By Andy Young

Beam Suntory has successfully defended a lawsuit in the US over the alleged misleading marketing in the labelling of Maker's Mark bourbon as "handmade".

District Judge Robert L. Hinkle dismissed "with prejudice" the case which had been brought by two Florida consumers, Dimitric Salters and AG Waseem. 

Rob Samuels, chief operating officer of Maker’s Mark, said: "We have asserted all along that the complaints in this case were frivolous and without merit, and we are very pleased the court agreed with our position so emphatically."

Judge Hinkle said in his ruling, "Nobody could believe a bourbon marketed this widely at this volume is made entirely or predominantly by hand."

The judge added that the plaintiffs had failed to offer alternatives to the literal meaning of "handmade" and that their failure to outline exactly what qualifies as handmade had hampered their case.

"If 'handmade' is understood to mean something else, some ill-defined effort to glom onto a trend toward products like craft beer, the statement is the kind of puffery that cannot support claims of this kind," the judge said.

"In all events, the plaintiffs have not stated a claim on which relief can be granted," he added.

Kent Rose, Beam Suntory's senior vice president and general counsel, said: "This ruling is very good news, and it should send a strong message to those who would seek to gain from similar baseless and irresponsible litigation."

There are currently several cases of this nature pending in the US, with litigation sought of the use of terms such as "handmade" and "craft". Beam Suntory is facing a similar case in California, while MillerCoors is also facing a class action case over its use of "craft" on its Blue Moon beer brand.

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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