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Tennessee legislature delays action on new whiskey law

By Frances Burns   |   March 25, 2014 at 4:40 PM   |   Comments

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March 25 (UPI) -- The Tennessee legislature postponed action Tuesday on a dispute between two major distillers, creating a panel to study the definition of Tennessee whiskey.

The battle involves two well-known brand names, Jack Daniel's and George Dickel, and two major liquor companies, the Brown-Forman Corp., the largest in the United States, and Diageo PLC, which has its headquarters in London and is the world's biggest beverage company.

The legislature decided to create a summer study committee to examine the issue.

A law passed last year requires anything labeled Tennessee Whiskey to be distilled in Tennessee and to follow what happens to be the Jack Daniel's recipe with at least 51 percent corn, with a filter of maple charcoal and aging in new barrels made from charred oak. Diageo, which owns the less-famous George Dickel label, is lobbying for a more flexible definition.

Rep. Ryan Haynes, the Republican chairman of the state government committee, said he could not get backing for a proposal that would require only that Tennessee Whiskey be made in-state. He said that, given the lack of agreement, a study committee makes sense, but he hopes there will be a change in the law.

"It's wrong for the government to codify recipes. I don't think we should be in that business," he said.

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