Riding the Local Foods Wave: Tennessee Whiskey As Terroir?

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 17:40
Oral Presentation
Douglas CONSTANCE, Sam Houston State University, USA
The concepts of terroir, denominations of origin and geographic indications have emerged in the sociology of agrifood literature as ways to designate and legally protect the special climatological and cultural aspects of regionals foods and drinks. Champagne, Parmesan Cheese, and Tequila are notable examples. These official designations are now central dimensions of the local foods phenomenon around the world and in agrifood studies. In Spring 2013 a controversy emerged in Tennessee over laws passed with the support of Jack Daniels to create an official definition of Tennessee Whiskey, a special form of American bourbon whiskey. Small distillers in Tennessee and the major distilled spirits transnational corporation Diageo of the UK challenged the new laws as an unfair action to restrict entry and protect market share. Jack Daniels defended the law as necessary to protect the integrity and quality of whiskey. The controversy between Jack Daniels (owned by Brown Forman) and George Dickel (owned by Diageo) continued in the courts for four years. We employ the case of the contested definition of Tennessee Whiskey to inform discussions on the role of geographic indications in local foods and the sociology of agrifood studies.