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News Briefs for October 3, 2013

October 3, 2013

•Portuguese authorities have lowered quality requirements for brandy used for the fortification of Port. The new law could lower production costs, but is also triggering anxiety over whether quality in the Port category might be negatively affected. Traditionally and by law, neutral grape spirit—basically unaged brandy—made from wine was used to fortify Port. The Port Wine Institute (IVDP) has to certify the brandy’s quality, but each Port house is allowed to buy its own. In June, authorities changed the regulations, allowing the use of brandy made from press wine for the fortification. Producers can also use wine racked off with the winemaking lees, the dead yeast cells that settle after fermentation. While both brandies are cheaper to produce, they can have an herbaceous, rustic character that some winemakers worry could damage Port’s image as a premium product. The change comes as a consequence of huge increases in wine brandy prices—from $4 to $18 per gallon from 2009 to 2013—that badly hurt producers’ bottom lines. For Wine Spectator’s full report, click here.

•Diageo is debuting a new single malt Scotch offering, Talisker Storm, in the U.S. market. Launching nationwide this month, the non-age-stated whisky is matured in oak for a minimum of three years and retails at $66 a 750-ml. Part of Diageo’s Classic Malts collection, Talisker is the only distillery on Scotland’s Isle of Skye.

•Beam Inc. is set to roll out a new batch of Booker’s Bourbon handpicked by whiskey experts in the coming days. Booker’s Bourbon Batch No. 2013-6 will hit shelves nationwide in early October, priced at $49.99 a 750-ml. The new offering is 126.5-proof and has been aged for seven years. Beam Master Distiller Fred Noe honored his father’s tasting tradition of sharing bottles with friends by hosting his own Booker’s Bourbon Roundtable, which consisted of a select group of whiskey advocates, writers and experts.

•Young’s Market Co. has promoted Dan Ewer to the position of executive vice president, corporate-wine, effective this month. In his new position, Ewer will continue to be headquartered in Washington state, charged with managing and developing Young’s wine business. Ewer, who has held senior executive roles with the company for 12 years, was most recently senior vice president of wine for Young’s Northwest unit. Young’s Market is the fifth-largest wine and spirits wholesaler in the U.S., with 2012 revenues of approximately $2.35 billion, according to Impact.

•Heineken USA will introduce a new look for Dos Equis Lager and Ambar beers this fall as part of its new Ultimate Masquerade campaign. Each pack and bottle will feature a graphic designed by artist Hydro 74, and will only be available for a limited time. Additionally, as part of the Ultimate Masquerade campaign, Dos Equis will launch new ads featuring its “Most Interesting Man in the World” character, as well as four additional videos that will run digitally through November.

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