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News Briefs for October 2, 2013

October 2, 2013

•The government shutdown is starting to affect the beverage alcohol industry, with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau halting label approval and permits for new production facilities. The shutdown will at least temporarily snarl as many as 400 label approvals a day, and the large numbers of craft breweries and distilleries currently in the planning stages will have to wait longer for permits. The bureau said, however, that its website will continue to be available and drinks companies will “continue to be able to file electronic payments and returns for federal excise taxes and operational reports.”

•As part of its restructuring and sale to Ron Burkle’s Yucaipa Cos., Tesco’s Fresh & Easy grocery chain has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, citing debt of $500 million to $1 billion against assets of $100 million to $500 million. The proposed transaction would see a Tesco affiliate lend a Yucaipa affiliate $120 million toward the acquisition of 150 of Fresh & Easy’s 167 stores, with the remainder to be closed. Tesco would then retain a 22.5% stake in the Yucaipa unit that acquires Fresh & Easy. Yucaipa recently tapped former 7-Eleven CEO Jim Keyes to lead the revamped Fresh & Easy, with some reports suggesting the chain could be relaunched under Keyes’s defunct Wild Oats brand.

•Pewaukee, Wisconsin-based Midwest Custom Bottling, bottler of RumChata, is launching Holly Nog—a new spiked eggnog—in the U.S. this holiday season. Made with wine and Wisconsin dairy cream, Holly Nog (owned by Midwest Custom Bottling, while RumChata is owned by Agave Loco) will be available at both liquor stores and wine-only stores, as well as in the dairy aisle of grocery stores. The 14%-abv entry comes in 750-ml. bottles, priced at $9.99 each.

Jack Daniel’s is introducing a limited edition Master Distiller #1 bottle, honoring founder Jasper Newton “Jack” Daniel, nationwide this fall. The 750-ml. bottles, which were previously only available in Tennessee and duty free shops, are currently hitting shelves at retail locations across the U.S. ($24.99). Master Distiller #1 is the first in a new series recognizing the seven men who have held the master distiller post since the Jack Daniel Distillery began producing nearly 150 years ago. In addition to Jack Daniel, the list of master distillers includes Jess Motlow, Lem Tolley, Jess Gamble, Frank Bobo, Jimmy Bedford and Jeff Arnett (currently in the position).

•Serge Imports’ Exclusiv has debuted a new brandy-flavored vodka, XO Napoleon. The new expression will be priced at $10 a 750-ml. and will initially launch in New Jersey, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee. Exclusiv XO Napoleon (35% abv) uses 5- to 18-year-old brandies for flavoring and achieves the brandy coloring through the traditional French method of including caramelized sugar. XO Napoleon marks the brand’s tenth offering. Exclusiv, which is imported from Moldova, more than doubled its volume last year to 289,000 nine-liter cases, according to Impact Databank.

•Domaine Clarence Dillon has completed its acquisition of St. Emilion’s Chateau L’Arrosée, originally announced in June. L’Arrosée is being combined with Domaine Clarence Dillon’s existing Right Bank holding Chateau Quintus (formerly known as Château Tertre Daugay), which it neighbors. With the addition of L’Arrosée, Quintus now comprises 28 hectares (69 acres) of vines. Owned by the Dillon family and run by Prince Robert de Luxembourg, Domaine Clarence Dillon’s Bordeaux holdings also include the Left Bank’s Chateau Haut-Brion and La Mission Haut-Brion.

MillerCoors has named former PepsiCo exec Gannon Jones to the role of vice president-brand marketing, reports Advertising Age. Jones will report directly to MillerCoors CMO Andy England. Prior to joining MillerCoors, Jones most recently served as chief marketing officer for Pepsi’s global nutrition group, overseeing brands such as Quaker and Tropicana, and also held the vice president-marketing role within Pepsi’s Frito-Lay unit. He replaces Rick Gomez, who departed MillerCoors in March.

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