Exclusive news and research on the wine, spirits and beer business

News Briefs for March 13, 2015

March 13, 2015

•Smirnoff vodka has inked a new multi-year sponsorship agreement with entertainment group Live Nation. The partnership will encompass 26 of Live Nation’s more than 50 music festivals worldwide, including events throughout the U.S., U.K., Germany, the Netherlands and Spain. Smirnoff will serve as the official vodka sponsor of each event, offering fan experiences aimed at consumer engagement, as well as creating social media content and on- and off-premise consumer promotions. The largest vodka brand in the U.S., Diageo-owned Smirnoff was down 1% to 9.7 million cases in 2014, according to Impact Databank.

•M.S. Walker has introduced West Cork Distillers’ Glory Irish Poitin into the U.S. market. Translating to “little pot,” Poitin is an Irish white spirit dating to the sixth century. Made from barley, beet sugar and spring water, West Cork Distillers’ version is produced in a classic copper pot still and is recommended to be served in cocktails, neat or on the rocks. Glory Irish Poitin will retail in the U.S. at around $25 a 750-ml. bottle.

•Miami-based L&B USA—co-owner of the Beso del Sol bag-in-box sangria brand—has appointed Stuart McGuire to the role of partner and vice president, national accounts. A 27-year veteran of the beverage industry, McGuire joins L&B from Walt Disney Co., where he most recently served as corporate beverage director. In addition to co-owning Beso del Sol alongside importer Arctic Beverage, L&B USA handles Enovation Brands’ Voga and Luna di Luna wines and M.S. Walker’s St. Elder liqueur, and also serves as broker for Imperial Brands’ Sobieski vodka and Kerrygold Irish cream liqueur brands.

•Coors Light is set to get a packaging makeover and new advertising campaign, Ad Age reports. With its new look, Coors Light will seek to play up its heritage as a “born in the Rockies” beer, while displaying its founding year of 1978. MillerCoors portfoliomate Miller Lite has seen marked benefits from a retro packaging move over the past year, although Coors Light’s pack changes will not be quite as dramatic. Meanwhile, Coors Light will see a new campaign featuring a bilingual storekeeper, which seeks to unite the brand’s message across both Spanish and English media.

•San Francisco-based importer Maritime Wine Trading Collective has been named the exclusive sales and marketing agent for Washington state’s J. Bookwalter Wines in the U.S. and Canada. Concurrently, Maritime has also forged a new joint venture with the winery’s Notebook brand, acquiring a 50% stake in the label, which is primarily a red blend. Based in Richland, Washington, J. Bookwalter produces around 30,000 cases annually, with Notebook accounting for roughly 10,000 cases. The winery’s other literary-inspired labels include its Couplet, Subplot, Foreshadow, Conflict and Protagonist entries. Part of the Bacchus Capital Management portfolio, Maritime also markets the Graham Beck, Jules Taylor, il Palagio, Mont-Ferrant, Bodega Benegas and Bonnet-Ponson Champagne brands, among others.

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