PORTLAND, Maine (WMTW) – If you’re reaching for a shot-sized bottle of Fireball in the grocery store, you may want to read this. The small bottle may not contain whisky but instead a “malt-flavored beverage.”
“These are tough economic times. Consumers, Maine residents, are entitled to have their money go for things that are what they say they are,” said attorney Spencer Sheehan.
In a new lawsuit, a customer represented by Sheehan claims the similar bottles at different stores make it misleading for those who purchase the cinnamon-flavored alcohol.
“Before I even realized it wasn’t whiskey I wouldn’t have tried another one of those again,” said Tom, a shopper in Westbrook. The lawsuit called the labels “almost identical,” saying the manufacturer intended for consumers to make the mistake of what was inside of it.
“It is still something that they’re paying more for,” Sheehan said.
Now, Fireball whisky’s producer Sazarec is being sued for $5 million dollars.
The lawsuit goes on to explain the difference between the two liquids: Whisky is a distilled spirit, and a malt beverage is a drink based on fermentation in which flavors and colors are later added.
The lawsuit alleges those who pick up the item in a grocery store would not even realize the word “Whisky” was missing from the small bottle.
“‘Fireball’ is not qualified with the word ‘brand,’ which could alert purchasers what they are buying has little connection to cinnamon whisky,” the lawsuit states.
The bottle does say it is a malt beverage, but the suit adds it is in the smallest allowed size when it comes to the font at the bottom of the bottle.
In addition to the small font, the document claims that not putting the word “flavors” after the words “Natural Whisky” will continue to mislead purchasers who expect what is in the larger bottle bought at liquor stores.
The mini bottles are sold at a premium price of $0.99, which the lawsuit claims is more than the plaintiff would have paid if she had known about the misleading packaging.
The lawsuit continues: “(The) Plaintiff is unable to rely on the labeling of not only this Product, but other flavored malt beverages which use the names of distilled spirits, because she is unsure of whether their representations are truthful.”
Fireball is accused of directly marketing and representing the bottles as whisky instead of a malt beverage, as the lawsuit claims fraud and negligent misrepresentation of its product.
The class action complaint seeks to have Fireball correct its “practices” and get awarded monetary, statutory and/or punitive damages, among other awards.
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