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

News Briefs for March 1, 2019

March 1, 2019

•Beverage alcohol delivery provider Drizly is eyeing entry into the cannabis category, and is suing former CEO Nick Rellas over his own cannabis business plan, saying it violates a non-compete agreement. Drizly sued Rellas last week in Massachusetts’ Suffolk Superior Court, Law360 reports. Rellas, who founded Drizly with his cousin Cory Rellas in 2012, left the group last August, with Cory taking over as CEO. According to Drizly’s complaint, Nick Rellas took part in the planning for Drizly’s cannabis entry while still with the company, and his non-compete agreement with the group prohibits him from directly or indirectly competing with his former firm for a period of one year. The suit seeks to prevent Rellas from going forward with his own cannabis plans as well as monetary damages. According to the complaint, Drizly is expecting to enter the cannabis e-commerce market this year.

•Russian Standard vodka is launching its ready-to-drink Moscow Mule nationwide. Clocking in at 8% abv, the canned cocktail is made with natural flavors and packaged in a 12-ounce copper-colored can, in a nod to the traditional Moscow Mule mug. The Russian Standard Moscow Mule is retail priced at $15 a 4-pack of cans. Roust Americas, the U.S. subsidiary of Russian Standard producer Roust Group, handles the brand stateside.

•Contract distiller MGP Ingredients saw strong growth in brown goods propel net sales in its distillery products unit up 7.9% to $314 million in its fiscal year through December. Specifically, MGP’s premium beverage alcohol sales rose 5.9% to $188.4 million, including an 11% jump for brown goods to $125.9 million. MGP president and CEO Gus Griffin said the company continues to see strong demand for American whiskies and is well positioned for further growth.

•The Tennessee Distillers Guild is launching two new whiskey-focused venues at Nashville International Airport, starting with a restaurant slated to open in December 2019. The restaurant, Three Casks, is designed in partnership with Minneapolis-based firm Aero Service Group and will feature Tennessee whiskey cocktails alongside a menu inspired by Nashville’s culinary scene. In addition, the Guild has teamed up with Las Vegas-based Marshall Retail Group to open the Trailhead, a new retail shop stocked exclusively with Tennessee’s native spirits. The store is set to open in 2023, once construction on Nashville International Airport’s new Concourse T is completed.

•Prestige Wine Imports, the New York-based subsidiary of Gruppo Mezzacorona, has promoted Rusty Pape to executive vice president. Pape, who has been with the company since 1991, was previously senior vice president, national sales manager. Replacing Pape in that role is Steven Menter, who has been with Prestige since 1994 and previously served as division manager and vice president, national sales manager. Prestige Wine Imports handles Mezzacorona, Rotari, Stemmari, and other Italian wines.

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