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News Briefs for February 17, 2015

February 17, 2015

•Fresh rumors of an AB InBev play for SABMiller surfaced over the weekend, after a report in the U.K.’s Mail on Sunday newspaper cited sources asserting that the AB InBev shareholders who control investment fund 3G Capital are seeking a way forward to a deal. Led by Brazilian billionaires Jorge Paulo Lemann, Carlos Alberto Sicupira and Marcel Herrmann Telles—all controlling shareholders and board members of AB InBev—3G has made a number of high-profile moves of late, acquiring Burger King in 2010 and Canada’s Tim Horton’s chain last year. The group also teamed with Warren Buffett to buy Heinz in 2013. Analysts have so far largely dismissed the idea of a 3G-led takeover of SABMiller, citing similar chatter in the market last year, which failed to produce the long-awaited merger of the world’s two biggest brewers. According to the Mail on Sunday, 3G is in the early stages of formulating a plan to bring such a deal to fruition.

•Pernod Ricard’s Jacob’s Creek is introducing a new range, Two Lands, available beginning next month exclusively in the U.S. Jacob Creek’s chief winemaker Bernard Hickin collaborated with acclaimed Napa winemaker Ehren Jordan on the range of four wines: a 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2014 Chardonnay, 2013 Shiraz and 2014 Pinot Grigio (all $13.99). Hickin, who has 35 years of winemaking experience in Barossa Valley, combined his knowledge of Australian varietal character with Jordan’s boutique California winemaking style on Two Lands, according to Pernod Ricard. “We like to call Two Lands a California expression of Australian wine,” Hickin says. Jacob’s Creek sells roughly 6 million cases annually in the global market.

Proximo Spirits is launching a new ultra-luxury Tequila under its 1800 brand. 1800 Colección (40% abv) is a double-distilled añejo Tequila that is aged in charred French oak barrels for more than three years. Retailing at $2,000 apiece, each bottle is hand-numbered. Proximo partnered with Los Angeles-based artist Gary Baseman to design a sculptured pewter decanter that comes with each bottle of Colección. The decanter, which took nearly three years to create, is titled Sirena Del Deseo (Mermaid of Desire) and depicts a Mexican folk tale about a warrior who perishes in the sea in pursuit of a mermaid. Only 40 bottles of Colección are being released to retailers across the country.

•New Jersey-based Niche Import Co. is adding a new rum brand, Mezan, to its import portfolio. The Caribbean-sourced Mezan will include a range of three rums—Mezan Jamaica XO and two vintage rums, Jamaica Long Pond 2000 and Panama Variella 2004—each of which are rolling out across the U.S. Each of Mezan’s offerings is unsweetened, uncolored and only lightly filtered. Mezan is part of the portfolio of Dutch beverage and hospitality group Marussia Beverages BV, which acquired Niche Import Co. on January 1.

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