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

News Briefs for December 5, 2018

December 5, 2018

•After revealing its Whisky of the Year yesterday, Whisky Advocate magazine has now unveiled its full Top 20 Whiskies list for 2018. The 2018 Top 20 list features whiskies from around the globe, including Bourbon, American craft, Scotch, Irish, Japanese, and French offerings. Click hereto view the honor roll, complete with Whisky Advocate’s tasting notes and other info.

•Albert Frère, co-owner of Bordeaux’s famed Château Cheval-Blanc in St.-Emilion, died Dec. 3 at age 92. The Belgian billionaire was a co-investor with Bernard Arnault, chairman and CEO of LVMH, when they acquired the legendary estate in 1998. In addition to Cheval-Blanc, Arnault and Frère bought Château Quinault l’Enclos, also in St.-Emilion, in 2008. Wine Spectator has more on Frère’s life and career.

•Altria Group is reportedly in talks with cannabis producer Cronos Group over a potential investment in Canada’s newly legalized marijuana industry. Though details are scarce, Cronos Group confirmed to the Canadian press that talks were ongoing. Cronos Group runs the cannabis companies Peace Naturals Projects Inc. and Original BC Ltd. In November, Altria was linked to a potential deal with another cannabis company, Aphria, though nothing has come to fruition thus far. Meanwhile, Altria subsidiary Ste. Michelle Wine Estates has named Dan Werth as COO. Werth joins Ste. Michelle from MillerCoors where he served as chief customer officer. Longtime Ste. Michelle CEO Ted Baseler stepped down in October, and was succeeded by Jim Mortensen, a veteran of Philip Morris International.

•Italian sparkling wine brand Gancia, part of the Roust portfolio, has launched a new “drink beauty” campaign, targeting millennials. The brand has also refreshed its packaging, debuted new point-of-sale advertising and a print campaign, and relaunched its social media channels to spread the “drink beauty” messaging to consumers worldwide. Gancia markets a range of sparkling wines including a Prosecco, a Brachetto d’Acqui, an Asti, and others. Roust USA recently opened its own distribution offshoot in the New York market.

•Bacardi has released “The Angel’s Share,” a video highlighting the history of Bacardi rum that was co-directed by acclaimed actor Michael B. Jordan. Named for the portion of each barrel that evaporates during the aging process, the film offers three mythical explanations of the process from a Maestro de Ron, a bartender, and a Bacardi family member. First recognized for his role as Wallace in The Wire, Jordan has received widespread acclaim for his work with Ryan Coogler in Fruitvale Station, Creed, and Black Panther. Bacardi is the largest family-owned spirits company in the world.

•3 Badge Beverage Corporation has named Eric Timmerman as national sales manager for its spirits division, 3 Badge Mixology. Prior to this, Timmerman served as vice president of sales for AmBrabev, LLC, a Kentucky-based spirits importer. Founded in 2009, the Sonoma, California-based 3 Badge Mixology portfolio includes Uncle Val’s Gin, Kirk and Sweeney Rum, Pasote Tequila, and Bozal Mezcal, along with La Pivón Vermouth, introduced this fall. Kirk and Sweeney depleted an estimated 13,200 cases last year, up 28%, while Uncle Val’s rose 11% to 13,900 cases, according to Impact Databank.

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