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News Briefs for October 25, 2012

October 25, 2012

•Brown-Forman will release the latest extension to the Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection, Four Wood, in November. The limited edition release features Woodford Reserve Bourbon that has been aged in American Oak and finished in barrels made from Maple Wood, Sherry Wood and Port Wood. The 94.4-proof Bourbon will be released in 47 markets across the U.S. early next month, retailing at $99.99 a 750-ml. Each bottle is individually numbered. Four Wood is the seventh release to the Master’s Collection series, following Four Grain, Sonoma-Cutrer Finish, Sweet Mash, Seasoned Oak, Maple Wood Finish and Rare Rye Selection.

Ste. Michelle Wine Estates posted solid volume and revenue growth in the third quarter of 2012, leading to an impressive performance for the Woodinville, Washington-based wine producer (a subsidiary of tobacco giant Altria) for the first nine months of the year. Ste. Michelle’s third-quarter shipments rose by 3.7% over the year-earlier period, to 1.91 million cases, while its revenue increased by 6.1% to $140 million. Its biggest brand, Chateau Ste. Michelle, was especially strong, with shipments jumping by 16.4% to 704,000 cases during the three-month period—due largely to expansion in the off-premise. For the first nine months of 2012, the wine producer’s shipments and revenue were up by 4.0% and 9.2%, respectively.

Skyy vodka is rolling out a Blue Velvet Limited Edition bottle for the holidays. Targeting the gift-giving occasion, it features a blue velvet pattern on top of Skyy’s traditional cobalt blue bottle. The vodka brand partnered with the American Foundation for AIDS Research to launch the bottle design, sales of which will benefit the fight against AIDS. It will sell for a limited time at retailers nationwide for $18.49 a 750-ml. bottle. Skyy vodka’s volume increased by 1.5% to 2.7 million cases (including flavors) in the U.S. last year, according to Impact Databank.

•Total U.S. beer sales were up 2.9% year-to-date by volume (excluding RTDs and cider) through October 7 in SymphonyIRI channels. Craft beer (+11.7%) and imports (+6%) led growth, with Belgian beers (+31.7%) pacing the import segment while Canada and Germany (-9.9% each) suffered the biggest losses. IPA, the largest-selling craft style, was up 37.9% by volume, led by Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA (+59%) and New Belgium’s Ranger IPA (+39%). Super-premium priced domestic beers were up only because of Bud Light Platinum (new to 2012). Other fast-growing brands among the top 100 were Yuengling Light (+111%) and Bud Light Lime-a-Rita (new to 2012). Cider was up 70% while progressive adult beverages (malt-based RTDs) increased 11%.

•New York Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled a new state-sponsored marketing campaign for New York wine, beer, cider and spirits producers, as well as a series of regulatory reforms intended to reduce business costs, at a summit with suppliers from across the state in Albany yesterday. Cuomo announced $1 million in state support, plus $2 million in matching funds, for an advertising push touting New York’s 450 wineries, breweries, distilleries and cideries, which account for more than $22 billion in annual total economic impact in the state. Regulatory reforms introduced at the summit included: ending the prohibition against multiple manufacturing licenses (for different beverage types) at the same location, allowing beer and cider producers to obtain temporary permits to sell at special events and street fairs, reducing fees for suppliers’ marketing permits and reducing license application requirements for suppliers.

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