News Briefs for March 26, 2013March 26, 2013
•Heaven Hill Distilleries has released the 2003 vintage of its Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintage Bourbon. Created by master distillers Parker and Craig Beam, the 86.6-proof limited edition entry marks the 18th vintage in the Evan Williams Single Barrel series, which first launched in 1994. The 2003 edition is now available nationally both on- and off-premise, priced at around $25.99 a 750-ml. In addition to the Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintage, the brand’s stable includes the core Evan Williams Bourbon range, Evan Williams 1783, the Evan Williams Reserve flavored liqueurs and a variety of flavored seasonal liqueurs.
•Same-store sales at Darden Restaurants’ Specialty Restaurant Group—which includes Seasons 52, Yard House, Eddie V’s, Bahama Breeze and The Capital Grille—grew by 2.3% and the unit’s total revenue increased 61.1% to $287 million for the third quarter ended February 24. However, third-quarter same-store sales at Darden’s Olive Garden, Red Lobster and LongHorn Steakhouse brands fell 4.6%, which is slightly higher than the 4.5% decrease the company predicted earlier this year. Still, both Olive Garden and LongHorn posted revenue increases for the quarter. Darden’s overall revenue for the third quarter grew 4.6% to $2.26 billion, though net income was down 18% to $134.4 million. The company anticipates overall sales growth of 6%-7% for fiscal 2013.
•Napa Valley’s Cuvaison Estate Wines has unveiled an updated package for its eponymous wine brand, as well as two new limited-production offerings. The new packaging, which debuted with Cuvaison’s release of its 2011 Estate Chardonnay ($25 a 750-ml.) and 2011 Estate Pinot Noir ($38), features a clean, modern logo, updated fonts and a foil trim. Concurrently, the brand is prepping the launch of Kite Tail Chardonnay and Spire Pinot Noir under its Single Block series. Limited quantities of both Kite Tail and Spire will be available in select markets this spring, priced at $42 and $45, respectively. A family-owned estate founded in 1969, Cuvaison Estate Wines also owns the Brandlin label, produced at Napa’s Brandlin Vineyard on Mount Veeder.
•A year after launching Bud Light Lime-A-Rita, Anheuser-Busch is rolling out a new flavor extension, Straw-Ber-Rita. The new entry will be available in 12-packs of eight-ounce cans, four-packs of 16-ounce cans, or in 24-ounce cans. The 8%-abv flavored malt beverage combines Bud Light Lime with the taste of a Strawberry Margarita. A-B launched Bud Light Lime-A-Rita last April, and the brand jumped out to 7.3 million (2.25-gallon) cases in volume last year, according to Impact Databank estimates, making it the top-selling RTD entry among Impact’s “Hot Brands.”
•Washington, D.C.-based Georgetown Trading Co. has unveiled its latest release, Pow-wow botanical rye whiskey. It is available now in Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Texas, Washington, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Florida and Washington, D.C., priced at $41 a 750-ml. The small-batch whiskey (90-proof) is inspired by an old colonial recipe and is infused over an extended period of time with saffron, orange peel and other botanicals. Producer and importer Georgetown Trading’s portfolio also includes James E. Pepper Kentucky whiskey as well as the John L. Sullivan Irish whiskey brand.