OGDEN -- The head of Idaho's liquor division said Friday that he is willing to work with a broker to explore solutions that enable Five Wives Vodka, produced by Ogden's Own Distillery, to be sold in that state.
Jeff Anderson, director of the Idaho State Liquor Division, said he has been in contact with John Challenger, owner of Boise-based Elite Spirit Distribution, which is attempting to get Five Wives on store shelves.
"We are willing to listen," Anderson said in a phone interview. "We have an open door policy."
Steve Conlin, an owner of Ogden's Own Distillery, said he was unaware of an appeal process to the Idaho State Liquor Division but is willing to discuss the issue with Anderson.
"It's our goal to sell the product in Idaho," Conlin said.
Anderson has said Ogden's Own applied two months ago to have its vodka listed for sale in Idaho liquor stores and was not accepted for marketing reasons.
He has said the Idaho liquor list already has 106 different brands of vodka at a wide range of prices, and Five Wives "doesn't differentiate itself in any significant way at the price point at which it was going to compete."
A second application to let Five Wives be sold by bars that special order it was also rejected.
Conlin said at least one bar in Boise has requested to stock Five Wives, which to his knowledge is all that's required to grant a special order permit.
Anderson told the Standard-Examiner that Ogden Own's "story line" that Five Wives has been banned in Idaho is untrue since the state routinely rejects numerous alcohol products that fail to meet a myriad of requirements. The criteria include packaging, product quality, marketing, price, profit margin and competitors on the shelf.
However, Anderson gave a nod to Ogden's Own for shrewdly using the controversy surrounding Five Wives to generate public interest.
"The use of viral marketing to get publicity has been brilliant," he said.
Anderson said he's willing to work with Ogden's Own, but still has concerns about the Five Wives label, which depicts five women each raising the front of her dress to cradle a cat. It comes from a picture of the Barrison Sisters, an 1890s vaudeville act that had a bawdy finale.
Ogden's Own has sold more than 1,000 T-shirts at $14 each since the controversy over Five Wives erupted this week. Proceeds from Idaho sales of the shirts will be donated to the Boise Music Festival on July 7, as Ogden's Own remains involved as a sponsor of the festival.
Standard-Examiner wire services contributed to this report.