Fireball Cinnamon fans be warned — the mini bottles of the fiery drink you’re picking up at the convenience store do not actually contain any whiskey.
In fact, the drink is a malt beverage flavored to taste like whiskey, much to the dismay of Anna Marquez — the Illinois woman who is suing the Sazerac Company, the maker of Fireball, for “misleading” packaging.
The class-action lawsuit, which was filed by Marquez earlier this month, alleges that the labeling on the small 99-cent bottles of Fireball Cinnamon look misleadingly similar to the labeling on bottles of its other product, Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey.
Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey has 33% alcohol by volume, while Fireball Cinnamon has 16.5% alcohol by volume, according to the company’s website.
Customers “expecting those small bottles labeled ‘Fireball Cinnamon’ to contain whiskey ‘was an easy mistake to make, and one intended by the manufacturer,'” the suit reads. ‘In fact, what consumers were purchasing at non-liquor stores'[was] not whiskey at all even though the[ir] labels are almost identical.”
The lawsuit alleges that while it is legal for the company to use the brand name of “Fireball” for both drinks, federal and state legislation prohibits creating an overall “misleading impression.”
In addition to similar labels, the lawsuit complains about the text size on Fireball Cinnamon’s label describing its composition. The claim alleges that the phrasing, “Malt Beverage With Natural Whiskey & Other Flavors and Carmel Color” is written in the “smallest allowed size.”
The use of the phrase “natural whisky” creates misunderstandings about the product, the lawsuits also states.
“Using the words ‘With Natural Whiskey & Other Flavors’ is a clever turn of phrase because consumers who strain to read this will see how ‘Natural Whiskey’ is distinct from ‘Other Flavors,'” the lawsuit reads.
Customers “will think the product is a malt beverage with added (1) natural whiskey and (2) other flavors,” it added.
In other words, buyers may believe that natural whiskey is added to the drink as a separate ingredient, rather than understanding that only “whiskey flavors” are added.
On the Fireball website, the company spells out the difference between its whiskey and malt products.
“There are 2 key differences between the Fireball Cinnamon labels vs the Fireball Whiskey label: Any package with Fireball ‘Cinnamon Whiskey’ on the front label is our whiskey-based product,” the site explains. “Any product with Fireball ‘Cinnamon’ on the front label, without ‘Whiskey’, is either our malt-based or wine-based product.”
The lawsuit, though filed solely by Marquez, seeks to cover anyone in Illinois, North Dakota, Wyoming, Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Mississippi, Iowa, South Carolina, Kansas, Arkansas, and Utah who has purchased Fireball Cinnamon.