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

News Briefs for April 30, 2012

April 30, 2012

•U.S. control state spirits volume was up 4.4% in March, although the rolling 12-month rate, at 3.4%, was down slightly from February. Spirits’ price/mix effect in control states improved to 2.4% in March, however—from 1.8% in February—and shelf dollars rose 6.8%, with their rolling 12-month growth now at 5%. Irish whiskey (up 21%) and vodka (up 6%) continued to pace control state spirits growth in March. Control state wine volume was down 2.3% during the month, with the rolling 12-month rate slipping to 2.7% from 3.4% a month earlier.

•Single malt Scotch brand Speyburn ($28.99 for the 10-year-old variant) is getting a makeover aimed at extending its “significant” U.S. growth of late. The whisky’s revamped package emphasizes Scotland’s outdoor landscapes and lifestyle, and features a new fishing-inspired logo, referencing the distillery’s proximity to the River Spey in Scotland. A new “customer relationship management program” called Clan Speyburn has also been created, offering exclusive access to limited edition bottlings. International Beverage Holdings USA—a subsidiary of brand owner ThaiBev—handles Speyburn in the U.S. market.

•Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI) said its U.S. sales to retailers rose 1% in the first quarter of 2012—ahead of top competitor MillerCoors, whose sales slipped 1.6% over the same period. ABI benefited from a strong initial performance by Bud Light Platinum, calling the new higher-alcohol Bud Light offshoot “the most successful brand launch in the U.S. alcohol industry since 2005,” based on SymphonyIRI data showing it garnered a beer market share of 1.4% in the four weeks through April 1. Overall, the Bud Light brand family was up 4.7% in the U.S. in the first quarter. Portfoliomates Michelob Ultra and Stella Artois rose 7.2% and 22.5% respectively, while Budweiser was down 4.3%. Globally, ABI’s sales rose 6.2% to $9.3 billion, with Budweiser and Harbin in China; Antarctica, Brahma and Budweiser in Brazil; and Quilmes in Argentina among its top contributors.

•Boston Beer Co.’s Samuel Adams brand has launched its Barrel Room Collection, a new range of barrel-aged brews inspired by the Belgian practice of blending, aging and conditioning beers. The collection currently includes Samuel Adams New World (10%-abv), Samuel Adams Thirteenth Hour (9%-abv), Samuel Adams Stony Brook Red (9%-abv) and Samuel Adams American Kriek (7%-abv). Each expression is blended with different amounts of a unique ale called Kosmic Mother Funk—which is aged in Hungarian oak for up to 12 months—and then packaged in a 750-ml. cork-finished bottle, priced at $9.99 each. The Barrel Room Collection is available nationwide, with the exception of American Kriek, which will only be offered in the New England, Denver and New York markets.

•Colorado’s New Belgium Brewing Company has announced two new additions to its 2012 Lips of Faith series—Tart Lychee and The Lost Abbey Collaboration Brett Beer. Brewed with pale malt, caramel-80, carapils, malted wheat and oats, Tart Lychee is spiced with lychee fruit and cinnamon, resulting in a sweet and sour taste profile. Brett Beer, meanwhile, was created through a partnership between New Belgium and San Marcos, California-based The Lost Abbey brewery. Made with wild Belgian yeast brettanomyces, Brett Beer is brewed solely with pale malts and accompanied by Target, Centennial and Sorachi hops for a hint of citrus. Tart Lychee is currently available, while Brett Beer will roll out into select markets in mid-May. Both 7.5%-abv offerings are offered on draft and in 22-ounce bombers, with prices varying according to market.

William Grant & Sons has appointed Glenn Gordon as its new non-executive chairman. Gordon is replacing Peter Gordon, who has held the position for four years and will continue his participation on the board and its committees. Glenn is the great-great grandson of company founder William Grant as well as a former managing director of the company. Current board members at William Grant & Sons in addition to Glenn and Peter Gordon include Javier Ferran as vice chairman, Charles Gordon, Fergus Chamberlain, CEO Stella David, Robert Pollet, Iain Napier and CFO Dermid Strain.


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