Kings County Distillery Fights Misinformation Claims
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‘Kings County Is a Viper You Don’t Want To Step On’: Distillery Fights Misinformation Claims From Irish Whiskey Association

Kings County

Whiskey and Moonshine are on display at the Kings County Distillery, New York City’s oldest operating whiskey distillery and the first since prohibition, Sept. 22, 2012 at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in New York. (Photo: EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/GettyImages)

Kings County Distillery has Come under fire for its clearly labeled Irish Style Whiskey. The Irish Whiskey Association (IWA) claims that the label is “misleading consumers.” According to Kings County via Twitter, the brand received a letter informing it that its Irish-style Whiskey was not compliant with the standards set to be called Irish Whiskey.

It seems the IWA is sending a lazy warning shot to Kings County, which — rightfully  — did not take it well. Now, the distillery is taking the beef Twitter to get the story in front of the public eye.

Spirit labels, especially whiskey, are heavily regulated by governments, often times with strict rules that distilleries have to adhere to. And it looks like Kings County has the receipts to dispute the trade organization coming after it.

The Irish Whiskey Association is a trade group that looks out for Irish distillers and upholds certain standards for what can be called Irish whiskey. Right now, according to the Irish Whiskey Association, in order for a whiskey to be called Irish whiskey, it has to be made in Ireland and aged for at least three years. Triple distillation in pot stills is viewed to be the traditional method of distillery by the Association, although other distillation methods are not formally disallowed.

Kings County Distillery, located in New York USA, made an “Irish-style” whiskey using the same production processes that traditional Irish distilleries use. Thus, the brand called its whiskey an “Irish Style”  in order to avoid any issues with labeling. The whiskey and its branding was approved by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.

Jay West (t8ke), Whiskey Raiders’ resident spirits critic and industry guru, chided the IWA, saying: “The Irish Whiskey Association is notoriously understaffed compared to other Trade Groups. … There are probably bigger issues in Ireland to attend to.”

Going after Kings County distillery over its Irish Style whiskey appears to be an example of IWA focusing on less-important issues. The threatening letter it sent had no relevance in the United States, where it has no jurisdiction. Furthermore, Kings County has a reputation for being a feisty brand that won’t back down, which the IWA most likely didn’t know when it sent the letter.

“My professional analysis here is that the Irish Whiskey Association is trying to send a message, albeit they picked the wrong target, both because Kings County is doing nothing wrong, and because Kings County is a viper you don’t want to step on if you’re trying to quietly intimidate someone,” West said.

We’ll continue to watch the dispute unfold as it’s unclear how sternly the IWA confronted Kings County. There’s surely more to come.

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