When Goodwood told people they had acquired infamous collapsed Warehouse 30 barrels from Barton, I immediately looked into it, wondering why Sazerac would put these barrels on the open market before launching their own Warehouse 30 product. This is the same company that released the renowned tornado bourbon; why, on earth, would they not take advantage of the collapsed warehouse?
The product in question was 90-proof bourbon Goodwood finished in stout barrels.
Sazerac denied selling barrels to Goodwood or a barrel broker, which I Tweeted, and Goodwood founder Ted Mitzlaff, who was not immediately available, told LEO Magazine: “I don’t know why they would deny it. I’m not worried about it.” Furthermore, Goodwood representatives privately wrote people that the barrels were 100% from the collapsed barrel warehouse.
Goodwood had claimed they acquired the barrels from a broker, but I had also spoken to barrel brokers who had not even heard of these collapsed barrels being on the market. If these barrels were available, my sources would know.
Well, Sazerac didn’t take too kindly to Mitzlaff’s comments or the use of their trademarks. They sent Goodwood a cease and desist letter, which I have obtained and states:
“As you likely know, Sazerac meticulously tracks the location and disposition of every single barrel in its rick houses. Sazerac is thus able to account for every barrel that survived the partial collapse of Warehouse 30, and determined that all surviving barrels are either still at the facility or have been moved to other facilities where their locations have been verified. Thus, the claim to have acquired either barrels or liquid from the Warehouse 30 collapse cannot be true.
“The claim that your product is sourced from Barton 1792 thus constitutes false advertising as well as infringement of the registered BARTON and 1792 trademarks, in violation of federal and state law. This is something Sazerac cannot permit. Accordingly, Sazerac hereby insists that you:
“1) Immediately and permanently discontinue all claims, whether express or implied, that your bourbon was sourced from Warehouse 30 or the Barton 1792 facility;
“2) Promptly issue a public clarification identifying the correct source for your product;
“3) Provide us with a detailed accounting of where and how you purchased the bourbon used for your product.”
According to Sazerac, Goodwood responded quickly and stated it was an “innocent mistake.” They have appeared to delete public materials linking their product to the collapsed barrels.
After this post was initially published, Mitzlaff wrote me: “Unfortunately, we were given misinformation about the origin of the bourbon. We believed it was part of the fallen rick house. Once we realized this was not the case, we immediately rescinded all assertions. We are moving forward with the product sales, which have exceeded our expectations. We deeply regret our misstatement and will make every effort to avoid such a mistake ever again.”
His response got me to thinking: Many new bourbons get cease-and-desist letters for trademark violations these days. Goodwood’s just got a lot more attention.