Angel's Envy, a premium boutique spirit produced by the family of the late Lincoln Henderson, is the subject of an Illinois lawsuit about the origins of the product.
Louisville Distilling Co., parent of Angel's Envy, was sued over its rye by Mario Aliano and his restaurant, Due Fratelli, in a potential class action. They are seeking more than $5 million in damages plus court costs.
Aliano and Due Fratelli have filed similar lawsuits in Illinois against the makers of Tito's Handmade Vodka and Tincup American Whiskey, marketed by Proximo Spirits of New Jersey. All the lawsuits have been filed by the same attorneys.
The plaintiffs allege that although Angel's Envy Rye is marketed and advertised as "small batch" and handcrafted, the whiskey is made by MGP in Lawrenceburg, Ind., using the same recipe as that of other ryes.
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"Consumers looking for small-batch, craft whiskey (instead of mass-produced whiskey) have purchased hundreds of thousands of bottles of Angel's Envy at a premium price ... ," the lawsuit alleged. "However, defendant's marketing and advertising is intentionally false and misleading."
The only activities that occur in Kentucky, the lawsuit said, are transferring the rye to rum barrels and filling the Angel's Envy bottles. Aliano contended that he wouldn't have bought Angel's Envy for himself or the restaurant had he known this.
Angel's Envy had no immediate comment on the lawsuit.
Angel's Envy has begun building a $12 million distillery in downtown Louisville but has bought bourbon and rye from other distillers for the products it has sold after "finishing" them in barrels that held other spirits. The sources of bourbon have not been disclosed.
According to Legal Newsline, the lawsuit originally was filed Oct. 28 in Cook County, Ill., Circuit Court but was moved Jan. 27 to U.S. District Court in Chicago.
Other prominent spirits makers, including Maker's Mark and Templeton Rye, have been hit with similar lawsuits over claims on their labels.