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News Briefs for November 3, 2014

November 3, 2014

•Diageo-controlled United Spirits Ltd. (USL) has completed its $730 million sale of the Whyte & Mackay Scotch whisky business to the Philippines’ Emperador. USL says it will use funds from the divestiture to pay down £370 million ($592m) worth of debt from its acquisition of Whyte & Mackay in 2007. Emperador has agreed to supply USL with whisky for three years to meet its short- to medium-term needs. Part of the Alliance Global Group conglomerate controlled by billionaire Andrew Tan, Emperador is known for its sub-premium namesake brandy label, which has grown more than three-fold since 2010 and is now the third-largest spirit brand by volume worldwide (following Jinro soju and Ruang Khao Thai spirit) at 32 million cases, according to Impact Databank.

•This month, Brown-Forman will debut a new “Whiskey Row” series from Old Forester with an inaugural release called 1870 Original Batch, according to the Courier-Journal. The series, which commemorates Old Forester’s history on Louisville’s Main Street Whiskey Row district, will include four expressions of whiskey that are based on actual products and oral history. 1870 Original Batch, which will be available in select markets at $44.99 a 750-ml., celebrates the year Old Forester became the first batched Bourbon. Bourbons from barrels in three different warehouses were blended for a 90-proof product meant to reflect inconsistencies in the original’s formulation. The series, which will eventually be produced at Old Forester’s planned Whiskey Row distillery, will feature three more expressions based on whiskies produced through 1923, when the brand left Whiskey Row. Currently, 1870 Original Batch is produced at Brown-Forman’s Shively facility.

•L2O, one of Chicago’s top restaurants and noted for a stellar wine list, is closing at the end of the year, its owner, Lettuce Entertain You, announced. Opened in 2008 under Chef Laurent Gras, L2O won three stars from the Michelin Guide in 2010, but Gras left soon after winning the accolade and the restaurant was downgraded to one star before rebounding to two stars a year ago. Its wine list, overseen by Sommelier Aaron McManus, runs nearly 50 pages and surpasses 1,500 selections, topped by such rarities as a 1973 Krug Champagne at $4,600 and the 1959 Chateau Latour from Bordeaux at $7,000. Lettuce Entertain You chairman Rich Melman was quoted as saying that L2O, which specialized in seafood, “had never been a money maker for us.” The company will be left with only two fine-dining restaurants, Tru and Everest, in its portfolio after L2O closes.

•Shake Shack makes its first entry into Chicago with tomorrow’s opening of a location on Ohio Street in the city’s River North neighborhood. The chain has already lined up a second location on Michigan Avenue, which is expected to open early next year. In keeping with its tradition of sourcing local products, the company will be serving Chicago craft beers including Goose Island’s 312 Urban, Brickstone Brewery’s Cherry Ale and Revolution Brewing’s Anti-Hero IPA. Chicago’s Vienna Beef has been the hot dog of choice at all Shake Shacks since the first restaurant opened a decade ago in Manhattan. The new Chicago venue will be Shake Shack’s 58th location, and it’s now present in nine states. Shake Shack, which also has units in far-flung spots including Moscow and Dubai, is a division of Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group.


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