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News Briefs for July 19, 2022

July 19, 2022

•Longtime Breakthru Beverage executive Ed Callison passed away Monday morning at the age of 67 after a battle with cancer. Callison was a third-generation wholesaler whose family company, Callison Wholesale Liquor, joined Wirtz Beverage in 1993. He was integral to the founding of Breakthru and most recently served as EVP of corporate development. “I have been lucky to work with Ed for more than 30 years, and he truly was one of the best friends and colleagues I have ever known,” said co-chairman Rocky Wirtz. “Our Breakthru family is what it is due in part to Ed’s influence on our culture, and he will be deeply missed.” Co-chairman Charlie Merinoff added, “Ed was a wonderful man and an unbelievable asset to Breakthru. He was all about relationships—he didn’t just remember your name and your spouse’s name, but he cared to ask about your family, too. His character will be the marker of his legacy. I am proud to have known him.”

•Robert Mondavi Winery, part of the Constellation portfolio, has appointed Sally Johnson Blum as director of winemaking. Johnson Blum, who spent the previous 15 years with Pride Mountain Vineyards, joins Kurtis Ogasawara, senior winemaker, and Lauren Oliver, winemaker, on the Robert Mondavi Winery winemaking team. She will also work closely with the Robert Mondavi Winery Technical Council—including chief winemaker Geneviève Janssens, Thomas Rivers Brown and Andy Erickson—who provide strategic guidance on winemaking, viticulture, and other brand aspects.

•Beam Suntory, along with partner Edrington, have agreed to sell their Maxxium Russia joint venture business to the local management team. “After suspending shipments to Russia following the invasion of Ukraine in early March, we began reviewing approaches to the future of the Russia business,” Beam Suntory stated. “We determined that the best way to exit the market was through a sale of the Russia joint venture to the local management team, and we wish our respected former colleagues the best with the future direction of the company.” Beam Suntory added that shipments to Russia remain suspended “as we continue to abide by all applicable laws including international sanctions.”

•Hidden Barn Kentucky Straight Whiskey, a new collaboration between 5280 Whiskey Society and the Neeley Family Distillery in Sparta, Kentucky, has announced Small Batch #001. The 53% abv Bourbon was fermented using wild Kentucky yeast before aging between four and five years. After maturation, the final whiskey was blended from just seven barrels. This first release will be available in Kentucky, Colorado, Florida, and California for $75 a bottle, with further distribution planned for later this year. Former Old Forester master taster Jackie Zykan serves as master blender for Hidden Barn.

•Sonic Hard Seltzer has expanded its distribution, adding eight new states to create a total footprint of 39 markets. The new states—Alaska, California, Maryland, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin—will receive both Sonic’s Tropical and Citrus variety 12-packs. The Tropical pack contains Ocean Water, Melon Medley, Mango Guava, and Orange Pineapple flavored seltzers, while the Citrus has Cherry Limeade, Original Limeade, Classic Lemonade, and Lemon Berry. All of Sonic’s flavors are at 5% abv and 100 calories per can.

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