Gas Station Fireball Cinnamon Is Facing A Major Lawsuit For Not Actually Being Whiskey

Fireball is taking the heat once again. The cinnamon-ey sweet liquor may be seemingly everywhere now, but it's actually been around for decades. The now-popular brand didn't always have quite the same name — in the 1980s, it was part of the Dr. McGillicuddy stable of flavored schnapps, sold as Dr. McGillicuddy's Fireball Whisky (via Bloomberg). In 2007, fusty old Dr. McGillicuddy's Fireball Whisky got rebranded, repackaged, and renamed (but with the same formula) as Fireball Cinnamon Whisky and the Sazerac Company, the brand's current owner, went looking for a new market to match the zesty drink's new image.

Ever wondered why you hear about Fireball in country songs, such as Florida Georgia Line's "Round Here"? As Bloomberg reports, country music epicenter Nashville was the revamped brand's first target market. Fireball marketing whiz Richard Pomes soon switched strategies to focus on colleges and the brand really took off. But the best-selling brand came under fire in 2014 when it was pulled from shelves in Europe for containing an ingredient found in antifreeze (per CBS News). Now Fireball is back in the hot seat again, this time in the U.S.

Fireball faces class action suit in 12 states

According to Whiskey Raiders, Fireball owner Sazerac is currently facing a class action lawsuit. If you've ever bought a mini bottle of Fireball Cinnamon at a gas station, you might've wondered how they get it to taste so sweet and blatantly not like whisky. The answer is simple: It's not whisky at all. The small bottles sold at gas stations, bodegas, and convenience stores are an entirely different cinnamon-flavored alcohol product, though it's cleverly packaged and labeled to look the same to unwitting consumers. That's precisely why they're being sued.

What you buy in the miniature bottles at the gas station is technically a flavored malt beverage, although you may need detective skills to find that out from the packaging. The graphics on the label are identical to those seen on the full-size Fireball Cinnamon Whisky. The malt beverage version is simply labeled "Fireball Cinnamon." As The Takeout explains, this malt beverage status allows it to be sold at businesses that are not licensed to sell liquor but can sell beer and wine. In tiny print, the bottle does say admit to being a "malt beverage with natural whisky and other flavors and caramel color," which makes it sound like a malt beverage with whisky added. However, this merely refers to whisky flavoring. The lawsuit, which was filed on January 7, 2023, claims "[e]xpecting those small bottles labeled 'Fireball Cinnamon' to contain whiskey "[was] an easy mistake to make, and one intended by the manufacturer" (per Class Action.Org).