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News Briefs for February 26, 2016

February 26, 2016

•Rodney Williams has been named CMO and EVP, Brands, at Moët Hennessy North America. Williams was previously Moët Hennessy USA’s executive vice president, Spirits, and prior to that was senior vice president, Hennessy. Before joining Moët Hennessy, Williams held key positions with Jackson Family Wines and Constellation Brands. Jon Potter, who had been Moët Hennessy USA’s CMO and EVP, Brands, since 2012, has transitioned to become managing director of Chandon California.

•Diageo officially parted ways with Vijay Mallya yesterday, agreeing to pay the longtime United Spirits Ltd. chairman $75 million over five years to step down. Diageo, which took control of USL in 2014, had been trying to oust Mallya for nearly a year, claiming he had been using money from the company to fund other parts of his business empire. As part of the accord, Mallya has agreed to a five-year non-compete clause. While its sales have dipped in recent years after an impressive run of growth, USL remains India’s leading spirits marketer.

•Prestige Wine & Spirits, based in St. Paul, Minnesota, has added Champs de Provence rosé ($18-$20) to its import stable. Rolling out this spring, the Côtes de Provence rosé is made by Maison Denuzière in Condrieu, with a blend consisting of 40% Grenache, 30% Cinsault, 20% Syrah and 10% Carignan and Mourvedre. The Prestige Wine & Spirits portfolio also includes Italy’s Risata, Kinky liqueur and Glen Moray Scotch whisky.

•New Jersey-based Vision Wine & Spirits has been named the exclusive U.S. importer for German’s Reh Kendermann wines, as well as Douglas Laing & Co.’s Remarkable Regional Malts collection. The Reh Kendermann accord will see Vision take on brands like Black Tower and Carl Reh, retailing around the $9-$11 mark. Meanwhile, Vision will handle Laing whiskies including Timorous Beastie Highland Malt ($60 a 750-ml.), Scallywag Speyside Malt, Rock Oyster Island Malt and Big Peat Islay Malt (all $70).

•M.S. Walker has partnered with Celtic punk rockers The Pogues to launch a new Irish whiskey brand in the U.S. The Pogues Irish whiskey is produced by Co. Cork, Ireland’s West Cork Distillers and features a blend of 50% 10-year-old single malt Irish whiskey aged in Sherry casks and 50% 5- to 7-year-old Irish grain whiskey aged in Bourbon oak casks. The 40%-abv offering retails at around $40 a 750-ml. M.S. Walker also handles West Cork Distillers’ Original Classic Blend and 10-Year Single Malt Irish whiskies and Glory Irish Poitín in the U.S.

•Auction house Hart Davis Hart Wine Co. (HDH) grossed $6.3 million in its first sale of the year, held February 19-20 in Chicago. The auction, which was 100% sold, marked the house’s highest prices since 2014, with 54% of lots exceeding their high estimates. Burgundy netted $2.6 million against pre-sale estimates of $1.6-$2.4 million, and demand for first growths and “super seconds” boosted the Bordeaux index by 14%. Top-selling lots included 12 bottles of 1990 La Tâche Domaine de la Romanée-Conti that sold for $53,775 (est. $30,000-$45,000) and 12 bottles of 1982 Château Pétrus that sold for $41,825 (est. $26,000-$38,000), among others. Last year, HDH reported total sales of $41.48 million.

•Proximo Spirits has recently introduced a new Sparkling Paloma flavor under Jose Cuervo’s RTD Margarita range. Retailing at $7.99 a four-pack of 6.8-ounce cans, Cuervo’s Sparkling Paloma seeks to capitalize on the trend toward grapefruit-flavored offerings across the drinks market. Jose Cuervo’s canned Sparkling Palomas are 8% abv. Jose Cuervo Authentic Margaritas posted 20% growth to 1.3 million nine-liter cases in the U.S. last year, according to Impact Databank.

•Anheuser-Busch InBev is launching the second offering from its Best Damn Brewing Company, a hard Cherry Cola. Available nationwide starting next month, the new hard soda offering is aged on whole cherries, the company says. It joins Best Damn’s original release, a hard Root Beer, which debuted last December. Best Damn Cherry Cola (5.5% abv) will be available on draft, in six-packs of bottles and 16-ounce cans.

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