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News Briefs for June 26, 2012

June 26, 2012

William Grant & Sons USA has promoted Caspar MacRae to the newly created role of vice president, brand marketing, effective July 1. He will report to Jonathan Yusen, William Grant & Sons’ senior vice president of marketing–North America and general manager, Canada. MacRae joined William Grant & Sons in 2008 as category marketing director–Scotches. In 2011, MacRae assumed the role of innovation director, North America, overseeing the company’s Innovation Brands unit, including Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur, Hudson Whiskey, Monkey Shoulder, Gibson’s Finest, Art in the Age, and Reyka Vodka.

•Christie’s inaugural online-only auction series will debut with “Signature Cellars,” a 301-lot rare and fine wine sale. Running from August 6-20, the auction will require all browsing and bidding to be done online, with bidding registration open to all clients worldwide. Single-lot estimates start from as low as $200 to as high as $35,000, and the total “Signature Cellars” auction is estimated to total more than $750,000. Sale highlights will include one double magnum of 2001 Bandol La Tourtine (estimated at $250-$400), 12 bottles of 2000 Château Cheval-Blanc ($7,000-$10,000) and 12 bottles of 1982 Château Lafite-Rothschild ($35,000-$45,000). Christie’s online-only series follows the recent success of two pilot online sales held last fall and earlier this spring. In 2011, online bidders represented 29% of Christie’s total bidders for all global sales, according to the auction house.

Aveníu Brands has unveiled a new ready-to-drink pomegranate sangria brand, Pomagria. Made with fresh pomegranate juice blended with a maceration of wine and oranges, Pomagria (13% abv) will be in national distribution this summer, selling at $11.99 a bottle. Aveníu says it’s best served chilled or over ice with a wedge of orange. Other ready-to-drink sangrias on the market include Beam’s Skinnygirl, Luxco’s Yago and Shaw-Ross’s Real Sangria.

•Casa Noble Tequila is launching a new on-premise club network, Noble Places, in 15 cities across the U.S. In each city, a select number of on-premise venues will serve a custom Casa Noble cocktail especially created for the Noble Places club. The program debuts today in New York City, where participating venues include restaurants and bars like La Esquina, Teqa, Sinigual, The Box and Los Feliz, among others. To promote the program, the first consumers to visit Noble Places venues will receive a free song download by music artist and brand co-owner Carlos Santana. Casa Noble is a boutique brand specializing in ultra-premium organic Tequilas, including its Casa Noble Crystal, Reposado and Añejo expressions.

Campari America is introducing a Lone Star limited edition bottle of Skyy vodka beginning on July 4th. Dedicated to the state of Texas and giving Texans a chance to support U.S. service men and women, the Lone Star bottle will be priced at $18.49 a 750-ml. and be available only in retail stores in Texas. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Boot Campaign, a charity based in Texas that is dedicated to military appreciation and veteran issues awareness.

•Nashville, Tennessee-based J. Alexander’s Corp., owner of the 33-unit J. Alexander’s restaurant brand, has agreed to merge with American Blue Ribbon Holdings in a $72 million cash-and-stock buyout transaction with Fidelity National Financial Inc., owner of American Blue Ribbon Holdings. American Blue Ribbon Holdings operates Max & Erma’s, Village Inn, Bakers Square and Legendary Baking Brands. The buyout is expected to close during the fourth quarter, after which the combined restaurant companies will own and operate seven different brands in 43 states, with more than 700 units. Earlier this year, Fidelity National Financial acquired O’Charley’s Inc., including 213 O’Charley’s units, 105 Ninety Nine restaurants and 10 Stoney River restaurants.


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