Exclusive news and research on the wine, spirits and beer business

News Briefs for November 22, 2013

November 22, 2013

Brown-Forman CFO Don Berg will retire from the company at the end of this fiscal year, April 30, 2014. Berg will hand off CFO duties to 22-year company veteran Jane MorreauJanuary 1 and assist in an orderly transition through his retirement date. Morreau is currently chief production officer, a position for which a replacement will be announced in the future. Brown-Forman CEO Paul Varga hailed Berg’s service in his 25 years with the company, noting, “During a period of great global economic instability, Brown-Forman performed at the top of the global spirits industry and generated superb total shareholder returns.” (Yesterday, B-F announced a 13% increase in its quarterly cash dividend.) Prior to serving as CFO, Berg led B-F’s first emerging markets organization, then known as the Advancing Markets Group, led the spirits business across the Americas and oversaw corporate development, corporate strategy, and corporate finance before assuming his current role in 2008.

•Suntory Ltd. has launched a new artisanal vodka brand, Ao, in the United States. The 40%-abv offering, made with Japanese rice, is produced via a proprietary pot still method at a small distillery in Osumi, Kyushu. Currently available exclusively in the New York metro market—where it’s imported by by Suntory USA and distributed by Southern Wine & Spirits—Ao is priced at $50 a 750-ml. In addition to Ao, Suntory’s U.S. portfolio includes the Midori liqueur and Yamazaki, Hakushu and Hibiki Japanese whisky brands, among other offerings.

•Oregon’s Hood River Distillers has updated the packaging of its Sinfire cinnamon-flavored whisky brand. Rolling out this month, the new look will include a thermochromic, color-changing label, designed to signal when the whisky has reached a temperature ideal for consumption. Additionally, the revamped label will feature photochromatic ink, which brightens the Sinfire logo when exposed to UV light. Launched in 2012, Sinfire is targeted primarily toward the shot occasion and is priced at around $17.99 a 750-ml. The offering is joined by the Pendleton, 1910 Rye, Monarch and Broker’s whisk(e)y brands in Hood River’s portfolio.

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