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

News Briefs for September 27, 2011

September 27, 2011

Heaven Hill Distilleries will release the fifth edition of Parker’s Heritage Collection aged American whiskies across the U.S. this month. Priced at $80 a 750-ml., the limited edition 2011 version is a 10-year-old Bourbon finished in Cognac casks, representing the first “wood-finished” Bourbon produced by Heaven Hill. The product was a collaboration between Heaven Hill master distiller Parker Beam, the grandnephew of Jim Beam, and sixth-generation Cognac master blender Alain Royer, founder of A. de Fussigny Cognac.

•Fast-food chains like Sonic, Burger King and Starbucks are seeing mixed results in their forays into beverage alcohol, according to a report in the New York Times. High margins have attracted such new players to the category, but regulatory and licensing issues appear to be discouraging beverage alcohol expansion for Sonic and Burger King in particular. Burger King, which has introduced beer at six of its upscale Whopper Bar locations, has encountered difficulties obtaining licensing at others (it has abandoned plans to serve beer at its Times Square Whopper Bar after failing to receive approval for a license). Sonic and Starbucks have both tested beer and wine as a way to increase their evening traffic, but the former says drinks sales have so far been slow in their limited rollout, and licensing, the training of employees and a potential rise in insurance rates have presented obstacles. Starbucks told the Times that feedback on its wine and beer sales at five pilot locations in the Pacific Northwest has been positive, but the company has yet to expand its drinks offerings beyond its home region.

•Heineken USA has made two senior level appointments. Nick Lake has been appointed senior director, category management, and Monique Acevedo was named vice president of innovation. Lake’s new position, which is effective October 11, puts him in charge of 16 category managers focusing on national off-premise and on-premise chain accounts. He comes to Heineken from Nielsen, where he was vice president group client director for the beverage alcohol industry. Lake will be reporting to Heineken USA’s vice president of national accounts, Steve Ward. Acevedo will move into her newly created position on September 28 and will lead innovation for all Heineken USA brands, reporting directly to chief marketing officer Lesya Lesyj. She was most recently director of innovation at Diageo.

•MillerCoors has filed a lawsuit against the NFL’s New England Patriots, claiming that the team unlawfully reneged on an exclusive sponsorship deal originally set to run from the end of this season through 2019. According to media sources, the Patriots have dropped MillerCoors in favor of a more profitable tie-up with rival brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev, despite having allegedly negotiated a renewed contract with MillerCoors. MillerCoors has served as an official Patriots sponsor for nearly 10 years, with the most recent deal set to expire in February 2012.

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