US distillers sued for $100m over Michael Collins Irish Whiskey
Importer claims Beam Inc cut off access to whiskey supply
A New York-based importer is suing the US makers of Jim Bean, Canadian Club and Makers Mark for $100 million for breach of contract.
The Sidney Frank Importing Co (SFIC) claimed in a suit filed Friday in Manhattan federal court that Beam Inc cut off its access to Michael Collins Irish Whiskey after Beam acquired its Cooley Distillery unit last year, reports the Irish Examiner.
“Cooley unilaterally and wholly without justification abandoned its supply contract with SFIC,” the importer claimed in the complaint.
“Beam orchestrated this move in order to monopolize Cooley’s production capacity for the benefit of its Kilbeggan brand, which Beam is aggressively promoting in the United States where Michael Collins had been ascending rapidly."
SFIC claims that Beam’s aims to challenge the top-selling Jameson Irish Whiskey brand and rid the market of private-label whiskeys including Michael Collins.
The importer is suing Beam and Cooley for breach of contract, unfair competition and tortious interference with SFIC’s business relationships with distributors throughout the US.
Said Beam spokesperson Clarkson Hine: “We have been in commercial discussions with Sidney Frank regarding this matter.
“We are confident in our position and that we will prevail."
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