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News Briefs for April 9, 2019

April 9, 2019

•A new ultra-aged series from Dewar’s, as well as WhistlePig Piggyback, several newcomers from Bruichladdich, and a widely available Bourbon from Kentucky Owl are among the whiskies profiled in Whisky Advocate’s latest roundup. The magazine’s website has all the details.

•U.S. wine exports dipped 4.8% to $1.47 billion on a volume decrease of 1.2% to 41.7 million cases last year, according to the Wine Institute. The decline was blamed on the strong U.S. dollar, rising competition, and the impact of retaliatory tariffs in key markets. Despite the slide last year, California—which accounts for 90% of total U.S. exports—has seen its exports expand by nearly 60% in value terms over the past decade. The E.U. ($469m), Canada ($449m), Hong Kong ($130m), Japan ($93m), and China ($59m) were the top export destinations for U.S. wines last year. While shipment value grew in Canada, Germany, and Sweden, it fell in the U.K., Japan, and China, with tariffs contributing to a 25% drop in the Chinese market.

•Federal prosecutors announced yesterday that 13 parents and one coach involved in the college admissions scam have agreed to plead guilty. Those parents include vintner Agustin Huneeus Jr., who recently stepped down from his position as CEO of Huneeus Vintners after he was arrested on March 12. Huneeus Jr., 53, is one of 33 parents accused of trying to get their children into some of the nation’s top universities through schemes of fraud and bribes. He was arrested in what the FBI dubbed “Operation Varsity Blues.” He stands accused of paying $50,000 to college counselor William Singer to have a proctor improve his daughter’s SAT score by correcting some of her answers. Wine Spectator has more.

•Chopin Imports Ltd. has added the Maguey Spirits range to its portfolio. Effective immediately, three labels from the Mexico-based Maguey will be available nationwide: Burrito Fiestero Mezcal ($50 a 750-ml.), a 42% abv, 100% Cenizo agave expression; Mezcal Gin ($60), which is made from both wild Cenizo agave and locally sourced, organic botanicals; and Señor Maguey ($30), a 100% organic agave nectar. The Chopin portfolio also includes its namesake Polish vodka, as well as Dorda liqueurs, Gordon & MacPhail and Benromach Scotch whiskies, Red Door Gin, Koch El Mezcal, and Terralta Tequila.

•MillerCoors is launching Cape Line, a collection of three canned sparkling cocktails. Available in the flavors Strawberry Lemonade, Blackberry Mojito, and Margarita, the RTD slim can beverages are at 4.5% abv and contain six ingredients—carbonated water, alcohol from a cane sugar base, sugar, and fruit juice flavorings. Cape Line will be available in variety 6- and 12-packs and dedicated Strawberry Lemonade 6-packs. MillerCoors plans to push the brand with a marketing campaign that includes commercials on 20 different television networks and sampling events at festivals like Austin City Limits in the fall.

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