Tennessee whisky decision delayed

26 March, 2014
jack daniel's

The decision whether to overhaul the definition of Tennessee whiskey, which follows a legislative quarrel between Diageo and Brown-Forman, has been delayed until the summer.

Members of the Tennessee General Assembly have voted for a study committee to rule over proposed changes to the definition – a move both groups have welcomed.

Guy L Smith, executive vice president, Diageo told DI: “The Tennessee legislature has done the right thing and now, rather than having one company dictate for everyone, we can do this the right way and come together in an open forum to discuss how to create the best standards for Tennessee whiskey.

“In the meantime, we will continue to make George Dickel the same way we always have. This is a good day for Tennessee, for distillers big and small, and for consumers of Tennessee whiskey.”

Elizabeth Conway, corporate communications at Brown-Forman, told DI: “We respect the Tennessee legislative committee's decision to uphold the quality standards for Tennessee Whiskey put into place last year.

“We look forward to continuing to advocate for and promote the high quality standards and reputation of Tennessee Whiskey. Finally, it's time we stop debating Tennessee whiskey and get back to making Tennessee whiskey.”

Currently Tennessee whisky must be made from at least 51% corn, aged in new oak barrels, charcoal mellowed and stored in Tennessee, which is essentially the production process of Brown-Forman’s Jack Daniel’s.
Diageo has argued that a single company should not determine the definition of an entire category.
Though Diageo has broadened the discussion, it is said its argument hinges on the necessity to use new oak for ageing.

Earlier this month Diageo’s Smith said: "This isn't about Diageo as all of our Tennessee whiskey is made with new oak, this is about Brown-Forman trying to stifle competition and the entrepreneurial spirit of micro distillers.”

Jeff Arnett, Jack Daniel’s master distiller, also said this month: “This is not about the interests of micro distillers in our state.  We support micro distillers.  This is about Diageo, a large foreign company with more interest in scotch and bourbon, trying to weaken what Tennessee Whiskey is and we simply shouldn’t allow it.”

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