News Briefs for February 6, 2013February 6, 2013
•Mongolian drinks group Apu is making its U.S. entry with a stable of premium vodka brands. Apu’s three vodka labels—Chinggis Khan ($40 a bottle), Soyombo ($30) and Arkhi ($20)—will initially be distributed in New York and California, with more markets to follow. Apu produces over 2 million cases of vodka annually. In addition to its domestic market, its brands are currently present in Russia and the U.K. The group’s international expansion is being led by industry veterans Jett Yang (managing director, international sales and marketing), James Espey (senior advisor for global expansion) and Arthur Shapiro (senior advisor on the U.S. market). Yang is a veteran of Bacardi and IDV, while Espey was formerly president of UDV North America and chairman of Chivas/Martell at Seagram. Shapiro, formerly executive vice president, marketing and strategy at Seagram, told SND the U.S. launch would be aimed aggressively at the general market, not specifically toward Mongolian or Asian consumers. He added that Apu plans to expand its U.S. offering in the future with a lower-priced vodka label and a beer brand, Golden Gobi.
•Concha y Toro has introduced two new blends to Casillero del Diablo’s portfolio. The Chilean wine brand added a Reserva Winemaker’s Red Blend and Reserva Coastal White blend (both priced at $12 a 750-ml). The red blend is a mix of Syrah, Carmenére and Cabernet Sauvignon aged in French and American oak for eight months, while Coastal White is a Chardonnay/Moscato blend. Both will be backed by a marketing campaign, running under the tagline “Enjoy the Legendary Taste of Fire and Ice.” Concurrently, the brand also released a Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc dessert wine ($12 a 375-ml.). Casillero del Diablo is imported by Excelsior Wines, a partnership between Concha y Toro with Banfi Vintners. The brand’s U.S. volume was approximately 355,000 nine-liter cases in 2011, and last August Banfi COO Marc Goodrich told Shanken News Daily that the brand hoped to reach 400,000 cases in 2012.
•Nobu Hospitality opened its largest Nobu restaurant this week in the new Nobu Tower hotel at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. The 12,775-square-foot outpost of the popular Japanese restaurant has seating for 327 guests with a sushi bar, private dining area and teppanyaki tables. Nobu Hospitality—which consists of chef Nobu Matsuhisa, actor Robert De Niro and film producer Meir Teper—currently owns and operates dozens of Nobu restaurants worldwide.
•Irish Distillers has announced that Barry Crockett, master distiller for Jameson Irish whiskey, is set to retire this March. Crockett, who spent a total of 47 years at the Cork-based Midleton Distillery and served as its master distiller for 31 years, will be succeeded by his protégé Brian Nation. Earlier this week, Whisky Advocate awarded Crockett its Lifetime Achievement Award, citing his contributions to both Midleton and the general rise of the Irish whiskey segment.