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News Briefs for June 2, 2015

June 2, 2015

•Looking to regain momentum behind Absolut vodka, Pernod Ricard plans to launch an oak-aged vodka under the brand this month, Reuters reports. Absolut Oak seeks to capitalize on the trend toward consumption of oak-aged brown spirits like whisk(e)y. The innovation play comes as Pernod Ricard USA has been trying to emphasize the higher-end Absolut Elyx offshoot in a bid to premiumize. Absolut, still the U.S. market’s top imported vodka brand, just ahead of Svedka, slipped 7% to 4.1 million cases last year, according to Impact Databank, and is down about half a million cases since 2012, amid tough competition from fast-rising Tito’s, among others. Meanwhile, Pernod says it’s increasing focus on Martell Cognac in the U.S., where the upscale brand currently has only a small presence.

•Napa-based The Hess Collection Winery has named former Treasury Wine Estates exec Nicole Carter chief marketing officer. In her new role, Carter will spearhead marketing efforts for the group’s California-based Hess Family Wine Estates brands, as well as for its Argentine wineries, Amalaya and Colomé, and Glen Carlou in South Africa. Carter, who spent two decades with Treasury, most recently served as TWE’s vice president, international marketing, charged with expanding the global reach of the company’s U.S. wineries.

•Beam Suntory is launching Sauza Tequila’s first flavor extension—Sauza Cucumber Chili Tequila. The new 70-proof offering retails carries a suggested retail price of $15.99 a 750-ml. Archrival Jose Cuervo is already active in the flavored segment, with Cinge, its cinnamon-flavored extension. After increasing its annual sales by nearly 20% over the past three years, Sauza is again the U.S. market’s second-leading Tequila brand, having regained the spot it ceded to Patrón several years ago.

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