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News Briefs for January 10, 2014

January 10, 2014

Glenmorangie has introduced the latest release in its upscale Private Edition series, Glenmorangie Companta. Companta, which is Scots Gaelic for “friendship,” is a 46%-abv non-chill filtered Scotch whisky that retails at $99 a bottle. Crafted by Glenmorangie master distiller Bill Lumsden, Companta’s wood profile includes maturation time in Grand Cru casks from Burgundy’s Clos de Tart and in sweet fortified wine casks from Côtes du Rhone. This latest offering marks the Highland distillery’s fifth annual release in its Private Edition Range, with predecessors including Glenmorangie Sonnalta PX, Finealta, Artein and Ealanta.

•Impact “Hot Brand” Woodchuck Hard Cider has released the latest entry in its limited edition Cellar Series. Currently rolling out at retail, Woodchuck Cellar Series Chocolate is a small-batch cider aged with crushed cacao beans, resulting in a blend of apple and chocolate flavors. The 6.9%-abv entry will be available nationwide through February, priced at around $4.99 a 22-ounce bottle. Chocolate marks the third expression in Woodchuck’s recently-launched Cellar Series, following the launches of Woodchuck Dry Hop in August and Woodchuck Smoked Apple in October. Woodchuck sells more than 2.5 million (2.25-gallon) cases annually in the U.S. It’s the flagship brand of the Vermont Hard Cider Co., acquired a year ago by Ireland’s C&C for $305 million.

•Chicago’s first-ever cider bar will open this spring, featuring more than 100 ciders on draft, cask and in bottles. The management team the city’s behind well-known craft beer and whisk(e)y bar Fountainhead and The Bar on Buena—a neighborhood bar with a highlighted beer selection—plans to open The Northman, which will be primarily focused on cider but also offer carefully selected beers, wines and spirits. Managing partner Aaron Zacharias sees potential for more market share among the cider community, including growers, producers and drinkers. Executive chef Cleetus Friedman will focus on sustainability and will design the menu to complement the ciders on tap and highlight the diverse selection.

•Tennessee-based restaurant operator Ruby Tuesday Inc. posted an 8% decline in revenue, to $276 million, in its fiscal second quarter, ended December 3, blaming the decrease on lower same-store sales at company-owned restaurants. Same-store sales at company-owned Ruby Tuesday locations fell 7.8% for the quarter, with domestic franchised locations down 5.3%. Meanwhile, the group says it will close 30 locations this year after a review of its restaurant real estate portfolio, with the majority of the closings coming in the third quarter. With a footprint mainly in the Southeast, Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Midwest, Ruby Tuesday currently operates 703 company-owned locations and 76 franchised locations of its namesake concept. Ruby Tuesday Inc. also owns 29 Lime Fresh restaurants, of which eight are franchised.

•Paul Chibe, who has handled Anheuser-Busch InBev’s U.S. marketing since 2011, is stepping down, Ad Age reports, citing a memo to distributors. Chibe, the brewer’s vice president-marketing for the U.S., will be replaced following the Super Bowl by Jorn Socquet, currently AB InBev’s vice president of marketing in Canada. The announcement comes as AB InBev continues to shoot ads for a new Bud Light campaign ahead of the Super Bowl, with Chibe leading that effort. Reviving Bud Light, the U.S. market’s leading beer brand, has been a key goal for the company during Chibe’s tenure. The brand depleted an estimated 37.6 million barrels in the U.S. in 2013, according to Impact Databank, down from 41 million in 2008, amid ongoing difficulties across the mainstream beer category.

•British entrepreneur Martin Miller, the driving force behind the Martin Miller’s gin brand, died on December 24. He was 67. Miller partnered with friends Andreas Versteegh and David Bromige in 1999 to create a new, upscale gin brand, using improved distilling techniques and water sourced from Iceland. The result was Martin Miller’s gin, widely recognized as one of the first super-premium entries in the category, which sells around 30,000 cases in the U.S. Along with Martin Miller’s gin, Miller was well known for his Miller’s Antiques Price Guide publication series, and for founding the Miller’s Academy of Arts and Science in London.

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