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

News Briefs for August 12, 2011

August 12, 2011

•Sonoma’s The Other Guys, a Sebastiani Family company, has introduced Masterson’s rye whisky, the first spirits entry from its newly formed 35 Maple division. Retailing for $79 per 750-ml., Masterson’s is named for Old West personality Bat Masterson. Roughly 4,000 cases of the new product, which is distilled in Alberta, Canada, are now rolling out in the U.S. market. 35 Maple is planning to complement Masterson’s with the launch of a botanical gin, an aged rum and a small-batch Bourbon over the next year.

•Pernod Ricard USA has launched Hiram Walker Caramel Apple, a 15%-abv liqueur, in the U.S. Priced at $9.99 a 750-ml., Caramel Apple joins a portfolio including 46 different flavors. Adam Gold, associate brand manager, Hiram Walker, Pernod Ricard USA says the new extension fits with the increasing popularity of dessert-flavored spirits and that its launch coincides with liqueurs’ key selling period. “An estimated 35% of cordial sales occur in the October through December period,” he says. Pernod USA suggests the new flavor as an addition to an Absolut Martini. Hiram Walker’s U.S. depletions decreased 3.1% in 2010 to 890,000 cases, according to Impact Databank.

•Brinker International’s company-owned comparable restaurant sales and restaurant traffic were both up 2.6% in its fiscal 4Q (ended June 29), as sales for Chili’s Grill & Bar and Maggiano’s Little Italy rose 2.1% and 5.7% respectively. The Dallas-based group’s overall revenues declined 3.4% to $717.5 million, primarily due to an additional operating week in the same period last year. Brinker’s overall net income—down 34% to $41.9 million—was also affected by the extra week in the year-earlier period. Encouraged by a fifth consecutive month of positive sales and customer traffic, however, Brinker president and CEO Doug Brooks aims to double earnings per share by 2015. Brinker claims more than 1,500 company-owned and franchised Chili’s outposts in over 31 countries, as well as 45 Maggiano’s locations in 21 states, the District of Columbia and Saudi Arabia.

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