FKNG Bourbon Latest Brand to use Profanity for Shock Value
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This Brand Hopes an F-Bomb Will Convince you to buy its Whiskey


Resist Spirits’ FKNG Bourbon is using thinly veiled profanity in its name and branding for the sake of shock value. (Photo: Resist Spirits)

The days of mild-mannered spirits brands marketing themselves as inoffensively as possible, so as not to offend potential customers, are falling by the wayside, replaced by brands intentionally standing out with shock value in order to stick in the minds of consumers. In August 2020, Slapdick Whiskey hit shelves, courtesy of Coach Jason Brown, who was featured in Netflix series Last Chance U. Earlier this month, an Independent Complaints Panel ruled Hong Kong brand Fok Hing Gin — which claimed to be innocently named after a famous Hong Kong street — offensive.

Those two brands have faced big trouble, Slapdick for its founder’s behavior and Fok Hing for its name and marketing, which included phrases such as “Fok Off,” “Fokthehaters,” “I Need A Fok Hing Drink” and “Good Fok Hing luck!”

Meanwhile, Resist Spirits’ “FKNG” brand of spirits, which launched its FKNG Vodka in Summer 2018, is still going strong. Much like Fok Hing Gin, FKNG has a non-obscene explanation for its name, which stands for For Kings Not Gods. Also much like Fok Hing Gin, the puns used in FKNG’s marketing make it apparent that the brand is perfectly aware what its name sounds like. The brand’s Instagram posts use phrases such as “When you are a FKNG KING, who needs vowels?” and “Queens don’t compromise, they get what they FKNG want.”

This October, Resist launched its second spirit in the FKNG line, FKNG Bourbon, and plans to release FKNG CIGARS, FKNG Rum, FKNG Tequila and FKNG Gin in the future.

Can Resist Spirits Get in Trouble for the ‘FKNG’ Name?

Based in Detroit, Michigan, Resist Spirits is under U.S. jurisdiction, unlike Fok Hing Gin. A Supreme Court ruling in 2019 determined that streetwear brand FUCT be allowed to keep its name as is, despite sounding like “fucked.” Three justices partially dissented, however, noting that a ban on “scandalous” trademarks should be upheld. Those justices were worried about companies seeing this precedent and creating brands named with racial slurs, which obviously isn’t the case with FKNG. So as far as the Supreme Court goes, the name “FKNG” shouldn’t be an issue.

However, streetwear isn’t alcohol, and there are different regulations for booze companies. According to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau’s Code of Federal Regulations, “any statement, design, device or representation which is obscene or indecent” on a label or advertisement is prohibited.

The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, meanwhile, prohibits any “lewd or indecent images or language,” according to its Code of Responsible Practices.

Does “FKNG” qualify as obscene or indecent to the TTB or lewd or indecent to DISCUS? It’s open to open interpretation and hard to say for certain. But the fact that FKNG products have been selling since 2018 and haven’t been shut down yet is probably a good sign.

According to Resist Spirits’ website, FKNG Bourbon is a small batch that was aged for four years. The website lists “delicious caramel and vanilla notes with hints of oak and spice” as tasting notes on the palate, with a smoky finish.

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