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

News Briefs for November 15, 2019

November 15, 2019

•Beam Suntory has unveiled Laphroaig 16-year-old, the newest member of the portfolio. The 48% abv whisky is matured in ex-Bourbon barrels, balancing the smoky punch of younger Laphroaig malts with sweetness drawn from the American oak barrels. Laphroaig 16-year-old is now available across the U.S. at a suggested price of $90 a bottle. The new label is a permanent addition to the portfolio. Last year, Laphroaig was up 2% to 73,000 cases in the U.S., according to Impact Databank.

•New York City-based Branca USA has launched Stravecchio Branca brandy, the first new release since the company established its wholly owned U.S. import unit at the beginning of the year. The 40% abv brandy is distilled from Trebbiano grapes and aged for over four years in oak casks. Before bottling, the brandy is finished in the “botte madre,” Branca’s massive mother barrel. Stravecchio Branca is now available across the U.S. for around $40 a 1-liter bottle. Branca USA’s largest brand is Fernet Branca, which was up 7.2% to 76,000 cases in the U.S. last year, according to Impact Databank.

•Breakthru Beverage has added Diageo-owned Seedlip non-alcoholic spirits to its lineup in the Illinois market. Effective today, Breakthru Illinois will represent Seedlip’s Garden 108, Grove 42, and Spice 94 offerings, which have no alcohol, sugar, calories, or allergens. Kevin O’Neil, Breakthru’s executive vice president for Diageo/Moët Hennessy brands, says the wholesaler is “devoted to building a strong, diverse portfolio to meet consumer demands,” with a recent Nielsen study showing that nearly half of U.S. consumers over 21—and two-thirds of millennials—are making a conscious effort to reduce their alcohol consumption.

•Campari Group has announced it’s in exclusive negotiations to acquire its current French distributor partner, Baron Philippe de Rothschild France Distribution S.A.S. The distribution house is currently 100% controlled by Baron Philippe de Rothschild SA, owner of Bordeaux classified growths Château Mouton Rothschild, Château Clerc Milon, and Château d’Armailhac, among other wine holdings. In addition to Campari brands, Baron Philippe de Rothschild France Distribution also handles Beam Suntory brands in the French market among a variety of other wine and spirits labels.

•Willamette Valley Vineyards posted net sales up 11% to $17.5 million for the nine months through September, representing the first three quarters of the company’s fiscal year. Income from operations slipped 7% to $2.4 million during the nine-month period, although it rose 31% in the most recent quarter. Willamette Valley Vineyards founder Jim Bernau said the Pinot Noir-focused company had a strong third quarter as it “recovered from problems executing distribution in Oregon and Washington in the second quarter.”

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