Bourbon & Politics: A Deadly Combination

Of the many tragicomic sidelines to the 2008 election, two bargain-basement bourbon makers are fighting a publicity stunt “war” over presidential candidates.

Connecticut’s Jeremiah Weed Bourbon, a cult favorite of United States Air Force fighter pilots, recently accused fellow bargain whiskey Evan Williams of playing favorites in the 2008 election by sending complementary bottles of bourbon to noted shot lover Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Via the “Mr. Jeremiah Weed Speaks” blog, the distillery accused Evan Williams of trying to sway Kentucky voters:

“It has now come to my attention that my good friends at Evan Williams Bourbon have sent bottles of their product to Senators Clinton and Obama in the hope that they will be seen drinking Evan Williams when they come to Kentucky in the coming weeks for the Presidential primary election. […] Evan Williams bourbon is clearly distraught over the fact that in Indiana, Senator Clinton chose to sip a whiskey that was not Evan Williams bourbon. This obviously caused Evan Williams to resort to political ploys to try to win the favor of Senators Obama and Clinton when they visit Kentucky, and in turn, unfairly influence the fine citizens there.”

Naturally, Jeremiah Weed decided to launch a Bourbon Primary that happened to ignore Jack Daniels, Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark and… err… every other brand of bourbon besides Jeremiah Weed and Evan Williams.

So how did Evan Williams fire back? They decided to dismiss Jeremiah Weed’s salvo as “erroneous and disingenuous”:

“Craig Beam, 7th generation Master Distiller at Heaven Hill, America’s largest independent family-owned spirits producer, recently sent bottles of Evan Williams, America’s second-largest selling Kentucky Bourbon, to Democratic Presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and presumptive GOP nominee John McCain. […] Mr. Weed, or the blogger that assumes his identity, accuses us of trying to ‘unfairly influence’ Kentucky voters by ‘trying to win the favor of Senators Obama and Clinton’ […] They fail to mention that we also sent a bottle of Evan Williams to Senator McCain, specifically to make the gesture evenhanded and bi-partisan. So clearly the only favor I’m trying to win is preventing the appearance of a bottle of Canadian Whisky on the Kentucky campaign trail. This also all sounds a bit suspect, considering that the folks with Jeremiah Weed also sent bottles to the candidates, according to their spokesman in an April 17th article in Advertising Age.”

In case you’re wondering, Craig Beam is descended from Jim Beam’s first cousin. And the Advertising Age article can be found here, complete with a taste tester calling 100-proof Jeremiah Wood “sugary-sweet” and “girl bourbon.”

So, yes, it’s all very stupid and reeks of publicity stuntdom. But these two drink makers are going to the bank on it.

Jeremiah Weed [Official Site]
Evan Williams [Official Site]

Bourbon & Politics: A Deadly Combination