Lawsuit Claims Templeton Rye Misled Drinkers Into Thinking It’s A Bootlegger’s Whiskey

I’ve seen enough of Boardwalk Empire to know that [spoiler alert] bootleggers in the Prohibition era liked their booze. So of course, tying in a modern day whiskey brand to guys like Al Capone, who had a taste for whiskey made in Templeton, Iowa, as legend would have it, seems like a smooth move. But a lawsuit filed against Templeton Rye says the whiskey company violated consumer protection laws and misled drinkers by tying in its booze to the town, as it’s actually distilled in Indiana.

A law firm in Chicago filed a class-action lawsuit in Illinois on behalf of “all individuals in the United States who’ve purchased a bottle of Templeton Rye,” reports the Des Moines Register, after reports this summer that the whiskey is made from a stock recipe at an Indiana distillery.

Templeton Rye has been on the shelves since 2006, touting the fact that the founders were inspired by the concoction of Alphonse Kerkhoff dating back to the 1920s in Templeton, a recipe he’s said to have handed down to his successors on a scrap of paper. The company admitted, however, that federal regulations don’t allow it to make the whiskey from that actual recipe.

The lawsuit says that before admitting the Indiana roots of its whiskey, it tried to deceive drinkers into thinking that “the good stuff” was a craft whiskey distilled in Iowa, which the suit says violates the Iowa Consumer Fraud act.

It says that some marketing materials used by the company pushed that link, like a T-shirt that says, “Templeton Rye: Made in Iowa” and a promotional flyer touting a “small-batch rye whiskey made in the tiny town of Templeton.”

“Consumers, seeking an alternative to mainstream, mass-produced alcoholic beverages have purchased hundreds of thousands of bottles of Defendant’s Templeton Rye and have paid a premium price over other whiskeys to obtain those qualities,” the lawsuit said. “Unfortunately, thousands of consumers across the country have been injured by Defendant’s deceptive marketing practices.”

Templeton Rye has said it will start printing labels noting that it’s distilled in Indiana and bottled in Iowa.

Templeton Rye misled consumers, lawsuit says [Des Moines Register]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.