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

News Briefs for March 13, 2012

March 13, 2012

Milagro Tequila is unveiling a new brand extension, Unico, a super-premium joven blend. Produced with a base of micro-distilled silver Tequila, the limited-edition, 40%-abv offering is blended with aged reserves and rested for 30 days before being filtered. The finished product is then packaged in a hand-blown glass bottle, which features Milagro’s signature “piña” (the heart of the agave plant) in the bottle’s center. Rolling out nationwide both on- and off-premise, only 1,200 bottles of Unico will be available, priced at $300 a 750-ml. Unico joins Milagro’s core Silver, Reposado and Añejo expressions, as well as the brand’s Select Barrel Reserve Silver, Reposado and Añejo. An Impact “Hot Prospect” marketed by William Grant & Sons USA, Milagro sells more than 113,000 cases annually in the U.S.

•Fort Collins, Colorado-based New Belgium Brewing is set to enter the Michigan market this August. The craft brewer has signed deals with 22 Michigan distributors, and will initially roll out 22-ounce bottles into the market, with draft and 12-ounce formats to follow. Michigan brings New Belgium’s total distribution footprint to 29 states and the District of Columbia. Led by its core Fat Tire Amber Ale label, New Belgium has an annual sales volume of more than 9.1 million (2.25-gallon) cases.

•MillerCoors is relaunching its MGD64 low-calorie beer brand this month as Miller64. The bottles and cans feature a new Miller64 logo and red and silver labels. The rollout is being supported with television, radio, digital and out-of-home advertising. The rebranding of Miller64 comes as part of MillerCoors’ recent revamp for several of its beer brands, including new packaging for the Miller Genuine Draft (MGD) brand that debuted in November and plans for a can redesign for Miller Lite this summer.

•Imperial Brands, known for its fast-rising Sobieski vodka brand, is introducing a new Marie Brizard liqueur offering, Chocolat Royal ($27.99 a 750-ml.), to the U.S. market. Made with real cocoa beans and featuring notes of vanilla and caramel, the liqueur claims to be the only super-premium dark chocolate liqueur on the market. Marie Brizard, like Imperial Brands, is a subsidiary of France’s Belvèdére S.A. The brand’s existing line includes Anisette, Green Mint, Orange, Peach and Raspberry liqueurs among others. Imperial Brands’ other labels include 4 Orange vodka, Dolgoruki vodka, Krolewska vodka and Krupnik Polish honey liqueur.

•Former Tennessee wine and spirits wholesaler John Hooper is launching a new company, BNA Wine Group, whose brands will include Butternut Chardonnay, Bandwagon Chardonnay, Bandwagon Pinot Noir, The Rule Cabernet Sauvignon and Volunteer Cabernet Sauvignon. All sourced from California, the wines range from $15-$30 a bottle at retail. BNA plans to produce 75,000 cases across the aforementioned brands this year, and other wines may follow. Hooper, who sold Tennessee Wine & Spirits to fellow Volunteer State wholesaler Lipman Brothers last year, will remain headquartered in Nashville. Little Lion Wine Co. founder Tony Leonardini is heading up winemaking and former Tennessee Wine & Spirits vice president Gary Carr is leading national sales for BNA.

•New York-based hospitality company The One Group has acquired the beach resort and nightclub space at the New Tropicana Las Vegas. The company is partnering with Remi Laba and Aymeric Clemente of the restaurant brand Bagatelle America to open Bagatelle Beach & Nightclub in the newly acquired space. By day, the venue will serve as a beach resort lounge offering Mediterranean dining, and at night will be a full-service nightclub. Renovations are slated to begin in late spring.

•Famed rock musician Gene Simmons has partnered with restaurateur Michael Zislis and concert promoter Dave Furano to open a new restaurant concept called Rock & Brews in El Segundo, California, on April 3. The family-friendly eatery will serve casual American cuisine and will offer more than 40 domestic and imported craft beers on tap, with hundreds more available by the bottle or can. Rock & Brews will have numerous televisions that will regularly screen music videos to create the feel of being back stage at a rock concert. Four additional Rock & Brews are slated to open in 2012, with further expansion planned for 2013 and beyond. Locations being considered for expansion include Los Angeles International Airport, Denver, Atlanta, Hawaii, Tokyo and Los Cabos, Mexico.

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