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News Briefs for July 11, 2016

July 11, 2016

•Diageo-controlled Indian spirits group United Spirits Ltd. has alleged that its former chairman, Vijay Mallya, was involved with “improper transactions” that diverted funds from the company totaling $183 million. According to the Wall Street Journal, the suspected transactions occurred between October 2010 and July 2014 and involved “the diversion of funds to overseas and Indian entities that appear to be affiliated or associated with” Mallya. Diageo owns about 55% of USL, which leads India’s spirits market. After a protracted battle to gain control of the company, Diageo agreed to pay Mallya $75 million to resign as USL’s chairman earlier this year. Mallya, now in the U.K., resigned his seat in India’s parliament in May amid scrutiny by Indian regulators, who are investigating debts of over $1 billion owed by his now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines.

•Paul Hobbs Wines has upped its presence in the Sonoma Coast, acquiring the 42-acre Goldrock Ridge Vineyard for an undisclosed sum. Having sourced grapes from Goldrock for the past five years, Hobbs says the vineyard has the potential to become “one of the most revered and pedigreed sites for Pinot Noir in the United States.” Goldrock is planted to 38 acres of Pinot Noir and four acres of Chardonnay. Paul Hobbs’ other estates include Edward James, Ellen Lane, Katherine Lindsay and Ross Station in the Russian River Valley and Nathan Coombs in Napa Valley’s Coombsville sub-appellation.

•Bacardi Ltd. has joined forces with music impresario Swizz Beatz, naming the Grammy award-winning producer and performer the company’s global chief creative for culture, with oversight over the entire Bacardi brand portfolio. Bacardi and Beatz have collaborated before, with the artist playing a central role in Bacardi’s events at Art Basel 2015. In his new role, Beatz will continue to represent Bacardi at numerous events around the globe, with further details to be announced in the near future. “For Bacardi, having Swizz as a partner represents an opportunity to sell more than just bottles and cocktails,” says Bacardi Ltd. CEO Mike Dolan. “It represents a convergence of our brands in lifestyle and cultural experiences.”

•Campari America has rebranded its Appleton Special Jamaica and Appleton White rums, relaunching them under the group’s J. Wray Jamaica Rums brand as J. Wray Jamaica Rum Gold and Silver, respectively. While both 40%-abv rums will retain their original recipes and pricing ($17 a 750-ml.), Gold and Silver have been repackaged, with the new iterations currently rolling out across select U.S. markets. Campari America category marketing director, rum Christine Moll recently told SND that the change helps ensure that “Appleton Estate is viewed as a premium rum offering within the Campari America portfolio,” with J. Wray being positioned as the “standard rum set.” The Appleton brand, whose core lineup ranges from $22-$38, was up 6.8% to 220,000 cases in the U.S. last year, according to Impact Databank.

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