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News Briefs for April 9, 2012

April 9, 2012

•Gardiner, New York-based craft distiller Tuthilltown Spirits is launching a new gin range into regional markets this spring. Unlike most traditional gins, which use a neutral spirit base flavored with botanicals, Tuthilltown’s Half Moon Gin lineup will use spirit bases made with local grains and fruits. The brand’s first launch is Half Moon Orchard Gin, which features a wheat and apple spirit base. Targeted primarily toward bartenders, the new offering is priced at around $35 a bottle, and will be followed by additional expressions. Half Moon Gin joins Tuthilltown’s Heart of the Hudson and Spirit of the Hudson vodkas. The company also produces the Hudson Whiskey range, which was acquired by William Grant & Sons in 2010.

•Pure Holdings’ super-premium Purus vodka is set to roll into four more states this spring, adding Illinois, Texas, North Carolina and New Mexico to a footprint that already covers Missouri, Arizona, Florida and Ohio. Made from 100% organic wheat, Purus ($36 a 750-ml.) was created as part of Anheuser-Busch’s Long Tail Libations spirits unit in 2007. When A-B was acquired by InBev in 2008, the Long Tail unit was divested. Purus is now owned by Missouri-based Pure Holdings, led by businessman Don Davis, along with A-B veterans John Giarrante and Mark Braeckel. In addition to expanding Purus, the company is also prepping for the launch of a super-premium pomegranate- and açai-flavored vodka, Pomaçai, of which about 10,000 cases were initially produced.

•The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) and the Brazilian Trade Ministry have signed an agreement to formally recognize each country’s native distilled spirits categories. Under the agreement, the U.S. government will initiate the process of recognizing Cachaça as a distinctive product of Brazil. Once that move is implemented, Brazil will begin its own process to recognize Bourbon and Tennessee Whiskey as distinctive products of the United States. U.S. whiskey exports to Brazil were up 519% from 2001 to 2011, growing from $517,000 to $3.2 million.

•Tilman Fertitta of Landry’s Restaurants has opened the first New York City outpost of his Vic & Anthony’s upscale steak house chain, joining locations in Houston, Atlantic City and Las Vegas. The Manhattan unit has opened in the former Angelo & Maxie’s space near Union Square and features a dining room, boardroom, ballroom and lounge.

•Ruby Tuesday has agreed to acquire fast-casual chain Lime Fresh Mexican Grill for a reported $24 million. Ruby Tuesday has been a master franchisee of the Lime Fresh brand since 2010 and currently operates four units. Under the acquisition, Ruby Tuesday will gain seven more Lime Fresh units, all intellectual property rights and the royalties of five franchised restaurants. The deal is expected to close in the coming months, during Ruby Tuesday’s fiscal 2012 fourth quarter. The company plans to open 20 new Fresh Lime locations in fiscal 2013 and 30 more in fiscal 2014.

•Boston Beer Co. has released variety six-pack Samuel Adams LongShot 2012. The LongShot beers are part of the company’s annual home brewing contest in which it distributes the winning beers across the U.S. market. This year’s winners include A Dark Night in Munich (Munich Dunkel-style crafted by Corey Martin of Texas) and Five Crown Imperial Stout (from Joe Formanek of Illinois), as well as Samuel Adams employee Fred Hessler’s Derf’s Secret Alt. The LongShot six-packs retail at $9.99 and include two beers each of the three winning brews.

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