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

News Briefs for May 24, 2012

May 24, 2012

•Irish Distillers will relaunch its Yellow Spot Irish whiskey brand beginning in late May. It will be available online at The Whisky Exchange, priced at €65 ($82) for a 700-ml. bottle, as well as in stores in Ireland, France and Germany. Pernod Ricard expects to produce 500 cases of the 12-year-old Irish whiskey annually. The launch comes as part of Pernod’s goal of introducing new single pot still Irish whiskey expressions each year. The range already includes Redbreast, Green Spot, Powers John’s Lane and Midleton Barry Crockett Legacy. Only Redbreast has so far made landfall in the U.S.

•In what could be the granddaddy of all craft beer collaborations, at least 10 breweries founded in 1988 are planning a series of projects next year to mark their respective 25th anniversaries, Shanken News Daily has learned. While specific details of the program have yet to be revealed, representatives of the breweries met earlier this month during the Craft Brewers Conference in San Diego. Craft brewers said to be interested in participating in the collaborative effort include Goose Island, Brooklyn Brewery, Deschutes Brewery, Great Lakes, Rogue Ales, Anderson Valley, Gritty McDuff’s, Gordon Biersch, North Coast and Vermont Pub & Brewery.

•Missouri-based Major Brands, a top spirits and wine distributor that’s been expanding its beer wholesaling operations, has agreed to acquire Eagle Brands, Anheuser-Busch’s directly owned distributorship in Miami. The price wasn’t disclosed. The Eagle Brands deal comes a few months after Major Brands sold Western Beverage, an Oregon-based beer distributor, to A-B. Eagle and Western are said to do roughly the same amount of business in their respective markets.

•A new coupon-based technology called Mirth launched this week, competing with online daily-deal companies like Groupon. Mirth works by memorizing its users’ credit card numbers—which they provide when signing up on the Mirth website—and keeping track of users’ spending habits at certain businesses. If users pay by credit card at the same restaurant, café or shop more than once in a 30-day period, they receive a 3% discount each time they spend at that business in the future—but in order to maintain their “regular” status, users must continue to visit that business twice a month. Mirth informs business owners of their dedicated customers. Many merchants have complained that companies like Groupon encourage one-time customers only.

Beam Inc. is supporting its fast-growing Skinnygirl franchise with new TV ads under the tagline “Drink like a lady.” The campaign, which begins today, is across broadcast, print and digital mediums and reflects a tripling of Skinnygirl’s brand investment from the previous year, Beam said. Skinnygirl, which jumped more than fivefold to 585,000 cases last year, has now added Sangria, Piña Colada and White Peach Margarita cocktails, as well as a line of California wines and flavored vodkas.

•Casa Montalvo Holdings is debuting its upscale Montalvo Tequila brand in the U.S. beginning now in New York and California. Imported by MHW, Ltd., Montalvo is a 100%-agave Tequila available in Plata, Reposado and Añejo expressions ranging in price from $40-$55. An initial 20,000 cases will be available in the U.S., with capacity to increase production. Montalvo anticipates expanding into Nevada, Florida and Illinois this summer and then on to the Southwestern U.S. in the fall.

Southern Comfort is preparing a national rollout for its Bold Black Cherry flavor next month. Following Southern Comfort Lime in 2010 and Fiery Pepper last fall, Bold Black Cherry will sell for $17 a 750-ml. bottle. The new offering will be backed by national TV ads this summer on ESPN, TBS, FX and Comedy Central among others.

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