Beam sued over Michael Collins whiskey deal

4th March, 2013 by Andy Young

New York-based Sidney Frank Importing (SIFC) is suing Beam for US$100 million after claiming that a production contract has been broken.

Michael Collins whiskeySFIC was sourcing Michael Collins whiskey from the Cooley Distillery, which Beam bought for $95m in late 2011 and SFIC claims that Beam, the maker of Jim Beam, Canadian Club and Maker’s Mark, has cut off its supply of whiskey.

In its complaint SFIC said: “Cooley unilaterally and wholly without justification abandoned its supply contract with SFIC.

“Beam orchestrated this move in order to monopolise Cooley’s production capacity for the benefit of its Kilbeggan brand, which Beam is aggressively promoting in the US where Michael Collins had been ascending rapidly.”

SFIC added that the move is part of Beam’s strategy for challenging Jameson’s as the best-selling Irish whiskey in the US and that Beam wants to cut the number of private-label whiskeys on the market.

Beam and Cooley are expected to challenge the lawsuit and Clarkson Hine, a Beam spokesman, told Bloomberg: “We have been in commercial discussions with Sidney Frank regarding this matter. We are confident in our position and that we will prevail.”

Michael Collins first went on sale in 2006, selling 9,000 cases in 2011 and among the issues that SFIC’s lawsuit claims for are breach of contract and unfair competition.

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