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News Briefs for April 9, 2013

April 9, 2013

•Carriage House Imports’ Sparkletini bubbly brand has added an açai-flavored extension. Sparkletini’s açai offering, now in national distribution, joins a line that already includes peach, green apple and raspberry flavors. The accessibly-priced malt-based sparkler has won five straight Impact “Hot Brand” awards. Last year its depletions rose 18% to 460,000 cases, according to Impact Databank.

Diageo has extended its Smirnoff Ice flavor portfolio with the launch of a new flavor, Peach Bellini. Smirnoff Ice Peach Bellini is a sparkling blend of peach and raspberry. The Smirnoff Ice flavors—which are generally priced around $7.99 for a six-pack of 11.2-ounce bottles—includes Original, Strawberry Açai, Wild Grape, Tropical Fruit, Triple Black, Raspberry Burst, Pineapple, Passion Fruit, Mango, Green Apple and Cherry Lime. In addition to Smirnoff Ice and Smirnoff Ice Black, Diageo’s Smirnoff malt beverage line-up also includes the Smirnoff Premium Malt Mixed Drinks range.

•Boston-based Latitude Beverage Company says its 90+ Cellars wine brand increased sales by 60% to hit 126,000 cases last year, thanks to continued strong growth in New England markets including Massachusetts and Vermont. The brand is also distributed in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Texas and New York. A negoçiant brand, 90+ Cellars (which won Impact “Hot Prospect” honors last year) sources its wine from the surplus supply of wineries with a history of 90+ ratings or other wine industry accolades. Import offerings are bottled at the source and imported by Latitude, while domestic wines are bottled at a crush facility in California. In calendar 2013, Latitude expects 90+ to reach 180,000 cases.

Beam Inc. yesterday announced changes to its North American sales team. Steve Bjeldanes was named general sales manager, Southern Region, which encompasses 14 states where Southern Wine & Spirits is Beam’s distributor partner. Bjeldanes has worked at Beam for eight years, most recently as general sales manager for control states, Beam Canada and U.S. national accounts. He will retain responsibility for national accounts, while Julious Grant will succeed him as general sales manager for control states and Beam Canada. Grant, whose appointment becomes effective May 7, has two decades of spirits industry experience, most recently in the United Kingdom as president/managing director of Bacardi/Brown-Forman House for the U.K. and Ireland. Prior to that, Grant was senior vice president-national sales director at Bacardi USA from 2007-2011. He also has held senior sales and marketing roles at Moët Hennessy USA, Diageo North America and Seagram. In addition, Tony Truzzolino, who previously was Beam’s general sales manager, Southern Region, now moves to Southern Wine & Spirits as senior vice president sales working on behalf of the Beam business. Truzzolino will report directly to Southern executive vice president, general manager Brad Vassar.

•Longmont, Colorado-based Oskar Blues has launched its Mama’s Little Yella Pils pilsner in a 568-ml. “Royal Pint” can format. The new canned version has the height of a 24-ounce can and the diameter of a 16-ounce can and will feature the same signature graphics from label’s original 12-ounce package. In addition to Mama’s Little Yella Pils, Oskar Blues also offers its flagship Dale’s Pale Ale in the Royal Pint can. The craft brewer, which opened a second brewery in Brevard, North Carolina in December, had an annual production for nearly 86,000 barrels last year.

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