A lawsuit filed by a Chicago woman accuses the maker of Fireball Cinnamon Whisky of deceiving consumers by selling miniature bottles that look identical to the popular spirit but don’t actually contain any whisky.
The suit was filed this month by Anna Marquez in the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Illinois and names Sazerac Co. as the defendant.
The subject of the lawsuit are 50 milliliter bottles of Fireball Cinnamon that contain a malt beverage with a lower alcohol content than the whisky version and are sold for 99 cents in gas stations and convenience stores.
The lawsuit claims the smaller bottles look exactly like those that do contain whisky and “appear identical but for the word “Whisky” on the front label, which most purchasers seeking alcohol will not even detect.”
Both bottles have a red cap and feature a yellow label with a red dragon-like figure on the front.
The label on Fireball Cinnamon describes the drink as a “Malt Beverage with Natural Whisky & Other Flavors,” which “misleads consumers into believing it is or contains distilled spirits,” when in reality it only contains the flavor of whisky, the suit states.
“Expecting those small bottles labeled ‘Fireball Cinnamon’ to contain whisky was an easy mistake to make, and one intended by the manufacturer,” the suit states. “As a result of the false and misleading representations, the Product is sold at a premium price, $0.99 for 50 mL.”
Sazerac says its Fireball Cinnamon product was made to capture “the essence of the Fireball Whisky taste experience consumers love.”
The company offers some guidance on how to tell the difference between the two products on its website: “any package with Fireball ‘Cinnamon Whisky’ on the front label is our whisky-based product. Any product with Fireball ‘Cinnamon’ on the front label, without ‘Whisky’, is either our malt-based or wine-based product.”
The suit states the plaintiff expected the smaller bottles to contain whisky, and she ended up paying more for the beverage than she would have had she known the “representations and omissions were false and misleading, or would not have purchased it.”
The suit is seeking more than $5 million.