Russia’s Federal Service for Supervision of Consumer Rights Protection and Human Well-Being, or Rospotrebnadzor, the same agency that has gripes with Filet-O-Fish sandwiches, is cementing its reputation as a full-fledged arbiter of American whiskey. First the watchdog group outlawed Kentucky Gentleman, a.k.a. the “PBR of bourbons,” and now it’s dropped the hammer on Jack Daniel’s Honey, allegedly because the Tennessee product just isn’t whiskey enough for them.
Store managers in and around the Urals have been given until today to take the product off shelves. The rationale for the latest ban goes something like this: Instead of mixing it with delicious ginger ale or lemonade, the watchdog group says it submitted samples of Jack Daniel’s Honey to extensive laboratory tests then was shocked when they found “hazardous” ingredients. Those turned out to be honey and sugar, things the groups said are “not usually used by whiskey producers,” which is true.
Problem is, Jack Daniel’s Honey isn’t whiskey. As marked plainly on the bottle, it’s a liqueur that happens to be made with whiskey. “Honey” is even part of its name, so while extensive gas chromatography-mass spectrometry may be great and all, it probably shouldn’t come as a shock that it’s also inside the bottle. Parent company Brown-Forman says the spirit is registered correctly, and that Russia changed its regulations without telling anyone. The agency seems to be aware of this, but is going full speed ahead with the ban on the “hazardous alcohol.”
Expect more sanctions-related politics disguised as consumer advocacy from Rospotrebnadzor in the next few weeks. Maybe they’ll go after Beefeater next for its apparent lack of red meat. Or maybe the Kremlin will send F.S.B. agents to Franklin County next to find out what really happened to all those missing cases of Pappy Van Winkle. We hear the reward is still valid, and they could have some really nice drinks along the way.