Fireball Lawsuit Explains Why You Can Buy it in Grocery Stores

There's more than one variety out there

Fireball bottles
Miniature bottles of Fireball Whisky on display during the 2022 Bar & Restaurant Expo and World Tea Conference + Expo at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
David Becker/Getty Images for Nightclub & Bar Media Group

For the last year or so, a sight at my local grocery store has regularly baffled me. Near the end of one of the aisle, beside things you might expect to see in a grocery store in New York — seltzer and hummus and spices — there’s also a trove of tiny bottles of Fireball, the ubiquitous cinnamon-flavored whiskey. This is baffling because New York has not, as far as I know, legalized the sale of spirits in grocery stores. And yet there they are, travel size bottles of whiskey, there for purchase.

It turns out there’s a very good reason why those bottles are there — because apparently, they aren’t whiskey at all.

Via Yahoo, The Washington Post has a solution for this whiskey-adjacent mystery. It turns out that if you’re buying a bottle of Fireball at your local liquor store, you are indeed purchasing whiskey, but if you see it elsewhere — like, say, your local grocery store — the bottle instead contains “a malt beverage flavored to taste like whiskey.”

Besides the location, there’s another way to tell which version you’re looking at. If the label says “Fireball Cinnamon Whisky,” it’s whiskey; if it says “Fireball Cinnamon,” you’re looking at malt liquor.

As for the lawsuit, an Illinois resident named Anna Marquez brought it against Sazerac, arguing that the label of the malt liquor version is misleading. Her attorney, Spencer Sheehan, has made a name for himself by targeting food and beverage companies for flavor claims on packaging. Whatever the outcome of the suit is, however, you may well have a better sense of what you’re buying the next time you’re craving spicy booze. Assuming, of course, that you are craving spicy booze.


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