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

News Briefs for February 1, 2012

February 1, 2012

Castle Brands is introducing a new ultra-premium Knappogue Castle Irish whiskey offering this month. Knappogue Castle Twin Wood 17-year-old is a single malt Irish whiskey, the second in the brand’s Twin Wood series (following a 16-year-old variant last year), named for its use of both Bourbon barrels and Sherry casks. The new 17-year-old spent 15 years and three months in Bourbon casks and another 21 months in Oloroso Sherry casks before being bottled in December. 4,500 bottles of Twin Wood 17-year-old were made. Available nationally in the U.S., it’s retailing for $100 a bottle.

•Constellation Brands-owned Ruffino has added Moscato d’Asti to its lineup. Available nationwide this month, the new varietal is priced at $15 a 750-ml. Ruffino’s entry into the fast-rising Moscato category—whose sales rose 73% in the year through January 7, according to Nielsen—follows the debut of Ruffino Prosecco last year. The new Moscato d’Asti joins a Ruffino portfolio that includes Riserva Ducale Oro, Il Superiore, Chianti Ruffino, Libaio Chardonnay and Rosatello, among others. Last October, Ruffino was purchased in full by Constellation Brands, which previously held a 49.9% stake in the Italian wine brand. Ruffino sells about 50% of its volume in the U.S., where it sold 648,000 nine-liter cases in 2010, according to Impact Databank.

•Beam Inc. has launched C by Courvoisier, a small-batch expression of its Courvoisier Cognac brand. Sourced from 50 winegrowers in the Fin Bois Cru, the new, 40%-abv entry undergoes a double-barrel aging process to achieve what Beam calls a “smooth, full-bodied taste…that is perfect for a night out with the guys.” C by Courvoisier is currently rolling out nationwide, priced at $34.99 a 750-ml. The launch follows the brand’s release of Courvoisier Rosé ($24.99), a lower-abv, female-targeted Cognac blended with French red wine grapes, last June. Last year, Courvoisier’s U.S. volume rose nearly 10% to approximately 420,000 cases, according to Impact Databank.

•The National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index (RPI), a monthly tracking survey that monitors the U.S. restaurant industry’s current status and future outlook, rose 1.6% to 102.2 in December, its highest level in nearly six years. Bolstered by favorable weather, increased same-store sales and strong guest traffic, December was only the third time the index has risen above 100 in the past four years. The December RPI showed increased same-store sales and customer traffic at 69% of surveyed restaurants, while just 18% reported weaker numbers. Some 51% of surveyed restaurant operators expect sales to rise over the next six months, while only 11% said they expect sales to decrease.

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