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News Briefs for October 14, 2013

October 14, 2013

Absolut has revealed the latest edition in its city-inspired vodka series, Absolut Chicago. The new entry is an olive and rosemary-flavored vodka geared toward Martinis, Bloody Marys and other cocktails. Absolut Chicago is packaged in a crowdsourced bottle design made in collaboration with the city’s Threadless organization, a community of more than 200,000 graphic designers and illustrators. The Chicago-themed vodka is the most recent release in a limited-edition series that has also included Absolut tributes to New Orleans, Brooklyn, Boston, Miami, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

•Brown-Forman has selected Publicis Groupe’s Fallon, Minneapolis to serve as agency-of-record for its Woodford Reserve Bourbon, reports Ad Age. Fallon will handle the creative duties for the brand, kicking off its first Woodford Reserve campaign in early 2014, while former agency-of-record Boxing Clever will be charged with overseeing sales promotion. Woodford Reserve, which was up 23% to 181,000 cases in 2012, according to Impact Databank, spent around $5 million in measured media last year, according to data from Kantar. Brown-Forman said that it could envision taking the brand to TV looking ahead.

Edrington Group single malt brand The Macallan has unveiled a new prestige Scotch whisky in the U.S. market, Macallan M. The luxury malt, retailing at $4,500 a bottle, is a non-age-stated, Oloroso Sherry cask-matured whisky. It’s packaged in a special case and bottled in an individually numbered Lalique crystal decanter, of which 1,750 are currently available globally. Macallan M was created to be the top expression in the malt’s luxury 1824 series.

Pernod Ricard’s Perrier-Jouët has released the latest vintage in its prestige cuvée Champagne range, Belle Epoque 2006. Aged for six years in the Perrier-Jouët cellars, Belle Epoque 2006 is comprised of 50% Chardonnay from Cramant, Avize and Chouilly and 45% Pinot Noir from Mailly, Verzy and Aÿ. Another 5% is comprised of Pinot Meunier from Dizy. According to Perrier-Jouët cellar master Hervé Deschamps, the grapes used in the 2006 vintage featured high potential alcohol levels, leading to lower-than-average acidity. Launched in September, Belle Epoque 2006 is priced at around $214 a bottle.

•A new line of “culinary” spirits is being introduced to the New York metro market this month through Empire Merchants. The Rave Review line of spirits includes 60-proof rum, brandy, blended Bourbon and blended hops entries retailing at $10 a 200-ml. bottle, with a 1-liter size available to the trade at $17.99. Additional flavors are planned for next year. The range was created in consultation with executive chefs, food scientists and other culinary experts to be ideal for culinary blending of flavors.

•Darden Restaurants is in the sights of an activist investor that has proposed separating its larger brands like Olive Garden and Red Lobster from its higher-growth concepts like Capital Grille and Seasons 52. The Wall Street Journal reported in recent days that New York-based Barington Capital Group, which holds a 2.8% stake in Darden, has met with company executives to discuss splitting the restaurant giant into two separate companies. Darden says it’s evaluating the proposal. Darden president and COO Drew Madsen is retiring from the company in the coming weeks, following a same-store sales decline of 3.3% across Darden’s three largest brands—Olive Garden, Red Lobster and LongHorn Steakhouse. Some analysts have suggested, however, that investors are also intent on seeing a change at Darden’s CEO post, held by Clarence Otis since 2004.

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