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News Briefs for September 16, 2014

September 16, 2014

•Diageo has opened its new Bulleit Frontier Whiskey Experience visitors center at Louisville’s Stitzel-Weller Distillery—part of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail tour—and announced plans for further investment at the site, including the addition of a small batch craft still and finishing center. In recent weeks, Diageo revealed that it would be adding a new bottling line at Stitzel-Weller—to handle a range of American whiskies and Bourbons—marking the first bottling at the distillery in two decades. The bottling line is expected to be up and running later this year. Including today’s announcement, Diageo has invested $10 million at Stitzel-Weller this calendar year.

•U.S. wine exports rose 11% by value to $752 million and 15% by volume to 26.8 million cases over the first half of 2014, according to the Wine Institute. That performance follows on a record-high $1.55 billion in U.S. winery export revenues during 2013, with another increase—and a new record—expected for this year. California accounts for roughly 90% of U.S. wine exports.

•Investors behind upscale Angel’s Envy Bourbon have filed plans for a large warehouse project in the Louisville suburb of Shively, the Louisville Courier-Journal reports. An unused warehouse on the 10-acre site is slated to be renovated and expanded, and the company plans to add two new warehouses, one at 217,000 square feet and another at 231,000 square feet. The warehouses are expected to be used to age whiskey from Angel’s Envy’s planned $12 million, 500,000-case Louisville distillery, to be located on Main Street along the city’s “Urban Bourbon Trail,” which also includes small downtown distillery projects by Heaven Hill and Michter’s.

•Brown-Forman’s Southern Comfort liqueur brand has launched Gingerbread Spice, a new seasonal entry. Featuring a blend of gingerbread, vanilla and cinnamon notes, Southern Comfort Gingerbread Spice is intended to be served warm, either neat or in cocktails. The 15%-abv entry will be available nationwide through the holiday season, priced at $11.99 a 750-ml. Southern Comfort, which sells roughly two-thirds of its 1.8-million-case volume in the U.S., experienced a 7% decline in net sales during Brown-Forman’s first quarter, ended July 31.

•Global Cognac shipments declined markedly by volume and value in the year through June, with growth in the U.S. unable to offset continuing woes for the category in China. According to the Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BNIC), shipments fell 7% by volume to 156 million bottles in the 12 months through June, with value down 10% to €2.2 billion ($2.85b). A 19% slump in sales to the Far East—where shipment value amounted to €1 billion ($1.3b)—was blamed primarily on the ongoing government austerity drive in China. Cognac sales to Europe also declined, falling 12%, even as Eastern Europe posted volume progress. Meanwhile, shipments to North America—led by top Cognac export market the U.S., which accounted for 54 million bottles—delivered 6% growth by both volume and value.

•Bacardi Ltd. is launching new packaging for its Cazadores Tequila, seeking to underscore the brand’s heritage and “premium essence.” The new look includes a redesigned bottle and a cork closure, an embossed neck that notes Cazadores’ founding in 1922, and references to the Tequila’s 100%-agave recipe. The makeover spans Cazadores’ Blanco ($24.99), Reposado ($26.99), Anejo ($31.88) and Extra Anejo ($59.99) expressions, which are better differentiated under the repack with a bold new color scheme. Cazadores was up 4.5% globally last year to 525,000 cases, according to Impact Databank.

•Beam Suntory has debuted a new flavor extension to its Pinnacle vodka brand, CranApple. A blend of cranberries and green apples, the new entry is 70-proof, geared toward fall cocktails and retails at $12.99 a 750-ml. bottle in line with the core brand. Pinnacle’s U.S. volume rose 10% to 2.8 million cases last year, according to Impact Databank, and has doubled since 2010.

•California sparkling wine brand XXIV Karat is extending distribution to its home state through Southern Wine & Spirits, adding to a footprint that already included Arizona, Michigan, North Carolina and South Carolina. Karat Grande Cuvèe (11% abv) is available both on- and off-premise, retailing around $37, while Karat Rosè (12% abv) retails at about $42. The wines feature flakes of 24-karat gold in the liquid and an LED light that illuminates the bottle. Headquartered in Newport Beach, Karat blends its wines from multiple varietals and vintages from its vineyard in Mendocino and bottles its products in Lodi.

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