchase Jim Beam Bourbon falsely believing it
to be of superior quality, so they are willing to pay a premium price, the
complaint argues. The plaintiff alleges misrepresentation and violations of
California’s False Advertising Law and Unfair Competition Law, and he seeks
class certification, an injunction, an order for Jim Beam to begin a corrective
advertising campaign, restitution, damages, and attorney’s fees. The firms
representing the plaintiff also represent two consumers alleging similar claims
against Maker’s Mark, a premium brand of bourbon also owned by Beam
Suntory. Details about that December 2014 complaint appear in Issue 548 of
this Update.


Issue 556

About The Author

For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.