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News Briefs for October 20, 2021

October 20, 2021

•Pernod Ricard is set acquire a minority stake in Mexican whisky brand Abasolo from Casa Lumbre, according to a report from Bloomberg. The deal follows a similar arrangement from last year when Pernod took a minority stake in Casa Lumbre’s Ojo de Tigre mezcal brand. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Made in Jilotepec de Molina Enríquez, Mexico, Abasolo is distilled from a 100% cacahuazintle corn mash that has undergone nixtamalization and aged in oak casks. It came to the U.S. in May 2020 with availability in seven states including New York, Texas, and California, at 43% abv and priced at $40 a 750-ml.

•Johnnie Walker has appointed Dr. Emma Walker as its new master blender, effective January 1. The appropriately named Walker takes over for Dr. Jim Beveridge OBE, who retires at the end of the year after more than 40 years at Diageo, 20 of them as master blender. Walker joined Diageo 13 years ago and has worked extensively on Johnnie Walker for the last six years. Her innovations include the Johnnie Walker Blue Label Ghost and Rare series and Jane Walker by Johnnie Walker. According to Impact Databank, Johnnie Walker is the largest-selling spirits brand worldwide in retail value terms, and the fourth-largest premium spirits brand by volume at more than 14.5 million cases in 2020. Its net sales increased 12% in Diageo’s fiscal year through June.

•Código 1530, known for Tequila, is entering the mezcal category. Its newcomers include an Ancestral Mezcal (43.1% abv) and an Artesanal Mezcal (42.2% abv), retailing at $180 and $65 respectively. The Ancestral expression is notable for the fact that no machines or automation are involved in its production, with the agave mashed by hand using a wooden stick, fermentation done in a leather vat, and the distillation taking place in clay pots, according to the company. The Artesanal offering includes wild tobalá agave and is rested in Sauvignon Blanc wine barrels. Both are available at retail and on Código 1530’s website.

•Leading Canadian cannabis producer Tilray has signed a distribution agreement with Great North Distributors, Southern Glazer’s Canadian cannabis affiliate. Great North will be the exclusive representative for Tilray’s complete portfolio of adult-use cannabis across all of Canada excluding Quebec. Great North will provide distribution for Tilray’s brands, which include Riff, Solei, and Broken Coast, among others, to place them in both provincial and private retailers, as well as leveraging its data analytics capabilities to provide insights to Tilray.

•Shoreham, Vermont’s WhistlePig has announced the eighth edition of the Boss Hog: LapuLapu’s Pacific. This edition is a 17-year-old rye whiskey aged in American oak before finishing twice in heavily toasted Philippine rum casks, with the first finishing cask previously holding 7-year-old rum and the second 10-year-old rum. The whiskey is bottled at barrel proof with bottles ranging from 52.4% to 53.3% abv. The Boss Hog VIII: LapuLapu’s Pacific is rolling out now in limited quantities to select retailers across the U.S. for a suggested price of $500 a 750-ml. Moët Hennessy has a minority stake in WhistlePig.

•Beam Suntory has released Bardstown Batch, the third bottling of Booker’s Bourbon for 2021. The release, named for the home of distiller Booker Noe, among other Beam family members, aged for six years and five months before bottling and comes in at 62.75% abv. Booker’s Bardstown Batch is now available in limited quantities across the U.S. for a suggested price of $90 a 750-ml. Last year, Booker’s was at 16,000 cases in the U.S., according to Impact Databank.

•375 Park Avenue Spirits has announced an expansion of its sales partnership with Canada’s Corby Spirit and Wine, taking on the Canadian company’s entire export portfolio, effective January 1. The deal will bring Lot No. 40 Canadian rye whisky, Pike Creek Canadian whisky, Gooderham & Worts Canadian whisky, and Ungava gin under the 375 Park umbrella, in addition to J.P. Wiser’s whisky, which 375 Park already handles. Corby’s corporate parent is Pernod Ricard, while 375 Park Avenue Spirits is under the Sazerac umbrella.

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