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Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum and The Aleethia Foundation have again joined forces in supporting wounded, injured and/or ill service members and their families through the early phases of the healing process at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

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Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum, named to honor the life and legacy of Norman ‘Sailor Jerry’ Collins, formed the creation of The Norman Collins Initiative at The Aleethia Foundation. The Foundation is designed to raise funds for Aleethia in its ongoing efforts to support wounded/injured/ill service members in their rehabilitation and healing process.

“Aleethia is excited about the expanded support through the Norman Collins Initiative,” stated Hal Koster, Executive Director of the Aleethia Foundation. “We are a volunteer organization that exists because wonderful organizations like Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum have shared our vision of support.”

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Posted by on in April 2018 Editions

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Wine’s Latest Format is Busting Out With New SKUs. But are Consumers On Board?

By Jeff Siegel 


What are you supposed to believe about canned wine? Are cans the next big thing, given that sales were up 52% last year—growth that far out-paced every other part of the category? Or are they the next Moscato—here and mostly gone, given that each massive sales increase is from a tiny, tiny base.

According to Nielsen, the market share for cans in 2017 was one-fifth that of 187ml bottles, and the airline-sized pour owns a grand total of 1.1% of the U.S. wine market. So, we are really talking about sliver of a fraction of the overall wine market.

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Posted by on in April 2018 Editions
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Roasting agave piñas at Del Maguey

On Tequila’s Tail, Mezcal is Inspiring Importers & Impressing Agave Enthusiasts

By Jack Robertiello


To many Americans, it’s still a niche product, a rustic rough-and-tumble relative of its now-sophisticated cousin. But recently, mezcal has started to shake off its lost weekend reputation, gathering numerous bartender fans and appearing more and more on craft cocktail lists. 

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Recent updates to Fell's Point have resulted in noted improvements in the landscape and overall atmosphere in one of Baltimore's oldest neighborhoods. With the variety of restaurants,  boutique shops, and historic buildings lining the streets, the neighborhood remains one of the most dominant attractions in the city, for tourism and economic development. And for good reason.

Shaped and founded by William Fell in 1730, the original municipality combined with Baltimore Town and Jones Town to form Baltimore City in 1797, forever solidifying the rich history of the neighborhood that still remains a crucial part of Baltimore City to this day.

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Whisky lovers are set to gather on April 17 in Washington, D.C., to sample some of the world's best whiskies.  The event is WhiskyFest. Presented by Whisky Advocate magazine, the festival is returning to the nation's capital for the third consecutive year, offering the chance for attendees to sample almost 300 whiskies from around the globe and attend seminars hosted by industry experts.

Among those attendees will be numerous bar, restaurant, and packaged-goods store operators. Whisky Advocate Executive Editor Jeffery Lindenmuth comments, "WhiskyFest is certainly a place for local whisky sellers to sample whiskies they are considering [serving/stocking] and to discover new ones. Attendees who taste a whisky and meet the distiller leave motivated to buy that bottle. In that way, whisky experience and whisky education boost whisky sales."

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Jameson, the industry leader in volume and recognition, is also at the forefront of innovation

 The Irish resurgence is looking more and more like a sustainable trend

 By Jeff Cioletti


Irish whiskey continues to be the big international growth story in the spirits space, with another year of double-digit gains for the U.S. market. And it’s become a force to be reckoned with, as the base it’s been growing from isn’t nearly as small as it used to be.

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There's really no other way to put it.  In December, the White House signed a historic tax bill into law that was absolutely loaded with "goodies" for the beer, wine, and spirits business.  A number of the Maryland-D.C. area's top beverage industry professionals weighed in on the changes, and their enthusiasm was obvious.

Jaime Windon, owner and co-founder of St. Michaels-based Lyon Distilling Co., declared during a recent interview with the Beverage Journal, "The tiered changes create a more competitive and equitable tax system, which significantly benefits smaller distilleries and every distillery in Maryland. Historically, the high federal excise tax rate on distilled spirits has been a huge barrier to growth. The largest tax savings apply to distilleries producing less than 100,000 gallons of spirits each year, indeed reducing the rate from $13.50 per proof gallon to $2.70 per proof gallon. To put that in perspective, in our first year [2012], Lyon made less than 1,000 gallons. In 2018, we plan to make 10,000 gallons. That represents a potential savings of $108,000 in federal excise tax under the new law."

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Apologies ahead of time to anyone I didn't get to talk to for this tribute feature on long-time Maryland beverage salesman James "Andy" Anderson.  I know I missed quite a few of you.  Because every time I would talk to a former co-worker, boss, or relative of his, that person would inevitably end the interview with, "Hey, did you also speak to so-and-so?  No?  Oh, you absolutely HAVE to get some quotes from him!  He knew him best!" Maybe that was Anderson's secret magic.  He made so many people in his professional and personal life feel like they knew him best.  Anderson died on Jan. 31 after a battle with cancer.  He was 75.  Anderson grew up in the College Park/Greenbelt area and graduated from High Point High School in 1960.  He first worked for the local telephone company as a lineman before getting involved in beverage sales.

He worked for Standard, retired from Reliable Churchill, then came out of retirement to sell for Prestige Beverage Group.  His work ethic was practically legendary.  But it was his ability to work with others and help them that really distinguished him.

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Posted by on in March 2018 Editions

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Thomas Jefferson, World War II soldiers, Hannibal Lecter: all appreciated a good Chianti. While Chianti has long been popular in the U.S.—Americans drink more than a quarter of Chianti’s annual production—it sometimes faces a Rodney Dangerfield-like lack of respect.

It’s their own fault. The question that Chianti has never settled on is whether it’s a brand, or a region. Many large producers push for the easy brand recognition to move cheaper, often rustic wine; more premium producers, particularly in Chianti Classico, argue for a terroir-based wine, as shown by the recent push to officially recognize the DOCG’s subzones. It’s a hard slog—getting lazy Americans to simply remember to say “Classico” is challenge enough—but many top producers are forging ahead.

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Cayce Kerr, Caddie to The PGA's Ernie Els, is Helping Retailers Make a Hole in One

As a caddie to such golfing greats as Fuzzy Zoeller, Fred Couples, and Ernie Els, Cayce Kerr has been all over the world.  But it's his foray into the beverage business that brought him back to his home state of Maryland this winter.

Together with PGA Professional Golfer Ernie Els, Kerr has launched Els Iced Coffee.   Available in three flavors: original, chocolate, and mint chocolate, the new line boasts its key ingredients as fresh cream from a dairy in Wisconsin, chocolate from Hershey Pennsylvania and … (wait for it) … alcohol.  In fact, Els Iced Coffee is the first such product available in this country with a 12.5 percent alcohol by volume (or ABV) content.  Kerr was back in the Old Line State to introduce the product and offer tastings at various locales.

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He had been raised in Clinton, Md., and held several jobs in the packaged goods and tavern businesses as a younger man.  "I worked at Branch Avenue Liquors," he recalled, "and I worked at Bar 51.  Bar 51 was on Suitland Parkway and Nailor Road, and I was the nighttime manager there making $7.50 an hour.  So, I got familiar with the beverage alcohol business at a young age, and I definitely got familiar with Maryland."

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The Churchill Bloody Mary at Howells & Hood in Chicago comes in a 20-oz goblet.

Led By The Famous & Flexible ‘Mary’, Savory Cocktails are Here to Stay

By Jack Robertiello


There’s no lack of savory in cocktailing. Gin’s tang of juniper, vermouth’s herbal zip, Sherry’s nutty astringency—all were important to many original cocktail whistle wetters. Vermouth and gin together gave us the sublime Martini, the drink’s crisp pungency the pure definition of savory.

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In a full biohazard suite, behind self-closing doors and working in potentially contaminated areas with some of the world's most deadly virus strains, Judy Neff found herself bored. But, leave it to beer to make life more interesting. 

Judy first moved to Baltimore to earn her PhD. at John's Hopkins in Microbiology, and a Post-Doctorate at the National Institute of Health studying influenza. After years working to help keep hospitals sterile and safe, she found a passion for the science behind brewing beer.

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With Interest Up but Knowledge Sparse, Retailers Keep it Simple When Promoting ‘Organic’

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Big Picture: Americans are buying more products perceived as healthy. Sales of organic foods in the U.S. doubled between 2008 and 2016, and organic milk now makes up 5% of the total milk market even though it costs double the price of conventional milk.

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Posted by on in February 2018 Editions

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M.S. Walker’s State of the Art New Facility Raises the Industry Bar

By Kristen Bieler


It’s only in hindsight, now that the company is fully operational in a shiny new bottling and production facility in Boston, that the M.S. Walker team can fully appreciate just how many challenges they faced operating out of their former space.

“We’ve always prided ourselves on producing great product and getting it to our customers accurately and on time,” says Gary Shaw, VP Sales. “Our fill rate has long been the best in class. And we did so while operating out of three separate locations—in a bottling facility that was inefficient and low-tech.”

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Posted by on in January 2018 Editions
Stranahan’s has a cultlike following for its annual Snowflake limited-edition; fans camp out and line up for a chance to buy two of the 1,400 bottles released the first weekend of December.

Stranahan’s has a cultlike following for its annual Snowflake limited-edition; fans camp out and line up for a chance to buy two of the 1,400 bottles released the first weekend of December.

With ‘Craft’ brands thriving, large suppliers are buying up—and empowering— small distillers 

By Jack Robertiello


Perhaps large spirit companies learned a lesson from how slowly major brewers responded to the growing interest in craft beer, but whatever the case, they have shown an increasing willingness to swoop in and grab small distillers who show promise.

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In various professions, the truly great ones become known by just one name or even nickname.  In the sports world, there's been Tiger, Peyton, and "Shaq."  In entertainment, there's been Beyonce, Cher, and Arnold.  In wine?  There's now Merf.

David "Merf" Merfeld is head winemaker for Northstar.  "The umbrella company is Ste. Michelle Wine Estates," he remarked.  "Northstar is one of a string of pearls.  It was created in 1994 to focus on ultra-premium wines, specifically Merlot.  It all starts in the vineyards.  We've been working closely with growers at specific sites where we source our fruit from since the '90s. That sets us apart."

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Posted by on in January 2018 Editions

Somms Serve Tips on Adjusting a Wine Program for Winter Months

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By Marika Vida and Patricia Savoie


Winter lurks in the shadows of shorter days, bringing cravings for hearty comfort foods to counter the chill. So, we turn to serious red wines, like Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Zinfandel, Malbec….

Yet there are many white wines that work brilliantly with winter fare: Consider Chardonnay (oaked or not), Pinot Blanc and Gris with their ripe melon and tropical notes, mouth-filling Viognier, spice-laden Gewürztraminer and perhaps the most ideal winter white of all, Riesling.

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I've been writing this annual Maryland state legislative preview article for five years in a row now.  And normally, this feature is filled with quotes of hope and a bit of apprehension for the year ahead from various figures in our industry.  This year, there is more apprehension than hope from members of the Maryland State Licensed Beverage Association (MSLBA).

Most of it is centered around Comptroller Peter Franchot's unveiling of a legislative package that would make sweeping changes to the state’s regulation of craft breweries.  Franchot’s 12-point "Reform on Tap Act of 2018" seeks to eliminate limits on sales from taprooms and for take-home consumption for the state’s breweries.  In addition, it would eliminate limits on beer production for breweries that faced caps and let localities set their own taproom hours.  The goal of the proposal is to do away with regulations Franchot says have stifled one of Maryland's most promising economic engines.

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By Jeremy M. Vaida

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Maryland’s Admissions and Amusement Tax is one of this state’s lesser known, yet most expensive business taxes.  Imposed on night club admissions, cover charges, karaoke nights and live entertainment, the tax is deceptively broad based.  Furthermore, the regime’s personal liability provisions permit the Comptroller to collect the tax directly from individuals, even if the company is organized as a corporation or LLC.  With record levels of enforcement these past few years, business owners and managers would be well-served to consult with tax counsel to insure they are properly complying with the law and to help them limit any potential exposure.

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Posted by on in December 2017 Editions

Spain's Answer to Prosecco and Champagne  |  Could a High-End Cava Wave Be On The Horizon?

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By now, the reputation of Cava in the U.S. is established as fresh, fun, lively and a great value. Yet there are plenty of people working hard at broadening the understanding of what Cava is and can be. While Prosecco, Cava’s Italian peer, has parlayed its similarly easy-to-drink bubbly style into explosive sales growth, the big picture for Cava is certainly on the upswing.

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Top Distillers Gather at Mount Vernon to Craft Anniversary George Washington Rye Whiskey

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Distillers from across the country recently fired up the stills at George Washington’s Distillery to collaborate on a special rye whiskey in honor of the 10th anniversary of the historic distillery’s reconstruction.

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For six weeks at the end of the year, your customers are looking for gifts. They’re making lists; and wine, with its current cultural cachet, checks off a lot of boxes. All the more reason not to overlook the obvious at this critical time of year. Optimizing your customers’ gift-giving experience can be as simple as double-checking aspects of signage, stocking and service.

Endcaps are your fast movers and sure shots—make them count. Keep them clean, well-stocked—and as inviting as possible. Consider the cases themselves; can you put suppliers’ graphics to work for you? What sort of POS material is available? Case cards, neck hangers, recipes? Will they complement or compete with your signage? Take advantage of endcaps’ visibility; signs and special pricing should be easy to read from a short distance.

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The good news is that the October fires in Napa and Sonoma didn’t do as much damage to the wineries, production facilities, and vineyards as feared. Save for a few hiccups in the supply chain, wine from these two regions is getting to restaurants and retailers and—tourism aside —business seems to be close to normal.

The bad news? It remains unclear, given that some fires were still burning towards the end of October, as to the extent of the damage. This includes smoke taint and burned-out vineyards in the two most important wine regions in the U.S.

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Well, that was…an interesting year. Now it’s time for all self-propelled pundits to prognosticate forward. Here are some of the wine and spirits developments we foresee making some more noise in 2018.

PINK IN PERPETUITY

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Next year marks the 75th anniversary of the Wine & Spirits Wholesaler Association (WSWA) Convention. Ahead of this milestone year, we sat down with WSWA’s President Craig Wolf, who weighed in on the changing dynamics in the direct shipping debate, the threat of private labels, and supporting women in the industry.

On The State of WSWA

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For years, people have either classified themselves as a "beer and burger" kind of person or a "wine and steak" guy or gal. But a newly opened concept at Arundel Mills Mall in Hanover, Md., is challenging those long-held generalizations. The Zinburger Wine & Burger Bar served its first customers on Oct. 17. Recently named to Full Service Restaurant Magazine's "Top 50 Emerging Restaurant Chains" because of its brand expansion and menu innovation, this marks the chain's first location in Maryland and 15th overall.

As the name suggests, the Zinburger Wine & Burger Bar offers cooked-to-order, gourmet burgers combined with perfectly paired wine selections. As with locations in Atlanta, Boca Raton, Durham, and elsewhere, the new eatery offers a full bar with a wine menu that includes 25 varieties; two dozen beers, including 16 on tap and several local and regional craft ales; and a cocktail menu. On Wednesdays, customers can enjoy half-price bottles of wine. And there are Happy Hour specials, weekdays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., featuring discount beer and cocktails and $5 Plain and Simple Burgers. That's in addition to the usual soft drinks and milkshakes.

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Posted by on in November 2017 Editions

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Text by W. R. Tish & Marlena Hoffman   ⊗   Photographs by Samuel Bristow


It’s November; You are already well on your way to having your store in shape for the holidays. Decisions regarding staffing, displays, floor plan, signage, publicity, social media and in-store tastings have been made or are in the works. And with the calendar ticking, big inventory decisions loom. Time to clear out and stock up.

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Posted by on in November 2017 Editions

The Most Rewarding Type of Champagne is also the Most Reliable & Plentiful

By Ed McCarthy


It has been a year now since Prosecco passed Champagne in sales volume in the U.S. Price is the biggest factor: the average Prosecco costs about $12 to $18; Non-Vintage Brut Champagnes sell for about three times as much.

But Champagne sales are not suffering. Au contraire, Champagne sales have increased gradually almost every year for 20 years—in the U.S. and internationally. The 2016 estimate is about 318 million bottles of Champagne sold, up from 312 million bottles in 2015 and 307 million bottles in 2014, despite the competition from Prosecco.

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In 2007, some didn't give much of a chance to Ranazul -- a then-new eatery in the then- new Maple Lawn mixed-use development near Fulton, Md.  First, there was the name.  Ranazul?  It sounded like an ancient demon the Ghostbusters might have once fought off to save Manhattan.  Then, people who didn't speak Spanish found out what the name meant.  Blue frog.  Blue frog?!  It didn't exactly have the same ring as, say, the Capital Grille.

Then, folks took notice of the full name.  Ranazul Tapas and Wine Bistro.  The place started coming together in the potentially hot location just off of Routes 216 and 29 in Howard County.  And, finally, Ranazul opened its doors, and customers were quickly wowed by the small plates menu and the outstanding selection of wine and cocktails.

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Garret Hadel personifies perseverance and shows optimism and drive in the face of adversity. Two years removed from an injury that would encourage most to change jobs or industries, Garret consistently shows why every hurdle serves as a step toward future success.

After studying graphics and print communications, Garret began working at Jimmy's Famous Seafood in June of 2012. He started bartending at tailgate events for Ravens and Orioles games, as well as other tailgate events, and has continued to do so for over three years now.

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Posted by on in November 2017 Editions

Points to consider when adding seasonal staff

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Each year, the news trumpets seasonal hiring—such as “Target to add 100,000 part-time employees for the holidays….” Which is all fine and good for a company that can afford to handle the holiday rush by throwing money at it.

But what if you’re a small wine, beer and spirits retailer facing the same sort of problem? It’s your busiest time of the year, too, but you don’t have massively deep pockets. It’s all about planning.

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Sandy Mazza is certainly excited about her new product, Sandy Bottom Sparkling Rum Cocktails.  Interviewing her recently, she would often start answers to my questions with, "Oooh, now please make sure you get this in the article!" and "This is one of the best things about Sandy Bottom, and I hope you can include it."  Well, we do have a word limit.  But the most important thing to make sure readers know is Mazza has come up with a product that Marylanders will want to drink and Maryland-based establishments will want to serve.

Sandy Bottom Sparking Rum Cocktails is a premium, pre-mixed, sparkling rum-based cocktail brand with natural flavors of coconut, lemonade, and lime. The company’s history is rooted in the nautical culture of the Chesapeake Bay. As an entrepreneur from the Annapolis area, Mazza would serve her homemade cocktails to friends while cruising the Bay.  Those closest to her loved it so much that they encouraged her to provide for a broader audience.

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Posted by on in October 2017 Editions

Word-Whisky

Scotch & Bourbon, While Still Strong, are Inspiring New World Distillers 

By Jeff Cioletti


If the past decade has taught us anything, it’s that consumers have a taste for whisky that’s not likely to disappear any time soon. Overall U.S. volume has settled into a stable pattern of year-on-year growth in the mid-to-high single digits; volume was up more than 4% and revenue was up 6.4% last year, according to the Distilled Spirits Council.

Most of the volume is still coming from countries that have historically been linked with whisky production, but distillers from non-traditional nations whose spirits have been coming into their own—“New World” whiskies, if you will—are banking on drinker curiosity and palate promiscuity to gain a foothold in the market.

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Most bartenders at Max's began their tenure over a decade ago, but not Tim Christofield. Although "Scooter" – as most people know him – recently started at Max's, he's no stranger to the beer world. Now, with a newfound home, he's taking the next step in his journey to becoming an industry influencer.

The obvious first question is how Scooter got his nickname, the story is simple and gives honest insight into the work ethic and passion he shows for his craft; he was quick. Quick to learn and quick to move … Tim scooted from table to table and was fast on his feet. The name fits for his next chapter as Scooter tries to continue "scooting" people over to learn and do more in the beer world. 

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Posted by on in October 2017 Editions

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Aiming to Stay Fresh & Competitive, Scotch is Awash in Innovation

By W. R. Tish


Scotch is looking and feeling more like the granddaddy of brown spirits these days. Naturally, those who craft the whisky—whether they be of the Highlands, Lowlands, Islay or Speyside—are not too keen on reinventing their spirit; but they are proving more than capable of re-framing Scotch for whisky enthusiasts: 

By tapping their existing reserves and putting on their creative caps, Scotland’s distillers and marketers continue to create “new” malts that they hope will sell at premium prices and solidify Scotch’s claim to reigning as King of Brown Spirits. Here is a look as some recent special releases from the magical land of Scotland:

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Posted by on in October 2017 Editions
MARTINI-NEGRONI

This October, Martini & Rossi is introducing their Riserva Speciale Bitter Liqueur, joining the recently launched vermouths Rubino and Ambrato. Potent in flavor but not ABV, amaros are ideal for creating lower-octane cocktails.

At home and behind the bar, spritzy and still, bitter amaros are being embraced 

By Jack Robertiello


Nothing illustrates the rise of amaros (aka amari, plural in Italian) in the U.S. better than the dramatic growth of Aperol. At the start of the decade, the carmine-hued, citrusy, lightly bitter brand had even less impact on the U.S. bar world than Campari, which at that time was languishing at about 50,000 cases, a far cry from its own heyday in the 1980s. Aperol was a junior partner in the team, an afterthought, really, until the emergence of the Aperol Sprtiz.

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Posted by on in October 2017 Editions

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Wolfenbüttel, Germany, once called Wulferisbuttle, claims home to one of the world's most famous spirits, Jägermeister. While most everyone in America has known its name since the 1970's, hardly anyone in the world knows its secret 56-ingredient recipe. Now, traveling the country in a mobile stage turned "Magic School Bus"/bar, David Summers (Manager of National Events) and the team at Jägermeister are giving new life to old favorites.

The History of the Master Hunter

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Over about two years Dr. Craig Stoner and David Baxter of Blackbird Spirits, LLC have used natural herbs to research and create a very unique distilled beverage.  Dr. Stoner's Fresh Herb Spirits began distribution earlier this year of Dr. Stoner's Fresh Herb Vodka and Dr. Stoner's Smoky Herb Whiskey. These distillates offer a one-of-a-kind, complex profile true to the herbal scent, and matching flavors to fit almost anywhere. The smooth and subtle profiles of the spirits make them intriguing, versatile and flavorful in a whole new way.

The Fresh Herb Vodka provides a piney hoppy herbal scent, and finishing tastes of natural citrus and fresh botanical essences. The Smoky Herb Whiskey offers a classic American whisky base with unique smoky herbal complexities. Herbs, grasses and hops all mix together with the warm nuances of coffee, caramel and cherry true to whiskey.

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Our military fight to have our flag flying high above free lands. Beverage entrepreneur Don Sessions fought to have the American flag on the bottles of his Ol' Glory-brand vodka, spiced rum, and five other spirits that are taking the Maryland-D.C. markets by storm thanks to a recent distribution deal with Atlantic Wine & Spirits.

The battle waged by Sessions, owner of an Oklahoma-based energy drink company, dates back to 2010 when the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau denied his request to design a can of beer with the flag and Pledge of Allegiance on it.  Sessions contended the design was protected by the First Amendment and decided to sue the agency for millions. Fox News caught wind of his crusade and put Sessions' story on TV.

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Posted by on in October 2017 Editions

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Country music duo Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard  … also known as Florida Georgia Line (FGL) are sharing their Old Camp Peach Pecan Whiskey with the Mid-Atlantic states.  “The ultimate drink to kick-start the party.”  The superstar duo were inspired to make their first whiskey by their own “camp” – a crew of longtime musicians, managers, technicians and friends – which ultimately led to the creation of Old Camp Peach Pecan Whiskey.

“We love to have a good time and we love whiskey, always have,” shared FGL’s Brian Kelley. “It’s a ritual we’ve had since our first shows, toasting and celebrating with our camp before taking the stage.”

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Posted by on in October 2017 Editions

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Baltimore Beer Week is celebrating all things beer for its 9th consecutive year in the land of pleasant living. “While every Baltimore Beer Week so far has been incredible,” explained Joe Gold, founder and organizing committee chair of Baltimore Beer Week, “this year is shaping up to be fantastic once again!”

This year’s Opening Tap Celebration will take place on Saturday October 14th and will again coincide with the Das Best Oktoberfest held at M&T Bank Stadium Parking Lot H.

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Posted by on in September 2017 Editions

New Partnership Between The University of Maryland and
Flying Dog Brewery Hopes to Grow High-Quality Hops in
The Old Line State

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The vast majority of hops in North America come from the Pacific Northwest, primarily the Yakima Valley.  Maryland is hoping to be the next great fertile region for these flowers, which are used inthe flavoring and production of beers and craft beers. To this end, Frederick-based Flying Dog Brewery has formed a partnership with the University of Maryland's College of Agriculture and Natural Resources to study the potential for high-quality hops grown in the Old Line State.

The partnership has launched a trial of two dozen varieties of hops planted at the Western Maryland Research and Education Center in Washington County. The first 12 varieties were planted after having been chosen from discussions with both industry and academic experts on what might perform well. The second 12 varieties were picked based on an informal poll of Maryland-based growers and brewers to establish what might be most marketable.

Hop_Butler.jpgBryan Butler, extension agent for the University of Maryland and the de facto point man on this project, remarks, "I've approached this in a very critical way.  I'm really only looking at this from the horticulture and test management side.  I'm not going to promote something that's going to cause people harm down the road in that they invest and lose money in something just because they think it'll be cool and fun.  We're in the business of providing growing information and then harvest handling information to give brewers a stable product."

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A lot has changed in the world of bartending since Beverage Media’s firat "Bartenders to Watch" feature more than a decade ago. First and foremost is the increasing awareness that professional bartending is a legitimate hospitality career choice, one with challenges and pitfalls as well as great opportunity.

Included in the profession’s evolution is the constantly raised bar of cocktail competitions, giving the industry a greater chance to help discover talent and highlight their achievements. Competitions like these have become an essential component in the timeline of bartenders looking to make a national name for themselves, advance their careers and potentially move from behind the bar into sought-after jobs such as brand ambassador. Today, simply holding down a shift and ringing high numbers on the register while creating a welcoming bar atmosphere isn’t enough; 21st century bartenders need to possess deep ingredient knowledge, a mental rolodex of historic and trending recipes, and if they plan to go far, presentation skills at media-trained levels...

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John Bates never considered himself a forefather of craft beer in Baltimore, but anyone who knew him knew he provided everyone in the industry with so much more. The kind, caring, passionate man lit up everywhere he went with his smile and helped bring craft beers to the taps around town.

On July 22nd, 2017 the world lost a wonder.  Not a single person who interacted with John forgets their conversations with the man who brought a lot of beer to Baltimore.

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Posted by on in September 2017 Editions

Bourbon: Seize the Month

by Jeff Cioletti

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Bourbon, which has settled nicely into the role of America’s native spirit, has history, style and brands with colorful back-stories. While its spiritual home is Kentucky, craft producers have spread bourbon about as wide, geographi-cally, as ever in history. At the same time, established distillers have dipped into their warehouses and conjured up sundry other ways to create new bottlings and limited editions.In short, it’s a great time to sell bourbon in general, and with September being National Bourbon Heritage Month, now is the time to encourage even more experimentation within this corn-driven, barrel-aged whiskey subcategory...

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Posted by on in September 2017 Editions

Association Spreads the Message of Israeli Wine Quality as a Baseline

By Jack Robertiello

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Whatever the situation and whatever the season, there’s a wine made in Israel that fits the message of the Israeli Wine Producers Asso-ciation’s (IWPA) American representative, Joshua Greenstein, who these days spends half his time out on the road visiting retailers and restaurateurs, persistently proselytizing about the merits of wines from the country.

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This month, Patrice Pinet, Master Blender at Courvoisier, took some time in the States to sit down and discuss the new ways they're staying ahead of the curve in the Cognac industry.

Courvoisier has a longstanding tradition of innovation over the past 200 years. As a brand, Courvoisier consistently tries to stay on top and learn new ways to maintain and even improve quality and continues to hold status as one of the best in the world.

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Alex Conyngham might not be a household name on this side of the Atlantic, but over in Ireland, the Earl of Mount Charles (as he’s known) and his family’s Slane Caste are synonymous with epic rock concerts and gorgeously groomed grounds.

Here in the states, Conyngham is hoping to make a name for himself and his family via a new venture: Slane Irish Whiskey. Thanks to a partnership with Brown-Forman, Conyngham is now stepping foot onto a different type of stage to perform in front of a completely new audience. 

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The bars, restaurants, businesses, and good people of Ellicott City, Md., are all looking forward to July 30 … and they are dreading it.  It was one year ago on that date when a summer storm dropped six inches of rain in two hours on the Howard County suburb, resulting in a flash flood
that caused major damage to the city's Historic District.  A state of emergency was declared, and it's taken many being highly involved this entire year to recover.

First and foremost, no one-year retrospective would be complete without first honoring the two people who lost their lives that night.  They were 38-year-old Joseph Anthony Blevins of Windsor Mill, Md., and 35-year-old Jessica Watsula of Lebanon, Pa.  Their bodies were found nearly two miles down the Patapsco River in Baltimore County.

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The completion of the merger between Miami-based Southern Wine & Spirits and Dallas-based Glazer’s Inc. last summer created the largest wholesaler in North America. One year later, the Southern Glazer’s National Leadership Team describes why bigger means better for both suppliers and customers.

Text by Kristen Bieler

Photographs by Andrew KIst


With operations in 44 states, Canada and the Virgin Islands, the 21,000-person Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits (SGWS) distributes more than 150 million cases of wine and spirits each year to approximately 370,000 customers for a revenue stream of about $18 billion. Which translates to over one-third of the wine and spirits market, by value.

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