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Here you will find a chronological list of articles from The Beverage Journal, Inc. Feel free to tag, comment and share.

2021 Holiday Gift Guide


It seems the world is still in flux from COVID-19, but one constant remains: people are still buying beverage alcohol. This holiday season, make sure your shelves are stocked for the ultimate buying experience. The Beverage Media Holiday Gift Guide remains a staple resource for the industry to showcase a sample of value-added packs and gift boxes available this season. From whiskies to sparkling wine and everything in between, we've featured an array of products. Remember, availability and prices vary by market. Please check with your distributors.

Have a happy, healthy and prosperous holiday season! 

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Tips for the Holiday Selling Season


Retailers are gearing up for the year’s biggest months. Here are eight essential rules for reducing headaches and increasing profits 

By Christy Frank

Despite lingering pandemic concerns, persistent staff shortages, and supply chain woes, retailers are looking forward to a holiday season that could almost feel normal—at least compared to last year. 

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What Delivery Drivers Wish You Knew

Titus Laie, courtesy of Last Mile Hillebrand; Abbey Koenig, courtesy of T Elenteny Imports; Ovren Anderson, M.S. Walker; and Edward DeVito, courtesy of Martignetti

Titus Laie, courtesy of Last Mile Hillebrand; Abbey Koenig, courtesy of T Elenteny Imports; Ovren Anderson, M.S. Walker; and Edward DeVito, courtesy of Martignetti

Distributor drivers and warehouse managers from across the country share their tips for restaurants and retailers on how delivery logistics can run more efficiently

By Christy Frank

The truck drivers who deliver wine and spirits to shops and restaurants may clock hundreds of miles each week crisscrossing their state, or battle snarls of urban traffic (or both) while moving hundreds of cases each day. While many accounts see their delivery driver more often than their sales rep, these interactions are often taken for granted. 

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Building a Successful Wine Club

Leon & Son offers wine clubs in New York and Michigan. Photograph courtesy of Leon & Son

Leon & Son offers wine clubs in New York and Michigan. Photograph courtesy of Leon & Son

Independent retailers across the country share their tips for running a profitable subscription-based wine club

By Christy Frank

In addition to adding robust ecommerce platforms and enhanced delivery programs, retailers have found opportunity in creating subscription wine clubs. 

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The Quest for Heritage Grain Whiskey

Laws Whiskey uses only Colorado-grown grain. Photograph courtesy of Laws Whiskey House

Laws Whiskey uses only Colorado-grown grain. Photograph courtesy of Laws Whiskey House

From Tennessee, Texas, and Ireland, distillers in search of distinctive flavors are reviving near-extinct heirloom corn, wheat, and barley varieties

By Jack Robertiello

As a young man, Fugitives Spirits’ Jim Massey puzzled over why heirloom corn wasn’t being used to make whiskey. His father—head of the Tennessee Wine and Spirits Retailers Association—grew heirloom varieties such as Tennessee Red Cob and Bloody Butcher, and Massey long believed they had promising potential in distillation. “When you ate the different corns, they all had different flavors,” he explains. “So why wouldn’t the whiskey?”

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Cutting-Edge Sustainable Packaging

The Green Gen Bottle is made of woven flax fused with bio-resin. Photo courtesy of Green Gen Technologies

The Green Gen Bottle is made of woven flax fused with bio-resin. Photo courtesy of Green Gen Technologies

A new generation of products aims to shrink the beverage alcohol industry’s carbon footprint for a more sustainable future

By Betsy Andrews

As a drinks writer, I get sent a lot of bottles in a lot of packaging. Among recent deliveries: three mattress-thick, plastic-wrapped slabs of molded foam cushioning a single liter of boxed wine; a styrofoam shell made for three 750-milliliter bottles containing one half-bottle of vermouth; a heavy glass bottle of “sustainable” Malbec in a bed of styrofoam peanuts; and eight tiny, unbreakable Burgundy samplers in 20-milliliter plastic bottles nested in a shippable box that was itself swaddled in bubble wrap and tucked inside a much larger carton.

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The Financial Case for Organic

Chile's Emiliana produces one million cases of organic and biodynamic wine. Photograph courtesy of Emiliana.

Chile’s Emiliana produces one million cases of organic and biodynamic wine. Photograph courtesy of Emiliana

Vineyard longevity, higher quality, and consumer demand create a healthier bottom line for organically farmed wines

By Pam Strayer

From $4 Trader Joe’s organic wine to high-end Bordeaux, growers and vintners are seeing that organic farming costs are not the barrier they were once considered to be. More experience and know-how, improved materials, and new equipment have created better production methods that can make organic as financially profitable as farming conventionally. 

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The Future of the Sales Rep


Retail and restaurant purchasing may be normalizing, but the way buyers interact with importer and distributor reps has changed for good

By Scott Rosenbaum

In recent years, many importer and distributor sales representatives have begun to suspect that tired methods of selling wine and spirits needed to better adapt to the demands of the 21st century, but the past year has accelerated that shift.  

The subtle changes were almost imperceptible. After all, the end result was the same: a sale to a restaurant, bar, or retailer. 

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Cannabis vs. West Coast Wine


Cannabis cultivation creates resource competition and could threaten tourism in wine country—but some argue that proper regulation could benefit premier regions 

By Mark Stock

The West Coast wine industry can adapt—we’ve seen it do so in response to wildfires, drought, even a pandemic. But can it handle having a new crop for a neighbor?

Cannabis farms are on the rise in and around many appellations of wine-centric states like California and Oregon; according to BDS Analytics, a Boulder, Colorado-based cannabinoid research firm, legal cannabis sales in California increased by $586 million in 2020, and the Oregon market expanded by 39 percent. They’re the expected byproduct of recent legalization and a flourishing U.S. industry, one that totaled over $17.5 billion in 2020 alone—and that’s just the legal sector. 

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Vodka’s Neutral Days Are Over

Photographs courtesy of Crater Lake Spirits / Rootstock Spirits / American Liquor Company / Frankly Organic

The sluggish category sees new energy from innovative technologies and a craft-driven push towards terroir-expression, new ingredients, and an emphasis on flavor

By Brad Japhe

Vodka remains far and away the most consumed category of spirit in the United States. But although it accounts for one-third of all spirits sales (according to Nielsen)—with whiskey a distant second at 25 percent—vodka has been on a slow and steady decline for over a decade, according to data from IWSR Drinks Market Analysis. And it rarely enjoys the top-shelf placement of, say, craft gin or Japanese whisky.

Yet there are new signs of life in the category. Growth—and excitement—in the vodka space today are being fueled by craft-minded distilleries who are flipping the script on vodka. And their numbers are growing: In 2010 there were less than 400 craft vodka brands on American shelves; a decade later, there are over 1,500.

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Guide to Ecommerce Delivery and Shipping

Online shopping / ecommerce and retail sale concept : Shopping cart, delivery van, credit card, world globe logo on a laptop keyboard, depicts customers order things from retailer sites using internet

A primer on what small and medium-sized operators need to know about the fast-changing laws around taxes, shipping, and technology—and how to capture some of that business

By Christy Frank

Pick up any industry publication over the last year and you’re almost certain to read a story about the growth of online beverage alcohol sales during the pandemic. Some of the figures are mind boggling: Drizly reported increases of 350 percent year-on-year, ended their fiscal year up 115 percent, and IWSR reports an 80 percent increase in the value of ecommerce alcohol sales overall. 

This news makes it clear that customers are ready and willing to purchase wine and other alcoholic beverages online. Less clear is what retailers can do to meet this demand and get a piece of the action—while following federal, state, and local regulations.

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Craft Distillers Prepare for Growth

St. Augustine Distillery interior. Photograph courtesy of St. Augustine Distillery

St. Augustine Distillery interior. Photograph courtesy of St. Augustine Distillery

Permanent Federal Excise Tax reduction and loosening direct-to-consumer shipping laws breed optimism amidst ongoing challenges

By Jake Emen

After several rounds of temporary enactments, craft distillers have finally achieved permanent federal excise tax (FET) reduction with the passage of the Craft Beverage Modernization & Tax Reform Act in December 2020. This keeps in place the temporary reduction of FET on spirits from $13.50 to $2.70 per proof gallon on the first 100,000 proof gallons removed from bond annually—a boon for craft distillers, as 98 percent of craft distillers in the country produce less than this annually, according to the American Craft Spirits Association (ACSA).

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The New Apothecary

Wilderton Lustre. Photograph courtesy of Wilderton

Wilderton Lustre. Photograph courtesy of Wilderton

Contemporary gins and new spirits categories drive innovative explosion in botanical offerings.

By Jack Robertiello

In the beginning, there was gin. More than one type, of course—genever, Old Tom, sloe gin, and more—yet ultimately the dominant style became London Dry, a bracing botanical spirit, tangy, and juniper-led.
But at the turn of the last century, as spirit entrepreneurs crowded the market with new ideas, the range of botanicals exploded, and gin became a more wildly diverse category, particularly with the creation of the low- or no-juniper, citrusy New Western Dry style. Gin distillers further made their marks by introducing a cornucopia of ingredients—chamomile, lavender, tea, mint, ginger, and far beyond.

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The Celebrity Agave Obsession

Dwayne Johnson at Destileria Teremana. Photo courtesy of Destileria Teremana

Dwayne Johnson at Destileria Teremana. Photo courtesy of Destileria Teremana

There’s a gold rush in Mexico as a growing number of famous personalities launch tequila and mezcal brands—but which ones will have staying power?

By Jack Robertiello

When Keeping up with the Kardashians star and fashion mogul Kendall Jenner announced in February that she was the force behind 818 Tequila, social media exploded with accusations of cultural appropriation and then counterclaims of sexism.

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Alcohol Industry Gets Into Cannabis

Photograph Courtesy of istock.

As legalization increases, major beverage alcohol companies are investing in cannabis beverages. Could this help legitimize the category?

By Ryan Malkin

The tide is changing for cannabis in the U.S., and the beverage alcohol industry is noticing—and increasingly, getting in on the game. Cannabis sales in the U.S. are expected to reach $16.2 billion in 2021, with cannabis beverage sales comprising $1 billion of that, according to BDS Analytics. 

These blockbuster sales come as cannabis legalization becomes far more widespread; only three states—Idaho, Kansas, and Nebraska—lack some form of legal cannabis, according to the National Cannabis Industry Association. New Jersey and Arizona, among others, passed adult recreational use of cannabis this past November, and New York is poised to be next.

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Irish Whiskey’s Bold Flavor Revolution


A trend towards innovative cask finishes challenges the category’s light-bodied, easy-drinking reputation

By Amanda Schuster 

Irish whiskey is widely regarded as an accessible, beginner’s brown spirit for good reason: All are triple-distilled by law, and most of the classic expressions from prominent brands like Jameson’s, Bushmills, Powers and Tullamore DEW are matured in ex-bourbon American oak barrels for that familiar ultra-smooth texture and toasty flavor, and bottled at 40 percent ABV. 

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5 Tips for Alcohol Delivery Service

Perrine's Wine refridgerated delivery van, named Jean-Louis, serves as a brand-building tool as well. Photograph courtesy of Perrine's Wine

Perrine’s Wine refridgerated delivery van, named Jean-Louis, serves as a brand-building tool as well. Photograph courtesy of Perrine’s Wine

Retailers share best practices for delivering beer, wine, and spirits to homes across your state—where it’s legal

By Christy Frank

A robust delivery program can increase your shop’s revenue and expand its footprint beyond the customers that walk by your door. During times like these, when stay-at-home orders and general COVID-19 concerns may limit your customers’ ability and desire to walk in your door, it can become essential. In this ever-evolving pandemic landscape, many states have revised alcohol delivery restrictions in the past year to now allow liquor stores to deliver directly to homes, including Georgia (House Bill 879) and Ohio (House Bill 674), with Arkansas and Illinois poised to pass similar bills soon. It’s a new lifeline and operational reality for shops of all sizes.

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How Bars are Surviving the Pandemic

Clyde Common in Portland, Oregon, became Clyde Tavern, with sanitizer and partitioned ordering menus part of the new normal. Photograph courtesy of Jeffrey Morgenthaler.

Clyde Common in Portland, Oregon, became Clyde Tavern, with sanitizer and partitioned ordering menus part of the new normal. Photograph courtesy of Jeffrey Morgenthaler.

Bar owners from across the country share strategies for staying in business

By Chall Gray

Catastrophic may risk understatement as a summary of COVID-19’s impact on the bar industry. Like restaurants, many bars have shuttered permanently; in September, the National Restaurant Association forecasted 100,000 closures in 2020, and colder weather will doubtless bring many more permanent closures as further restrictions are placed on establishments, causing revenues to dip and expenses to pile up.

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Six Beer Trends to Watch in 2021

Solemn Oath in Illinois optimized its parking lot, turning it into a beer garden. Photo courtesy of Solemn Oath

Solemn Oath in Illinois optimized its parking lot, turning it into a beer garden. Photo courtesy of Solemn Oath

Breweries were forced to adapt in 2020. Which pivots are poised to become permanent fixtures on the brewing landscape?

By Joshua M. Bernstein

Confronted with shuttered taprooms and closed bars, restaurants, and stadiums, breweries made many devastating choices last year. Some were forced to dump draft beer or ship off IPAs and pilsners to distilleries that created hand sanitizer.

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10 Industry Leaders’ New Year’s Resolutions

Photograph by Olya Kobruseva from Pexels

Photograph by Olya Kobruseva from Pexels

Drinks professionals share their big goals, and how they plan to achieve them

By Rachel Tepper Paley

The year 2020 didn’t play out like any of us imagined. From the devastating physical and economic tolls of the pandemic to an overdue reckoning with diversity and inclusion in our industry, leaders across the drinks space are grappling with new realities and difficult choices. But from great adversity comes possibility. We spoke to 10 forward-thinking drinks professionals to learn their New Year’s resolutions for 2021 and how they plan to forge a more inclusive, equitable, and sustainable future.

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10 Holiday Buying Trends to Watch

Photograph courtesy of iStock.

Photograph courtesy of iStock.

From gifting to bubbles to ecommerce, Trade Pros prepare for an anything-but-normal season

By Courtney Schiessl

It’s difficult to make any definitive predictions about holiday sales across the beverage alcohol industry, particularly as the pandemic has affected different channels and product categories in disparate ways. In addition, liquor laws in various states are changing, which presents both new opportunities and challenges to operators. 

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2020 Holiday Gift Guide


2020.  What. A. Year. As if the tariffs  on European imports early on weren't enough, the wine and spirits industry had to deal with coronavirus, forest fires, and restaurant closures as well. But the calendar is wasting no time, and we as an industry are now entering the holiday season—which is reason to celebrate!

Along with the annual influx of holiday trimmings, the retail sector typically enjoys an injection of Value Added Packs (VAPs) to help guide customers with their gift-giving. Granted, this year’s “curbside pickup” culture may put a damper on retailers’ intent to create storefront displays. And some may plan to put the gift-boxed sets behind plexiglass this year, but overall the the array of holiday offerings for 2020 will not disappoint.

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United Malts of America

Readying barrels at Balcones Distilling in Waco, Texas. Photograph courtesy of Balcones Distilling

Readying barrels at Balcones Distilling in Waco, Texas. Photograph courtesy of Balcones Distilling

Distillers push for regional terroir expression—as well as a formal definition—in the burgeoning American Single Malt category

By Jack Robertiello

The young, fast-growing American single malt whiskey category is at a crossroads. For the past two decades, the curiosity factor surrounding American single malt buoyed producers as they ramped up production and fine-tuned the skill of distilling malted barley.

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Canned Cocktails Are Crushing It

Tip Top Photograph by Mia Yakel

Tip Top Photograph by Mia Yakel

How bartenders and craft distillers are revolutionizing the fast-growing RTD category with bar-quality cocktails in a can

By Alia Akkam

hen Tom Macy, a partner at Clover Club and Leyenda in Brooklyn, New York, created a bottled Paloma at Leyenda, he “discovered that it was better than the Paloma we made at the bar.” Intrigued, Macy sampled every ready-to-drink (RTD) product he could find and concluded: “We thought we could do it better.”

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Black Drinks Innovators to Watch

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Ten Rising Stars Charting Creative New Paths—and Pushing for Inclusivity—in the World of Wine, Beer, and Spirits

By Dorothy J. Gaiter

It has been a long time coming and progress is still slow and fitful, but Black people are having an increasing impact in the world of wine, beer, and spirits. Some have well-established reputations, such as André Mack, winemaker and owner of Maison Noir wines; legendary mixologist Franky Marshall, who has mentored countless Black spirits professionals; and Brooklyn Brewery’s supremely talented brewmaster, Garrett Oliver.

Beyond them, however, is a growing number of tough, imaginative Black men and women, less-widely known, who are determined to make a mark in their trade through hard work and creativity. And, as they pave new paths, they are  just as determined to find ways to raise up others. In this issue, we profile 10 professionals who are helping make the world of beverage alcohol a more delicious and inclusive place.

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Hone Your Hiring Skills



Experts weigh in on how to recruit top talent, avoid common hiring mistakes, and ask better interview questions 

By Hannah Wallace

People are the most essential asset to any business, yet hiring the right person for the right role is one of the most difficult skills to master. Even experienced recruiters say that hiring—part science, part art—requires years of experience, observation, and study to get it right.

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Struggle for Small Agave Producers

Photograph courtesy of Cascahuin

Photograph courtesy of Cascahuin

Largely dependent on American bars and restaurants, Mexico’s craft distillers face a fractured pipeline

By Ferron Salniker

Cascahuin Tequila is among the many boutique agave spirits championed by U.S. bartenders who have pushed the diversity of Mexico’s distillation traditions into the spotlight. 

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The New Can That’s Saving Breweries

Photograph courtesy of Crowler Nation

Photograph courtesy of Crowler Nation

Sales of tap beer to-go—canned on-site In ‘crowlers’—skyrocket amid shutdown and beyond

By Nickolaus Hines

Wild East Brewing Co. started brewing beer in Brooklyn in late December 2019. It distributed a small amount of beer to local shops through February while working toward opening a taproom in the late spring. And then New York City shut down.

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The On-Premise Pivot

Powered by to-go packaging, new signage, and a dose of social media, restaurants like Route 66 in Manhattan shifted gears to stay open after the dine-in shutdown. Photograph courtesy of Route 66

Powered by to-go packaging, new signage, and a dose of social media, restaurants like Route 66 in Manhattan shifted gears to stay open after the dine-in shutdown. Photograph courtesy of Route 66

Fine dining turns to takeout to save (some) jobs during the coronavirus shutdown

By Kathleen Willcox 

Forced into survival mode by the coronavirus pandemic, many restaurants and bars shuttered. Those that stayed open have had to drastically rework their businesses, many pivoting to takeout and delivery for the first time. Menus were scaled down and revamped, pricing was adjusted, and beverage service was completely reimagined.

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Restaurants Reeling

Beast PDX was among many that had hoped to open for take-out, but after weighing costs and benefits, chose to temporarily close. Photograph courtesy of Beast PDX

Beast PDX was among many that had hoped to open for take-out, but after weighing costs and benefits, chose to temporarily close. Photograph courtesy of Beast PDX

Slammed by unprecedented shutdowns, the restaurant industry braces for a hard-to-predict future

By Beverage Media Editors 

The two-week stretch from St. Patrick’s Day, 2020, to the end of the month, will surely be recorded as the biggest shock in restaurant history. Mandatory dine-in shut-downs in every state left millions of servers, dishwashers, line cooks, and bartenders suddenly jobless.

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Retail in the Coronavirus Era

Vine Wine in Brooklyn was among many retailers setting up new store protocol. Photograph courtesy of Vine Wine.

Vine Wine in Brooklyn was among many retailerssetting up new store protocol. Photograph courtesy of Vine Wine.

After seeing early sales spikes, merchants deal with shifting consumer behavior and regulations

By Courtney Schiessl 

The industrys one bright spot during the devastating coronavirus pandemic has been the recent weekssurges in wine, beer, and spirits off-premise sales across the country. Even as the on-premise sector shuttered and Americans were confined to their homes, consumers were very much drinking. For many alcohol retailers (deemed essential businesses in most states), business boomed as consumers stocked up on alcohol, alongside toilet paper and household disinfectants.

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Hard Seltzer’s Race to Differentiate

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Photos courtesy of Truly, White Claw and Barefoot Hard Seltzer

As brands proliferate, beer and wine companies push the category in new directions to gain a competitive edge

by Joshua M. Bernstein

This winter’s National Football League playoff season featured a different kind of Budweiser commercial: Randy Diaz, the fast-talking fictitious mayor of Seltzer, Pennsylvania, professing affection for Bud Light, as well as another beverage inside a slim, lanky can.

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Irish Whiskey’s Craft Boom

Why should Scotch have all the grand-finale fun? Egan's is among many Irish distillers finishing their whiskey in sherry casks; “Fortitude” ends up in PX sherry barrels.

Why should Scotch have all the grand-finale fun? Egan’s is among many Irish distillers finishing their whiskey in sherry casks; “Fortitude” ends up in PX sherry barrels.

No Other Whiskey Category has Exploded Quite Like Irish has this Century

By Amanda Schuster

Irish whiskey’s reputation as a mellow, one-dimensional spirit is being upended by an unprecedented amount of innovation and diverse new entrants. According to the Distilled Spirits Council (DISCUS), the high-end premium Irish whiskey category, representing SRP of $20 to $35, grew 1,106 percent between 2002 and 2018. And entries over $35 grew by a staggering 3,385 percent.

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Argentina’s Higher Ground

Matias Michelini's Passionate Wine vineyard. Photograph courtesy of Matias Michelini

Matias Michelini’s Passionate Wine vineyard. Photograph courtesy of Matias Michelini

Newly defined subregions in the high-elevation Uco Valley are producing some of the country’s most exciting wines 

By Kristen Bieler

We make mountain wines here,” says Sebastián Zuccardi, stating the obvious. He’s standing in front of the solid-stone winery he built two years ago in Uco Valley’s Altamira district at nearly 4,000 feet above sea level where his estate vineyards practically hug the snow-capped Andes Mountains. 

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Balancing The Back Bar

Raised by Wolves in San Diego has its back bar in the round.

Raised by Wolves in San Diego has its back bar in the round.

Making Difficult Inventory Decisions In An Era Of Rapid-Fire Releases

By Jack Robertiello

Consider the back bar. Part billboard, part shelving, this humble swath of bar architecture has become a battleground for a multiplying field of brands vying for a scant number of slots. “With back bar space being at a premium these days, it is very cutthroat when it comes to bringing in new product,” says Steve Walton, head of beverage at High West Saloon in Park City, Utah.

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When Counting Really Counts

Bay Grape in Oakland, California / Photo by Becca Wyant

Bay Grape in Oakland, California / Photo by Becca Wyant

Improving your physical inventory system saves money, headaches—and yes—even time.

By Christy Frank

Nobody opens a wine shop because they love to track inventory. But any successful retailer knows that routinely taking complete stock of your shop’s largest asset—that’s right, every single bottle—is essential to long-term success. Inventory is cash in liquid form, so closely monitoring it is key to identifying best- and worst-selling items, reordering efficiently, and spotting possible theft.

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Home Team Bubbles


American-Made Sparklers are also enjoying the bubbly wave

By W. Blake Gray

As stores prepare to stack up cases of sparkling wine for the holiday season, U.S. bubbly producers are rubbing their hands with glee.

Even without a competitive boost from the U.S.-E.U. trade war—sparkling wines are exempt from tariffs imposed in October—the market for U.S.-produced sparkling wine has never been better. Some of this is the rising tide of bubbles in general. Sales of all sparkling wines in the U.S. rose 5.6% by volume and 9.6% by value between 2014-2018. The U.S. now spends more money on sparkling wine than any other country—25% more than France, which is second—and is third in the world in consumption by volume, after Germany and Italy, according to IWSR Drinks Market Analysis.

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Single Malt Scotch Keeps Pace


Single Malt Scotch Distillers Keep Pace with Whiskey Boom

By Jack Robertiello

When a city like Edinburgh, once a center of whiskey-making, gets its first distillery in 100 years, you’d think it would make some noise across the pond. But like with the opening and restoring of other distilleries in Scotland in the past few years, the news of Holyrood Distillery goes mostly unnoticed.

Meanwhile there is a host of new malt facilities blooming in Scotland, which now boasts about 120 distilleries in operation. Some, like the expanded and recreated Macallan, are well-known, while others­­—the ninth malt distillery on Islay, called Ardnahoe, Ardgowan in Inverness, Lagg on Arran—are among many which have opened in the past few years without the American market noticing, probably because it will be some time for the whiskies to make it here.

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Vodka: All-American Spirit… Or Nyet?

Tito’s Handmade continues to be a market leader and the centerpiece of Texas’s burgeoning vodka scene.

Tito’s Handmade continues to be a market leader and the centerpiece of Texas’s burgeoning vodka scene.

By Jack Robertiello

When Burnett’s, a top ten vodka brand with dozens of flavored versions, underwent a redesign last year, those in charge of the brand decided it was time to proclaim front and center: “Made in America.”

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Botanicals Without Borders


Hendrick’s Gin, widely credited with opening new botanical frontiers in the 1990s, released not one but two extensions this year, Orbium and Midsummer Solstice.

By Jeff Cioletti

Ever since it emerged on the scene more than three centuries ago, gin, for all intents and purposes, has been identified as a quintessentially British spirit—or, at the very least, British by way of Dutch, thanks to the influence of the latter’s genever on the former’s iteration.

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Cannabis: Friend or Foe to Alcohol?



Know this much to start: the United States is embarking on its greatest decriminalization effort since the end of Prohibition. Until the federal government gives its legal green light to cannabis, a confusing and difficult transition will remain difficult and confusing. But the states-rights pattern has been established, and while no one can (yet) say for certain what will happen in regards to beer, wine, and spirits consumption, cannabis is entering the Conversation faster than you can say “don’t bogart that joint.”

“My friends in Colorado, Washington and Oregon are quite candid about potential lost sales, but most are sanguine about the future,” says Kansas City’s Doug Frost, MW, MS. “It’s tremendously challenging because no one knows how the next steps unfold, other than that every state will want a piece of the cannabis tax pie. Regardless, the genie ain’t going back in the bottle.”

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Irish Eye's Reasons to Smile


Irish Whiskey keeps growing—in size, selection and value

With all the new distilleries, brands and line extensions emerging from Ireland, whiskey retailers have an unprecedented array of choices that show no sign of narrowing. Accordingly, the proverbial Irish eyes are still smilling broadly at this vibrant sector. Powered by Irish whiskey’s inherently smooth style and the swelling popularity centered on a handful of powerful, widely available brands, the category is not just small and mighty—it is expanding dramatically in breadth.

Take two recent additions stretching what Irish whiskey can be: Dingle and The Sexton. Dingle produces distinct small-batch single malt releases—the third finished in ex-bourbon and Port barrels. The Sexton arrives as an especially young (four years old) malt whiskey meant for category novices and cocktail makers.

After decades of relying on the light and fruity blended triple-distilled spirit that predominates, Irish styles are exploding. Single malts and pure pot still expressions, of course, but also grain whiskey, double distilled variants, peated malts and extended aging and finishing in non-traditional barrels—rum, marsala, or exotic woods like acacia. There’s even an Irish rye now. 

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Smart Short-Cuts


Bar Biz: Some save time, some add flair… 
little things can really elevate a bar’s game

While most of the attention in Cocktail World lands on bars and restaurants pushing the limits or carving out narrow niches, the vast majority of operations that serve drinks have a myriad of concerns beyond drink-making. Given that and increased customer knowledge and expectations, what is the average bar and restaurant to do to up their cocktail game?

If you ask  consultant and author Kim Haasarud of Liquid Architecture (pictured), for clients that are relatively new to craft cocktails, keeping it simple but better is the right approach.

“Those simple, three-ingredient cocktails are really in fashion right now and there are so many really good spirits out there. You can make some pretty great drinks using simple ingredients,” she says. Drinks like Manhattans and Old Fashioneds score very high on most drink menu surveys, she notes, and any number of tweaks—adding a dash of Chartreuse to a Margarita, or an amaro to spice up a Whiskey Sour, or using split bases, like bourbon with Cognac or tequila with mezcal—can smartly customize standard recipes.

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Hunter Douglas of Hank's in DC


Hunter Douglas is the bar manager at Hank’s Oyster Bar Dupont Circle and just-opened Hank’s Cocktail Bar, part of the Washington, D.C.-based Jamie Leeds Restaurant Group.

Beverage Journal: How does Hank’s Cocktail Bar, an industry hangout that originated in Petworth and is soon to re-open in Dupont Circle, differ from the oyster bar, where guests eat lobster deviled eggs and sip libations like the I Dream of Pralines (pecan-cinnamon-infused bourbon, Licor 43, burnt sugar, ginger/orange bitters)?

Hunter Douglas: Hank’s Cocktail Bar is our playground and a space to dive into some of the District’s most exciting beverages, but both concepts share the philosophy of JL Restaurant Group by featuring the use of fresh produce and seasonal ingredients. Customers leave having experienced consistently well-made cocktails to fit their mood, and there is an opportunity to play and be overly adventurous, enjoy a slight variation of your favorite or stick to what you know and love in either place. 

BJ: There are now four locations of Hank’s Oyster Bar. How has the group’s beverage vision evolved along with the growth of the JL Restaurant Group portfolio? 

HD: JL Restaurant Group establishments now have regionally-recognized bar programs that are built on the success of our past initiatives. The aim is to be playful while remaining grounded in classics. For example, a few of the new menu categories at Hank’s Cocktail Bar are “We Invented the Remix,” “Beertails” and “Size Matters.” We’re serious about our cocktails, but want the atmosphere to be comfortable, social and a D.C. must-visit.

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Cognac in Motion


Hennessy’s “Master Blender’s” series, representative of the trend toward creative limited editions, is composed exclusively of high-quality eaux-de-vie that have been set aside specifically to be used at the Master Blender’s discretion.


Taking After Whiskey, The Classic French Brandy Is Getting Hot, Trading Up And Branching Out 

By Jack Robertiello

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Next Up: GEN Z


Think Millennials are a tricky bunch? Meet Generation Z…

By Kit Pepper

After 15 years on center stage, Millennials are about to have to share the spotlight with a new generation whose arrival will rock the consumer scene: Generation Z (or iGen), born from about 1996 to 2012.

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2018 Holiday Gift Guide


For wine and spirits merchants, the holiday season is the most wonderful time of the year. Also the most harrowing.

In November in particular, time and space collide as stores hustle to make room for season-specific merchandise. As is the case every year, suppliers have dug deep into their sacks of merchandising and marketing tricks to create gift-worthy pre-packed wines and spirits.

The idea behind Value Added Packs—aka VAPs, as they are often called—is simple: to make gift-giving even easier for shoppers. People love shortcuts. People love “extras.” VAPs deliver both. Whatever their motivation, VAPs offer prepackaged routes to gifting success—a resolution to which merchants and shoppers alike aspire.

Of course, not every VAP is going to suit your current store and clientele. Be mindful of stocking new products at varied price points—for the Prosecco budget and Champagne budget, so to speak.

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Mastering the Amber Spectrum (Whiskey Wisdom)


Whiskey options abound at Barrel, a whiskey and cocktail bar in Washington, DC.

Staying On Top Of Whiskey Types Is Vital To Presenting The Category Optimally

By Jeff Cioletti

The spirits-drinking public may be far more savvy about whisk(e)y than in eras past, but that doesn’t mean carrying a vast selection of the spirit is a license to print money. With total whiskey revenue up 5% and the super-premium tier up nearly 10% in 2017, according to the Distilled Spirits Council, there’s been an explosion of new brands, expressions, barrel finishes, all vying for the attention of consumers who range from aficionados who demand to try something they’ve never sampled before, to the novice drinker who’s curious but often overwhelmed.

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Single Malts: Old is New Again


The Granddaddy Of Fine Scotch Whisky Aims To Stay Relevant And Fresh

By Jack Robertiello

Ask most people in the Scotch whisky business for their opinion about American whiskey innovation, and you’re likely to get a bit of a “Been there, done that” in response.

It’s not that the changes in American whiskey don’t impress or encourage Scotch single malt producers—distillers are an affable clan of mutual admirers, and they are generally pleased that, with whiskey boundaries being broken at all levels. It’s just that perhaps the “new” whiskies are not so novel.

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Is Whiskey the New Wine?


Brenne, sourced in France by Allison Parc, is fruit-forward whiskey aged in Cognac casks; she smartly followed up the initial release with a 10 Year Old.

The Liquids are Different, but the Trajectory Begs Comparison

By W. R. Tish

Those selling wine in the varietally charged 1990s remember how a 60 Minutes report on The French Paradox kicked off an unprecedented run of wine popularity. As Americans came to embrace The Grape, consumption rose steadily, and the market exploded with expressions: single-vineyard wines, reserve wines, varietal extensions, new labels, cult wines, kitsch wines, Euro-style blends, proprietary blends, alternative packages, and so on. The wine boom reverberated loudly if not clearly for decades.

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