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News Briefs for February 6, 2012

February 6, 2012

Campari America (formerly Skyy Spirits) is set to roll out a Coconut extension to its Skyy Infusions flavored vodka line this spring. The new expression will be priced at $18.49 a 750-ml., $26.99 a 1.75-liter, $23.99 a 1-liter and $1.99 a 50-ml. Coconut joins a flavor portfolio that includes Dragon Fruit, Blood Orange, Pineapple, Ginger, Cherry, Grape, Citrus, Raspberry and Passion Fruit. Skyy vodka rose 1.5% to 2.7 million cases in the U.S. in 2011, according to Impact Databank. “I never thought we’d have 10 flavors,” Campari America chairman and CEO Gerry Ruvo recently told Shanken News Daily. “But it gives us the opportunity to play to different tastes across the country. So bars may not carry all 10, but they can pick out the three or four that really work for them in their market.”

•Real estate and financial services firm Fidelity National Financial, Inc., led by wine industry player Bill Foley, is set to acquire full control of Tennessee-based restaurant group O’Charley’s for $221 million. Fidelity, which already owns approximately 9.5% of O’Charley’s stock, has agreed to acquire all of the remaining shares for $9.85 per share—a premium of approximately 42% to the company’s closing February 3 stock price. Generating annual revenue of around $460 million, O’Charley’s operates or franchises 343 restaurants under three concepts: its flagship O’Charley’s brand, Ninety Nine Restaurant, and Stoney River Legendary Steaks. In the three months through December 25, 2011, its fiscal fourth quarter, the group reported a loss of $8.07 million, as revenue from company-owned restaurants fell 0.7% to $182 million.

The Wine Group’s Cupcake vodka brand has added Ginger Snap and Verry Berry to its line of flavors. Both extensions are now in nationwide distribution at $17.99 a 750-ml. Distilled six times, Ginger Snap has a cinnamon, ginger and clove taste profile, while Verry Berry offers raspberry, blueberry and blackberry flavors. The vodka brand, which was launched under The Wine Group’s Cupcake wine label last April with Original, Chiffon, Devil’s Food and Frosting extensions, depleted 100,000 nine-liter cases in 2011, according to Impact Databank.

•Lucas Bols USA has partnered with Baltimore-based Stillwater Artisanal Ales on a new craft beer meant to be served alongside Bols genever in a Dutch shot-and-beer tradition known as a “Kopstootje.” Stillwater Artisanal Kopstootje (literally translated as “little head butt”) is a 6.5%-abv Saison-style ale brewed with barley, wheat, rye, corn and spices in a recipe meant to complement Bols genever ($38 per 750-ml.). Stillwater Ales founder Brian Strumke and Lucas Bols USA managing director Tal Nadari are embarking on a seven-city tour of U.S. on-premise venues to introduce the Kopstootje concept and namesake ale.

•Diageo is unveiling a special John Walker & Sons Scotch whisky, The Diamond Jubilee, to commemorate the Queen of England’s accession 60 years ago. The Diamond Jubilee is a blend of rare malt and grain Scotch whiskies distilled in and maturing since 1952, created by Johnnie Walker master blender Jim Beveridge. Sixty decanters of the blend will be released at a price of £100,000 ($160,000) each. John Walker & Sons’ profits from the sale of these editions are being donated to the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust with a guaranteed amount of at least £1million ($1.6m).

•Whisky Advocate has named Amrut Two Continents (50%-abv, $100 a bottle) as its New World Whisky of the Year. Individual winners from the 18th annual installment of the Whisky Advocate Awards are being unveiled one day at a time through February 13 at WhiskyAdvocateBlog.com, and will also be featured in the magazine’s upcoming Spring edition, due out March 1.


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