LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The label on a bottle of Maker's Mark says “handmade,” but any reasonable consumer knows the Kentucky bourbon is not completely made by hand.


That's one way Maker's Mark parent company Beam-Suntory defends itself against a pair of class-action lawsuits that allege the word “handmade” on a Maker's bottle is false and misleading because the process is, in fact, “mechanized and automated.”


“(C)ommon sense dictates that ‘handmade' bourbon does not mean…that every step of the process—from grinding the grain to affixing the label on the bottle—was done by hand and without the use of any machinery,” an attorney for Maker's Mark wrote in the company's court response to one of the suits, filed in federal court in San Diego.


Maker's put forth the same defense to a similar lawsuit filed in federal court in Tallahassee, Florida. 


The lawsuits, filed within days of each other in early December, remain pending, according to electronic court records.


Maker's Mark attorneys also argue that the label was “reviewed and pre-approved” by a federal agency – the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau – which enforces labeling requirements for alcoholic beverages.


They say anyone can see how the bourbon is made at the Maker's Mark Distillery in Loretto, Ky., including the machinery involved, on the Maker's Mark website – so no consumer can claim to be misled.


The lawsuits were filed by consumers who claim that the “handmade” statement led them to purchase Maker's Mark “under the false impression that the whisky was of superior quality,” as the San Diego complaint says.

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