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Fight rages over definition of Tennessee whiskey

Bottles of George Dickel Tennessee whiskey are displayed in a liquor store Tuesday, June 10, 2014, in Nashville, Tenn.
AP
Bottles of George Dickel Tennessee whiskey are displayed in a liquor store Tuesday, June 10, 2014, in Nashville, Tenn.

A battle between two worldwide liquor companies—owners of rival brands Jack Daniel's and smaller rival George Dickel—is being waged over who has the right to label their whiskey as following authentic Tennessee style.

It's among the epicurean battles being waged around the world over what food and drink should carry special status as local and unique.

British-based liquor conglomerate Diageo PLC on Tuesday prevailed in getting state regulators to drop an investigation into allegations that Dickel violated state law by aging its whiskey in neighboring Kentucky.

The calm is likely to be short-lived. State lawmakers this summer are expected to once again consider changes to the legal definition of Tennessee whiskey, which is as entwined in the state's identity as Maine lobsters and Maryland crab cakes.

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