Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey, a spicy, hot liquor sold in liquor stores, is probably the drink most people are familiar with. But Fireball Cinnamon, sold in grocery stores, gas stations, and other places where the sale of alcohol isn’t allowed, is a different story. Debuting in 2020, this drink is actually a malty drink that tastes like whiskey. Usually he is sold in small bottles for 99 cents.
A recent lawsuit filed against Sazerac, which manufactures both, alleges that the convenience store version is misleading. It wasn’t just a smaller version of the popular liquor. According to a class action lawsuit filed by Illinois woman Anna Marquez, “the label misleads consumers into believing it is or contains spirits.”
Malt beverages are made by fermentation and are often classified as beer and wine (common examples include Colt 45 and hard seltzer). Distilled spirits like whiskey are usually more tightly regulated.
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The lawsuit raises questions about the way the label for the malt drink version describes its ingredients. I call it “clever phrasing” intended to Shoppers “will think of this product as being (1) a natural whiskey and (2) a malt drink with other flavors added,” Filing said.
The filing cited a local news story about what appeared to be a fireball mini whiskey bottle in an environment where liquor was not normally sold, highlighting the common misconception claim. I can’t buy hard liquor or hard liquor, so why is Fireball okay?” wrote a Hudson Valley radio personality. “Yes, it’s convenient for Fireball drinkers, but what about vodka drinkers and bourbon fans? I’d love to see Tito’s display right next to Fireball…lol!”
The lawsuit, which alleges the company has violated state consumer fraud laws, covers the states of Illinois, North Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho, Alaska, Iowa, Mississippi, Arkansas, Kansas, Arizona and South America. We are trying to protect anyone who buys fireball cinnamon in Carolina or Utah. It seeks unspecified statutory and punitive damages, but the filing states that the amount is likely to exceed her $5 million.
The attorney representing Marquez and others in her class is Spencer Sheehan, a famous plaintiffs attorney who has filed hundreds of class-action lawsuits against food companies. Sheehan is sometimes referred to as a “vanilla watchman” in lawsuits over products containing artificial vanilla instead of real vanilla. His other lawsuits include a lawsuit against Frito-Lay for not using enough real lime juice in his “Hints of Lime” Tostitos, and Kellogg’s Strawberry Pop Tarts that contain the fruit in the title. It includes lawsuits claiming it contains as much apples and pears.
A representative for Fireball maker Sazerac said it would not comment on the ongoing lawsuit.