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

News Briefs for May 22, 2012

May 22, 2012

•U.S. control state spirits sales were flat in April, although rolling 12-month spirits volumes grew 3.5%—a slight improvement on March’s 3.4% increase. Spirits’ price/mix effect in control states was up just 0.9%, compared to 2.4% in March, and shelf dollars rose 1%, with their rolling 12-month growth now at 5.1%. Irish whiskey (+10.3%) continued its surge as the fastest-growing category, followed by vodka (+2.7%). April’s rolling 12-month wine volume growth, meanwhile, slowed to 2.3%, compared to March’s 2.7%.

MillerCoors is gearing up to release a new range of smaller-batch beers this summer. Although the brews will likely use craft beer-inspired marketing tactics, MillerCoors is positioning them as less expensive (under $8.99 a six-pack) and less complex alternatives to most craft offerings, geared toward consumers eager to branch out without making the price leap to the craft category. The first launch in the series will be Third Shift Amber Lager, which was created by experimenting MillerCoors brewers at the group’s Golden, Colorado brewery and is characterized as having a sweet malt profile with clean hop bitterness underlying. Third Shift will initially be available on draft in eight markets, before being released in beer or can format.

•Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse and Moët Hennessy’s Glenmorangie single malt Scotch brand have partnered to offer a nationwide five-course Father’s Day dinner pairing on June 10. Each course will be paired with an expression from the Glenmorangie range—including Glenmorangie 10-year-old, Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban 12-Year-Old and Glenmorangie Nectar D’or 12-Year-Old—as well as Moët & Chandon Champagne and Casa Lapostolle Cabernet Sauvignon (Lapostolle wines move from Moët Hennessy to Terlato July 1). The dinner will be offered at 57 Ruth’s Chris restaurants across the country, priced at around $110 per person.

•Starbucks is opening its first New York City “non-branded” unit—also referred to as a “stealth” store or “mercantile Starbucks”—on the second floor of the Macy’s Herald Square flagship, which is currently undergoing major renovations. The new non-branded café will have no visible signs of Starbucks ownership, offering products from local businesses rather than regional suppliers, and will serve beer and wine. Earlier this year, Starbucks began testing beer and wine sales in select markets—including Portland, Southern California and Atlanta—but there are currently no New York Starbucks units that offer beverage alcohol. The non-branded Starbucks is part of Macy’s Herald Square’s $400 million multi-year renovation project, which includes a new full-service restaurant among other improvements and is slated for completion in late 2015 or early 2016.

•New York City-based German restaurant and biergarten Loreley is debuting a Los Angeles outpost. Owner Michael Momm is taking over a former flower shop in West Hollywood for the project, will which include a bakery and a large outdoor patio for the biergarten. Details about the restaurant’s opening date have yet to be announced. Loreley debuted in Manhattan’s Lower East Side neighborhood in 2003 touting a menu of authentic German dishes and brews, as well as wine and cocktails, and has since opened a second location in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, in 2010.

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