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News Briefs for March 12, 2015

March 12, 2015

•Diageo is set to reintroduce the I.W. Harper Bourbon brand, which it stopped selling in the U.S. in the 1990s. I.W. Harper will relaunch this month in 4- and 15-year-old variants, which are a blend of whiskies from the New Bernheim Distillery in Louisville and other sources, the Associated Press reports. The 15-year-old variant, which will have more limited distribution than its younger counterpart, is 86 proof and has a mashbill that includes 86% corn and 6% rye. The new I.W. Harper 15-year-old will retail at around $75 a bottle, about twice as much as the more widely available 4-year-old, which contains 73% corn and is 82 proof. Diageo’s American whiskey stable also includes Bulleit, George Dickel and the Orphan Barrel series.

•Marchese de’ Frescobaldi is expanding its Gorgona Vineyards project, based on the Italian prison island of the same name. Frescobaldi recently signed a lease to extend the Gorgona initiative—which offers inmates on the island the opportunity to learn winegrowing techniques—for another 15 years. Gorgona Vineyards is expected to produce about 3,200 bottles of Ansonico and Vermentino varietals from the 2014 harvest, marking its third vintage. Frescobaldi has now added an extra hectare of vineyards to the project and intends to roughly double production to about 6,000 bottles looking ahead.

•Santa Cruz, California’s Venus Spirits has released its second gin entry, Venus Spirits Gin Blend No. 02. Made with a botanical blend featuring notes of orange, bay, cinnamon, vanilla, sage and fennel, Gin Blend No. 02 ($38 a bottle) is rested in American oak casks, giving the gin a golden hue. Gin Blend No. 02 joins Venus Spirits’ Gin Blend No. 01, as well as the distiller’s El Ladrón Blanco Blue Agave Spirit and Wayward Whiskey Single Malt labels. Established in 2013, Venus Spirits’ portfolio is currently distributed throughout Northern California—including Santa Cruz, Monterey and the Bay Area—by Southern Wine & Spirits.

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