Bottles of rum bearing the name and likeness of adult-film star Ron Jeremy have been yanked from the shelves of Manitoba liquor stores -- without explanation from provincial authorities.
In January, 26 Liquor Marts in Manitoba began selling Ron de Jeremy, a seven-year-old premium rum produced in Panama. The Manitoba Liquor Control Commission ordered 60 cases of the 80-proof rum, which retailed for $43.75 before taxes for a 26-ounce bottle.
The name of the product is a play on words, as ron means rum in Spanish while the 59-year-old Jeremy is one of the world's best-known porn stars. The Ron de Jeremy product line was launched in 2010 and is marketed as "the adult rum" with a "long, smooth taste" on the company's U.S.-based website.
The bottle's label features Jeremy's face but no reference to his work in thousands of pornographic films. The product went on sale in Manitoba on Jan. 24 but was removed from Liquor Mart shelves nine days later, said Andreas Runesson, managing director of operations for Simplicity Wines, the product's Winnipeg-based importer.
"We still have no idea why," Runesson said Wednesday, noting he was informed of the decision on Feb. 4. "We have asked them to explain and give us specifics about their concerns."
Runesson said Simplicity Wines approached the Manitoba Liquor Control Commission with the product in July 2012 and provided a sample that included the rum's retail packaging. In January, liquor authorities informed the company the product was approved for sale, Runesson said.
It was listed as a special order, which means the managers of the 26 stores that stocked the product would have made a conscious decision to place it on their shelves, he said.
"We have done nothing wrong. We followed procedures 100 per cent, every step of the way," he said. "We have asked for an explanation a number of times."
Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries spokeswoman Karen Hiebert said Wednesday communications staff are investigating why the product was pulled from the shelves.
Runesson said he hopes Ron de Jeremy will reappear in Liquor Marts. His company is less than a year old and only represents 28 other products -- 10 whiskeys, six varieties of beer, five wines, four vodkas and three ciders.
Manitoba Liquor Marts, meanwhile, stock a variety of products with sexually suggestive or otherwise edgy brand names, including Sex on the Beach shooters, Kinky liquor and Fat Bastard wines.
The real-life Ron Jeremy, meanwhile, is attempting a return of his own. After suffering from an aneurysm near his heart in January, he underwent surgery and was recovering in a Los Angeles hospital earlier this month, according to U.S. reports.