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Fireball Is Being Sued Over Faux Whiskey in Mini-Bottles

A class action lawsuit has been filed against Sazerac, the manufacturer of Fireball, for what it says are misleading marketing practices, per The Washington Post,

Courtesy company.

Fireball sign.

The suit contends that some mini Fireball bottles the company sells don’t actually contain cinnamon-infused, Canadian whisky, as the branding suggests.

Sazerac sells a small bottle of Fireball, but according to the suit, the product may not contain any whiskey at all — despite it being nearly identical to the larger bottle (which has whiskey in it) in style and branding.

The small 50ml bottle of Fireball usually retails for around $1) and is usually sold in locations that do not permit the sale of liquor, per the outlet. The label says the tiny beverage contains a “malt beverage With Natural Whisky & Other Flavors,” per the suit.

This is “a clever turn of phrase because consumers who strain to read this will see how ‘Natural Whisky’ is distinct from Other Flavors,'” the lawsuit says.

Previously, as the lawsuit notes, New York state local outlets The Times Union and WPDH pointed out that the seemingly liquor-filled bottles were being sold in gas stations and supermarkets, apparently to the ire of liquor stores, per the former. State law only allows liquor to be sold in designated stores — i.e., not in grocery stores.

This is opposed to the regular bottle of Fireball, which is real Canadian whisky, per the suit.

The class action lawsuit seeks to bring together anyone who has bought the not-actually-liquor mini bottle in 12 states over the issue, going for damages punitive and statutory, in the realm of $5 million. It was filed in the Northern District Court of Illinois earlier this month.

Fireball is said to have been created during a legendarily cold Canadian winter in the 1980s. It was purchased by Sazerac in 1989 and then saw a surge in popularity after a rebrand and a focused marketing campaign in the U.S. post-2007, per Bravo. The drink saw a dip in bar sales but an overall continued sales volume increase in recent years. In 2020, Thrillist called it “secretly hot.”

Fireball Cinnamon Whisky “tastes like heaven, burns like hell,” the company writes in a description of the product.

This suit is seeking to be “certified” as a class action, meaning a judge has to agree that the suit meets the requirements for that type of suit.

It specifically is seeking to be certified as a class action in Illinois and as a multistate-consumer fraud class action, open to customers who have bought the mini-bottle in the following states: North Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho, Alaska, Iowa, Mississippi, Arkansas, Kansas, Arizona, South Carolina and Utah

The lawyer on the suit, Spencer Sheehan, is known for taking food brands to task for misleading marketing that is misleading. He once sued Krispy Kreme for not having enough apples in a “glazed apple pie” product.

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