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

News Briefs for September 18, 2012

September 18, 2012

Heineken has redesigned its signature green bottle in the U.S. market for the first time since 1946. The revamped Star Bottle features a taller, thinner shape, designed to give it “a more modern and premium look,” as well as an embossed thumb groove for a better grip and to encourage consumers to hold the bottle lower, which Heineken says will keep the beer colder. The new bottle will be available in 12-ounce and 22-ounce sizes. It’s set to launch in select on-premise accounts in New York state this month, with a nationwide rollout slated for March 2013 in both the on-premise and off-premise. The brand’s U.S. volume was down 2.3% last year to 56.5 million cases, according to Impact Databank.

•Sobieski vodka celebrity endorser Bruce Willis is among those seeking to secure payment from Sobieski parent company Belvédère as it struggles under court-appointed administration in France. Willis teamed with Sobieski in 2009 in return for a 2.6% stake in Belvédère, which has debt of nearly $1 billion, partially stemming from its 2006 acquisition of Marie Brizard. If the value of Willis’s 2.6% stake fell below a certain level (which has now been reached), he was to receive a €20 million ($26m) payout. Belvédère—which posted a net loss of €54.8 million ($72m) on revenue of €911 million ($1.2 billion) last year—is now unable to fulfill that deal. Under a debt restructuring currently being presented to Belvédère’s creditors, reports the Wall Street Journal, Willis could opt either to receive a third of the payment now or spread the payout over seven years.

•Lucas Bols USA’s Bols genever brand has unveiled a holiday gift pack targeted at cocktail enthusiasts. Rolling out nationally (with the exception of New York) this month, the Bols Genever “Old Fashioned” Holiday Gift Pack includes a 750-ml. bottle of Bols genever, one cocktail spoon, a 50-ml. bottle of Bittermens Burlesque bitters and an Old Fashioned recipe card. The limited edition package is priced at $34.99.

Budweiser has named the three winning beers to be featured in its limited edition “Project 12” Sampler Pack. The three finalists, named for the zip code in which the beer was originally brewed, are Budweiser Batch No. 91406 lager (Los Angeles), 63118 pilsner (St. Louis) and 23185 lager (Williamsburg, Virginia). The 12-bottle sampler pack will be available beginning Oct. 29, featuring four bottles each of the winning brews. “Project 12” began earlier this spring when Budweiser’s 12 brewmasters across America were given the chance to create a unique brew. Six of the recipes were chosen to be brewed in small batches and then given a summer-long nationwide sampling effort where the brewmasters asked for consumer feedback to help select the final three.

•Gordon Ramsay is opening his third Las Vegas restaurant at Planet Hollywood Rose, though details have yet to be determined. The new restaurant will likely be a burger concept called GR Burger, according to Eater.com, with a contemporary menu, self-serve draft beers, specialty cocktails and a sports bar atmosphere. Ramsay’s other Las Vegas venues include Gordon Ramsay Steak at Paris Las Vegas and the forthcoming Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill at Caesars Palace, slated to open by the end of the year.


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