In an odd marketing move, whiskey and bourbon distiller and distributor Heaven Hill posted a statement to its official Twitter account Sunday asking people who are buying its ‘Rittenhouse’ branded rye not to purchase the drink if they intend to use it to cheer the verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial.
On Friday, after days of deliberation over evidence that included extensive video footage, a jury found teen Kyle Rittenhouse “not guilty” for the shooting deaths of two men and wounding of a third during a riot in Kenosha, Wisconsin last year.
To celebrate what they view as a just outcome, some whiskey lovers began purchasing bottles of “Rittenhouse Rye.” The brand name is derived not from the recent court case but from Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia, an open-space park designed by William Penn and named for an early 19th-century papermaker.
Whiskey Raiders, a trade publication for the spirits industry, first reported the news on Monday, saying, “A quick search reveals a great number of tweets regarding celebrating the verdict with Heaven Hill’s rye. ‘Bartender, give me a Rittenhouse Rye on the rocks and make it a double! Justice has been served,’ wrote one user.”
Heaven Hill evidently wasn’t happy about the free advertising, tweeting, “We have been disheartened to learn that some individuals and businesses have been using our Rittenhouse Straight Rye Whiskey brand to celebrate the Kyle Rittenhouse case verdict, despite the profound loss of life from those events.”
The statement went on:
There is no link between our Rittenhouse Rye brand, which was started post-Prohibition to commemorate Rittenhouse Square, and this case.
It is our strongly held belief that in serious matters such as this, where lives were lost and people deeply affected, there is no cause for celebration, but instead deep reflection on how we can make the world a more peaceful and respectful place for all.
Many social media users didn’t appreciate the sentiments of the Kentucky-based company, which describes itself as the “largest independent, family-owned and operated producer and marketer of spirits” in the U.S.
Radio show host Jesse Kelly said of the post, “Rule #1: You don’t have to respond to everyone. In fact, don’t have to respond to ANYTHING. Shut your freaking mouth and let it blow over. Here’s a great example why that’s Rule #1.”
Justified actor Nick Searcy, who stars in the upcoming Daily Wire release, “Terror on the Prairie,” also blasted the company, replying, “I’m going to buy it and celebrate the #RittenhouseVerdict anyway, @heavenhill, and if you don’t like it, you can kiss my ass.”
Finally an account by the name of “Some Welder (With a Bulldozer)” reflected the views of the vast majority of the hundreds of replies by commenting, “They went out of their way to make sure you’re aware that, if you’re not a commie pos, their whiskey is not for you. These people don’t value your patronage, act accordingly.”