State drops enforcement against Diageo, George Dickel

Global distiller had sued in federal court

Attorneys for the state of Tennessee have dropped their attempts to prevent George Dickel and parent company Diageo from sending barrels of their products to Kentucky warehouses.

Diageo sued the state and Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission director Kenneth Bell in April after Bell threatened to enforce a state statute only allowing storage within a county or adjacent county from where the product was distilled.

In testimony today, however, Dickel's master distiller John Lunn said that whiskey had been moved to Kentucky for blending into other Diageo products. All George Dickel products are made and aged in Tennessee, Lunn said. Roughly 16,000 barrels of bourbon were at issue.

Bone McAllester Norton attorney Will Cheek, who represented Diageo, said that the judge has asked the two sides to agree to an order resolving the dispute. 

"Based on the [director's] email and that they had jumped to the conclusion that there had been a violation and a follow-up call to attorneys for Diageo, we thought they were going to move straight to enforcement," Cheek said, hence the lawsuit against Bell.