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News Briefs for July 24, 2017

July 24, 2017

•The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) is conducting an ongoing investigation into “pay to play” schemes in the Miami metro area. Speaking to SND, Tom Hogue, the agency’s director of congressional and public affairs, declined to name the parties in question, but said more information would be available in due course. The agency said in a statement that the initiative targeting so-called “slotting fees” for beverage alcohol is “the largest trade practice enforcement operation that TTB has initiated to date,” and is being conducted with agents from the Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco (ABT). “We’re very focused on ensuring that there is a level playing field,” said Hogue. “This should be seen as a clear indication of just how serious we are.”

•Jose Cuervo has posted a 17% sales increase to $431 million for the six months through June, with results boosted by foreign exchange and the addition of Bushmills Irish whiskey to the portfolio last year. Operating income grew 25% to $113 million. Cuervo’s sales growth came despite a 3.5% decline in volume to 7 million cases during the first half, which the group attributed to “lower volume of non-alcoholic Jose Cuervo Margarita Mix in USA, partially offset by the addition of Bushmills.” In the 24 weeks through June 11, U.S. volume of Cuervo’s namesake Tequila slipped 3% in IRI channels. In an initial public offering earlier this year, Cuervo, controlled by the Beckmann family, floated a 15% stake on the Mexican stock exchange, which garnered $980 million.

•Patrón has partnered with Oscar-nominated film director Guillermo del Toro to launch Patrón x Guillermo del Toro, a two-bottle limited edition pack. The special edition, which retails at $399, includes a 750-ml. bottle of extra añejo Tequila—aged more than five years in a combination of new and used oak barrels—along with a 100-ml. bottle of aged orange liqueur. The limited edition set, which features elaborate packaging designed by del Toro, is available nationwide in small quantities.

•Treasury Wine Estates has debuted an augmented reality app designed to tell the brand story of its fast-rising 19 Crimes label. Said to be the first of its kind in the wine industry, the app tells the tales of the three 18th-century convicts-turned-colonists that adorn 19 Crimes’ bottles—John O’Reilly (19 Crimes Red Blend), James Wilson (The Banished Dark Red Blend) and Jane Castings (Hard Chard). Through the app, consumers can hover a mobile device over 19 Crimes bottles to allow each of the convicts to recount the infamous deeds that landed them in exile in Australia. 19 Crimes ($12-$25) nearly doubled to 500,000 cases in the U.S. market last year.

•Ireland’s West Cork Distillers is launching two new single malt bottlings this fall under the Glengarriff Collection name. One label contains whiskey aged in casks charred with Irish peat and the other is aged in barrels made of Irish bog oak. They are both bottled at 43% abv and will be priced at about $45 a 750-ml. bottle. Allocations for the U.S. will be very limited. The West Cork Original, on the U.S. market since 2010, is priced at $25, and the company’s Black Reserve, made from double-charred Bourbon casks, is at $40. John O’Connell, a co-owner, says that by the end of this year West Cork will increase its distilling capacity to about 800,000 nine-liter cases annually. The company supplies both whiskey and gin to the Lidl grocery chain in Europe on a contract basis.

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