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Beverage Network

Beverage Network

The Beverage Media Group publications have been providing beverage alcohol licensees with pertinent business information for seventy-five years. Each publication of The Beverage Network has always been the #1 source for communicating new products and promotions, marketing information, and brand and price listings of beverage alcohol products.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Posted by on in August 2017 Editions

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It’s time to reconsider the ways to sell wine from the Golden State

By W. Blake Gray


When talking about exciting wine regions, it’s easy to forget California. The Golden State is responsible for about two-thirds of all wines sold in the U.S., yet sometimes we take it for granted.

But California is one of the world’s most exciting wine regions. It’s not just the perfect weather: it’s the constant reinvention. Often we make that a weakness, reflexively favoring Nth-generation Europeans making wine just like their ancestors (though it’s actually rarely true), as opposed to California, where they produce whatever’s fashionable.

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Posted by on in July 2017 Editions

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From Mezcal to Mules, Here are 8 Cocktail Trends to Ride into 2018

By Jack Robertiello


Drink trends move as fast as a bartender pumping out Margaritas on Cinco de Mayo. On the other hand, is there really anything new under the sun? Hoping to keep up with the currents moving through the cocktail world right now, we checked in with top bartenders and drink consultants across the country to get their sense of the most important waves to catch. 

Click Here to check out the entire article.

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Posted by on in July 2017 Editions

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By Jeff Cioletti


The bad news: Vodka is shrinking on the global scale. According to the Global Vodka Insights, a report from just-drinks and the IWSR based on 2015, the latest full-year data available, vodka’s top four markets—Russia, the U.S., Ukraine and Poland—all lost volume and value in 2015. And while the U.S. is expected to be essentiall, the others will experience further declines right through to 2021.The good news: Globally, vodka is pursuing a clear trend of premiumization, the report notes. More specifically, low-price and value sales are declining; the standard segment is flat; but premium and super-premium sales are increasing.And most relevant of all: vodka is still the biggest-selling spirit in America. And it continues to be available in myriad forms and formats, despite it being famously neutral at its core. Here are a few Q&A’s to keep up to speed on vodka today. 

Click Here to check out the entire article.
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Posted by on in July 2017 Editions

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Neutral profile calls for tasteful marketing

BY W. R. TISH


Vodka’s wave of popularity, which began last century, may be cresting, but it remains America’s reigning best-selling spirit, so keeping the section well-stocked is certainly worth the effort. Moreover, because vodka is supposed to be tasteless—promoting the spirit has always called on marketers’ keenest creativity.

That silver lining is exactly what is keeping the spirit vibrant in the marketplace. Either way, neutral or flavored, there are plenty of creative approaches at work today—which in turn provide the points of distinction that retailers can use in conversation, signage, social media, etc. To wit:

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Posted by on in June 2017 Editions

The Undiscovered Complexity in Rosé Wine

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By Kristen Bieler


Perhaps owing to its immense drinkability, rosé doesn’t invite the kind of contemplation reserved for the great red and white wines of the world. But just because it’s accessible, refreshing and often found pool-side doesn’t mean rosé can’t be complex.

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Despite being crafted from one ingredient—sugar, either as cane or molasses—there may be no major spirits category quite as diverse as rum.  Having a handle on the types, flavors, and stylistic nuances of this extremely versatile liquor is invaluable when it comes to determining how to optimize crowded shelves, and how to guide patrons toward more educated buying decisions.

 Click Here to check out the rest of the article.

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Posted by on in May 2017 Editions

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A NEW WAVE OF COFFEE-INFUSED SPIRITS, BEERS AND WINES BREW INNOVATION

BY DAVID LINCOLN ROSS

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Posted by on in May 2017 Editions

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IN TODAY’S COMPETITIVE MARKET, HAND-SELLING GIVES SAVVY MERCHANTS AN EDGE

BY ZACHARY SUSSMAN

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Posted by on in May 2017 Editions

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WITH SUCCESS IN THE U.S. AS TOP PRIORITY, GLOBAL GIANT PERNOD RICARD STEPS UP THEIR GAME

BY KRISTEN BIELER

A company doesn’t become the second largest wine and spirits supplier in the world by sitting still. The Pernod Ricard success story—which dates back to 1805—is one of continuous evolution and adaptation, and a keen understanding that what worked a decade ago may no longer be relevant today.

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Posted by on in May 2017 Editions

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Arguably no spirit has seen the highs and lows of gin, across centuries and continents. History has seen it hailed as a societal scourge as well as a miracle drug. It has been a political tool, a soldier’s support, and famously “mother’s ruin.”Locales with rich gin history run from Holland (where it all started) to Italy (where they, too, claim gin started) to London (epicenter of than two-thirds of the gin in the UK) to Spain (where “Gin Tonics” have developed into a national specialty) and, naturally, to America.Here, artisans and big brands alike are riding a current upswing in gin momentum, both off- and on-premise, and with a tilt toward the high end. Meanwhile, the gin-sipping public appears increasingly open to the particular possibilities of gin, whose styles nowadays often take juniper as a starting point rather than focus.

 Click Here to check out the rest of the article. 

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Posted by on in May 2017 Editions

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IS IT FINALLY VERMOUTH’S TIME? 
SUPPLIERS ARE RAMPING UP…

BY JACK ROBERTIELLO

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Posted by on in May 2017 Editions

 

Beer_Big_Tent.jpgCraft beer continues to punch above its weight value-wise, but volume growth appears to be slowing—rising just 6% from 2015 to ’16. “The era of 18% growth rates is probably over,” Bart Watson, the Brewers Association’s chief economist, offered recently.  

That’s one reason big brewers continue to step aggressively over the craft fence. Between brand acquisition, product development, packaging updates and outside-the-box marketing efforts ... 

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Posted by on in April 2017 Editions

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TEQUILA CONNOISSEURSHIP EMERGES, TRANSFORMING IT INTO A SIPPING SPIRIT

BY JEFF CIOLETTI 

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While there is some debate over what is the king of red winegrapes (Cabernet? Nebbiolo?), Chardonnay is the undisputed queen of whites. The most widely planted winegrape in California, it is also clearly the most popular wine in the U.S., with sales increasing every year.

People love Chardonnay because it is generous—full of fruit and then some. It is sometimes called a wine-maker’s grape because it is so moldable; treatment in the vineyard, during fermentation and barrel-aging can dramatically impact style. Which is all the more reason to take a look at what makes this popular wine tick.

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Posted by on in March 2017 Editions

Brown goods are where the green is—
all the more reason to put more care into organizing your whiskies

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By Robert Haynes-Peterson

In Emmett, ID—a former mill town with a population of 6,500—Main Street Beverage is also a bait & tackle shop. The Roundup Bar down the street serves strong pulls of vodka or Fireball to actual cowboys, and a vested craft bartender is nowhere in sight. Yet at the liquor store, where once only Jack Daniel’s, Jim Beam and Wild Turkey were offered, you’ll now find labels like Whistlepig, Bulleit and more. It’s not a big selection, but it’s evidence that today’s growing whiskey market reaches deep and across many lines. How you sell that whiskey is increasingly important.

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Posted by on in February 2017 Editions

TO STAND OUT FROM THE PACK, RESTAURANTS ARE SHAPING THEIR WINE LISTS IN PROVOCATIVE WAYS

BY JIM CLARKE

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Champagne is a portrait in irony. Inarguably an icon of luxury, the liquid itself is more like a silk purse made from a sow’s ear; the now-famous method of nurturing a secondary fermentation in the bottle effectively compensates for the inability of grapes to ripen consistently in the (extremely) cool region. And while the grapes are farmed by thousands of small growers, production remains dominated by a relatively small number of Champagne houses. Champagne has not made headlines since the turn of the century, when fears of a Y2K shortage loomed (and proved unfounded). The price tag led Champagne to lose market share as the Recession played out; but while it has slipped from its 11.4% share of the sparkling wine market in 2005, it has held steady at 8% since 2010, according to IWSR, and posted a 3.5% growth in sales from 2014 to 2015. 

  Click Here to check out the entire article as it appeared in The Journal. 

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Posted by on in January 2017 Editions

 

Cape South Coast, An Emerging Collection Of Maritime Regions, Represents The Country’s New Winemaking Frontier

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Posted by on in January 2017 Editions

 

The ‘Sessionable’ Concept Finds Footing In The Cocktail World, Not Just Beer

 

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By Jack Robertiello

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Posted by on in December 2016 Editions

 

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Brandy is the oldest of the distilled liquors; and Cognac is considered brandy’s highest expression. There’s probably no other spirit that is so tightly linked with France as Cognac—which is odd when you consider very few French people actually drink the stuff. The hugely popular brandy is popular just about everywhere but France, as only about 3% of all of the Cognac in the world is consumed in its home country. But that just means there’s more for everybody else, and it’s enjoying some impressive gains in the United States these days. Shipments of Cognac to the U.S. grew a solid 13.6% in 2015, with gains being led by the largest suppliers.

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Fully Reinvented, Austrian Whites and Reds are Ready to Captivate Americans

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Please know that the Austrians are sick and tired of talking and hearing about the 1985 wine scandal—in which a lousy bunch of unscrupulous wine merchants added a chemical used in manufacturing antifreeze to their wines, in a ham-handed, criminal attempt to increase sweetness levels. That was over 30 years ago, and Austria long ago reinvented its wine industry with some of Europe’s strictest wine laws and quality-control procedures.

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Posted by on in December 2016 Editions

Huge, Fragmented and Peppered with New Products, The Beer Market Continues to Churn

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Beer has had an incredibly turbulent year, from the Big Guys down to the little ones. Buyouts, mergers and unprecedented growth in both breweries and SKUs have made the marketplace a confusing one for beer consumers and producers alike. In the process, the oft-abused term “craft” inches closer and closer to the brink of losing all meaning with respect to beer—even as wine-centric glassmaker Riedel delivered a stamp of approval to the beer biz by designing a special Riedel beer glass.

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For reference or Research, Quick Answers or In-Depth Articles, The Internet is the Place To Be For Your Retail Management Questions

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The best wine information is online; we all know that.  But which sites should you be bookmarking?  Most guides to wine websites are for consumers, not the industry.  Here are some sites especially useful to members of the industry ... 

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What catches the eye? Bright colors. Bold shapes. Moving objects. The products in our annual roundup of holiday gift packs are certainly colorful and boldly designed—and while we don’t expect them to literally jump off the shelves, they are built to move.

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The idea behind customized Value Added Packs (aka VAPs), as they are often called, is simple—and timeless: make gift-giving even easier for shoppers.

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Posted by on in November 2016 Editions

Back to Basics:  Sherry 101

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Sherry is a case study in premiumization. Volume has been declining (gently), but premium Sherry has never been so diverse and vibrant. In 2015, imports of grandma’s sugary tipple, Cream Sherry, were down 45% compared to 2006, but Amontillado, a more premium, dry style, rose 334% over the same time.

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Posted by on in November 2016 Editions

Why Fight It? Celebrity Wines Can Have Powerful Fan Appeal

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In the 1960s, celebrities like Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner released record albums. Today, they make wines. And while the vinyl boomlet faded rather quickly, the parade of wines continues to proliferate. Death metal singers, senators, quarterbacks…they’ve all got wines. Some are more about the fan base than about vineyards, but as long as they sell, that’

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Posted by on in October 2016 Editions

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From a distance, the tale of the Scotch whisky business has been much the same for some time: single malts keep climbing, up about 50 percent in the last five years, while blended volumes continue to sag, now accounting for only about 80 percent of the category here in the States.

But what’s beneath the macro data points? Like with all spirit categories, there are trends and issues on the horizon poised to impact the Scotch whisky business.

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Posted by on in October 2016 Editions

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Saké is hot! Perhaps not literally. While hot saké is still popular, much of the growth in the U.S. is in premium styles, typically consumed chilled. More than a third of Japan’s saké production comes to the U.S. these days, and that doesn’t even account for the majority of saké Americans are drinking (over 70% of which is domestic).

While most drinkers still probably have their saké experience at a sushi restaurant, saké is also finding a place in retail shops and Western restaurants, just as other Japanese ingredients like wasabi are finding new homes. Wine and beer importers are taking note, so saké is moving beyond specialist Japanese importers, who have traditionally focused on Japanese outlets. Wine and spirits importers have added saké to their books and are bringing it to all sorts of accounts. The recently signed Trans-Partnership agreement will also make it that much easier for sake to find it’s way here.

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Posted by on in September 2016 Editions

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When people talk about the worldwide whiskey renaissance, the first word that comes to most minds is bourbon. Sure, other styles are on fire at the moment—Irish, American rye, even Canadian—but the one that’s got most of the globe talking is America’s native spirit. A couple of decades ago, producers could barely give the stuff away—it was “grandpa’s drink” after all—but today bars in the most far-flung corners of the world (even Scotland!) have multiple shelves dedicated to the U.S.-made, corn-based whiskey.

Where is it produced?

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Posted by on in September 2016 Editions

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As bartending continues to grow as a career and attract the attention of aspirational achievers, the standards on display in the many and varied competitions held throughout the year have improved as well. A trip to a distillery or a hefty check are great prizes, but today, bartenders are just as keen for the accolades that an intense, multi-day competition can bring them.

Now in its seventh year internationally and fifth including U.S. participants, the lengthy test of skills produced in collaboration with the United States Bartenders’ Guild, USBG World Class Sponsored by Diageo, is a global training program and internationally recognized competition that aims to elevate the craft of the bartender and build careers in the drink industry.

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Posted by on in August 2016 Editions

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Fortunately, the plight of female oenophiles has improved since the second century A.D., when Roman women faced severe punishment for consuming alcohol. Yet gender associations remain embedded in the world of wine. It’s easy to notice once we start looking for it: Richer, heavier wines are “masculine,” while delicate ones are said to be “feminine.” Formal wine service is ingrained with a gendered code of conduct (all too often, men still get handed the wine list; ladies get their glasses poured first). And the dominant image of a wine collector is still unflinchingly male.

Specific aspects of gender in wine are naturally evolving. Women continue to enter all corners of the industry. And presumptions of wine preference are flexing; to wit, the term “brosé” being used to capture rosé’s current surge of popularity with men—a situation practically unthinkable a decade ago.

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Posted by on in August 2016 Editions

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Close your eyes and picture a winery. Maybe you see a stately chateau. Maybe a rustic barn, or perhaps a high-tech marvel nestled in a hillside. And no matter which scenario, you most certainly can picture the winery surrounded by rows of manicured grapevines.

Whatever you imagine, it’s almost certain to be different from the set-ups presented by today’s urban wineries, set in the bustling heart of some of our most active cities, which are casting aside assumptions of what a winery ought to look like, or where it even needs to be.

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Posted by on in August 2016 Editions

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Producers have been tinkering with the spirits-aging process for about as long as distilled liquids have been stored in barrels. Techniques that have endured include using smaller barrels (which increase the amount of contact between the liquid and the wood); creating a solera (adding new spirit to already-aging product); and using wood chips or staves for oak “flavoring.”

Lately, the tinkering has aspired to an even more dramatic level, bolstered by new technologies. At the Catskill Distilling Company in Bethel, NY, proprietor Dr. Monte Sachs uses a technique he calls “accelerated aging” he learned from the late Lincoln Henderson (Brown-Forman, Angel’s Envy). Four specially designed, heat-cycled warehouses emulate seasonal heating and cooling, but at a faster rate.

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Posted by on in July 2016 Editions

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Vodka may have emerged from Eastern European distilling and drinking cultures, but as far as spirits are concerned, it’s probably the closest to the Wild West anyone’s going to get. That’s because there’s no clear standard mandating from which starchy or sugary bases it must be fermented. That’s not to say there aren’t some standards in place. The European Union, for instance, sets the vodka ABV minimum at 37.5% (75 proof). On these shores, the TTB sets the ABV Vodka may have emerged from Eastern European distilling and drinking cultures, but as far as spirits are concerned, it’s probably the closest to the Wild West anyone’s going to get.

That’s because there’s no clear standard mandating from which starchy or sugary bases it must be fermented. That’s not to say there aren’t some standards in place. The European Union, for instance, sets the vodka ABV minimum at 37.5% (75 proof). On these shores, the TTB sets the ABV floor at 40% (80 proof). The U.S. regulatory agency defines the spirit as “neutral spirits distilled or treated after distillation with charcoal or other materials so as to be without distinctive character, aroma, taste or color.”

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Posted by on in July 2016 Editions

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Barely half a decade ago, the vodka category’s flavored segment seemed to be dominated by headline-grabbing concoctions that infused the spirit with the artificial essences of everything from dessert confections to popular breakfast foods. Whipped cream, blueberry pancakes, marshmallow fluff and gummy bears were all fair game, as far as beverage developers were concerned.

The unconventional flavors, proved—for a little while at least—to be a dependable way for established, mature vodka brands to grab a little more shelf space, and add a little incremental volume to their mostly flat trademarks. For lesser known brands, it generated press and put them on the radar. But the novelties quickly wore off as consumer tastes evolved. Those brands were good for driving trial, but they generated few repeat purchases.

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