Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Tennessee Whiskey Is Safe for Now
Earlier today, Tennessee lawmakers decided not to rewrite the law that defines Tennessee whiskey, at least not during their current session. This means the one-year-old law will remain in force for another year at least.
The proposal to change or repeal the law has been moved to summer study panels that will convene after this legislative session ends.
If you're just hearing about all this now, go here, here, and here for the background.
"We stand behind last year's law, we truly believe it's best for Tennessee whiskey all over the world," said Jeff Arnett, master distiller at Jack Daniel's. "For the players who've located in the state of Tennessee, we need to uphold these quality standards."
Brown-Forman, the company that owns Jack Daniel's, asked for last year's law to prevent new producers from interpreting the term 'Tennessee whiskey' as being any whiskey made in Tennessee. Currently, 99 percent of all Tennessee whiskey sold is Jack Daniel's.
Under last year's law, a Tennessee whiskey must meet the same standards that federal law requires for straight bourbon whiskey, with the additional requirement of filtering through sugar maple charcoal, a traditional Tennessee practice.
The effort to change the law was led by Diageo, the world's largest drinks company, which also declared victory.
"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," said Guy L. Smith IV, Executive Vice President, Diageo North America. "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," said Smith.
On that we agree.