Jack Daniel’s angers rivals over ‘Tennessee whiskey’ rule

Jack Daniel’s angers rivals over ‘Tennessee whiskey’ rule
File photo of a Jack Daniel's Distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee.

NEW YORK - For Jack Daniel's, Tennessee's world-famous corn-based whiskey should be made according to a strict recipe - basically, its own.

But to rivals, some with their roots in ginning up moonshine in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains, Jack Daniel's wants to lock them out of a booming business.

In a battle of two global giants of liquor distribution, Diageo versus Brown-Forman, Jack Daniel's wants legislators in the state capital Nashville to implement clear standards on what spirit can wear the "Tennessee Whiskey" label.

The industry powerhouse says only the drink that is made from at least 51 per cent corn fermented mash, aged in new barrels of charred oak, filtered through maple charcoal and at least 40 per cent alcohol should qualify as Tennessee whiskey.

Unsurprisingly, that is how the 148-year-old Jack Daniel's makes its own bourbon-style whiskey.

The distiller, owned by Brown-Forman, was able to push that standard through the Tennessee general assembly last year before competitors could mount resistance.

Diageo, whose George Dickel brand is the state's number two whiskey - and is already made to the new official code - said Brown-Forman engineered the change through "misleading and deceptive political moves" that gives it an advantage.

Establishing the pro-Jack Daniel's definition amounts to "effectively reversing the flexibility that has been enjoyed for more than 130 years by Tennessee whiskey distillers," said Guy Smith, Diageo executive vice president for North America.

"Diageo is willing to consider a standard for Tennessee whiskey," he said.

"However, it is imperative that standard be reflective of the collective input from Tennessee whiskey distillers large and small, not just from one oppressive company as is currently the case."

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