Friday, May 11, 2012
The Sixth Circuit: A Federal Court that Knows its Bourbon
The legal rendering itself is not particularly remarkable, though I don't envy Diageo having to defend itself against a beloved bourbon distillery in a court that sits just across the river from Kentucky. What is remarkable is that the Court went out of its way to discuss bourbon and its history.
The opinion opens with a wonderful quote from Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black, "I was brought up to believe that Scotch whisky would need a tax preference to survivie in competition with Kentucky bourbon." The Court then goes on to discuss the origins of bourbon, its history and the specific history of Maker's Mark, even dropping a footnote regarding controversies over the proper spelling of whiskey. The fantastic part is that the Court gets it right, quoting such noted authorities as Chuck Cowdery (not just his book but also articles from his Bourbon Country Reader), Mike Veach and Gary & Mardee Regan. Clearly one of these judges (or one of their clerks) is a bourbon fan who knows his or her stuff.
For those of you who don't read court decisions for a living, they can be mind numbingly boring, but this one is well written and animated. Kudos to the Sixth Circuit as well as Chuck, Mike and the Regans.
You can find the opinion here, and the fun part is on pages 2-7.
UPDATE: See Chuck Cowdery's own report on the case here.