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Five Wives Distiller: Special Order Not Good Enough

Fri, 06/08/2012 - 9:44am
PAUL FOY,Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah distillery is happy Idaho will sell its cheeky Five Wives vodka by special order.

However, Ogden's Own Distillery lawyer Jonathan Turley said Thursday the company also wants Idaho regulators to stock Five Wives on shelves at state liquor stores.

Regulators are considering the request.

Idaho regulators initially refused to allow any sales of the product — with its not-so-subtle reference to polygamy — after branding it offensive to Mormons who make up a quarter of Idaho's population. The church dropped the practice of polygamy in 1890.

Those regulators reversed course on Wednesday and agreed to take special warehouse orders for the product. But that hasn't satisfied the distillery.

"We still remain deeply concerned about Idaho's original claim of authority that they can ban any product deemed offensive to a part of its population," said Turley, a George Washington University professor.

Turley said making Five Wives available only by special order is a half-measure and "an enormous hassle" for consumers and taverns that want it.

The distillery originally asked Idaho to stock Five Wives on liquor-store shelves. When that request was denied, the company asked for special-order status.

Turley said Jeffrey R. Anderson, director of the Idaho State Liquor Division, agreed to decide by July whether to approve the request for shelf sales. Anderson didn't immediately return a phone message Thursday from The Associated Press.

"We will be watching the process," Turley said, suggesting the company might sue the state if the request is denied.

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