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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.

Your Livelihood Depends on It

As the Maryland General Assembly prepares to convene on January 10th, the imminent introduction of legislation allowing chain stores and supermarkets to obtain retail liquor licenses, along with another potential extension of direct shipment privileges by Maryland manufacturers (originaly introduced during COVID-19) are sure to be in the legislative hopper. On page 8, Beverage Journal staff writer, Teddy Durgin, interviews industry insiders to provide insights on what to expect and how to counteract these potential challenges.

To navigate this legislative landscape effectively, consider the following 'How-To' guide on political involvement and influence:

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Halloween: October 31st


Most scholars agree that Halloween as we know it originated some 2,000 years ago, when Celtic people in Europe celebrated the end of the harvest and the start of a new year in a festival called Samhain (pronounced “sow-win”). People also believed they could commune with the dead more easily during that time, lighting big bonfires to ward off spirits, according to The American Folklife Center.

The Celts also believed that the spiritual communication on Samhain made it easier for Celtic priests, or druids, to predict the future, according to History. To appease the deities, they built bonfires and sacrificed crops and animals. Villagers also attended the bonfire ceremonies wearing animal heads and skins as costumes.

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Constitution Day: September 17th


Citizens of the United States have celebrated Independence Day and Presidents’ Day since the 1870s, and in 2005, the nation began to celebrate Constitution Day. Also, known as Citizenship Day, Constitution Day is an American holiday honoring the day 39 delegates to the Constitutional Convention signed the United States Constitution. This historic date was September 17, 1787.

In 1939, the New York City news tycoon William Randolph Hearst suggested the creation of a holiday to celebrate American citizenship. Not only did Hearst have a wide readership of his many daily newspapers, but he had significant political connections, and in 1940, Congress designated the third Sunday in May as “I am an American Day.” President Harry Truman presented the resolution, setting aside this date in honor of the American people, especially those who had recently become citizens of the United States.

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MSLBA Report on 2022 Legislative Session



By J. Steven Wise, Esq. MSLBA Lobbyist and Legal Counsel

The Maryland General Assembly recently wrapped up its annual 90-day Session, the last one of this four-year term, and the election season of 2022 has begun in earnest for all Delegates, Senators, and statewide office holders. In fact, one of the biggest issues of the Session was the drawing of district maps, both for State legislators and Members of Congress, a process that occurs every 10 years following the U.S. Census.

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2022: Here we go again...?


As we say adieu to 2021 and ring-in 2022, it’s a good opportunity to reflect on the past and (do our best to) plan for the future.  Unfortunately, in this era of covid, our elected -- and unelected -- leaders have added an extra stratum to the already volatile beverage alcohol marketplace.  

The Maryland General Assembly will convene on January 12.  There is little doubt that legislation allowing chain stores and supermarkets to obtain retail liquor licenses as well as some beverage alcohol tax increases are going to be proposed during the 2022 legislative session. Beverage Journal staff writer Teddy Durgin has interviewed industry insiders on what to expect and how to combat this looming threat.  Check out his piece on page 26.

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BCLBA ... Rockin’ at the Races



Members of the beverage alcohol industry recently gathered for the Baltimore County Licensed Beverage Association’s (BCLBA) Rockin’ at the Races event at the Timonium Fairground Grandstand Concourse.  Industry members from all over Maryland joined the fun.  Attendees enjoyed the opportunity to gather and take part in corn hole competitions, beer, wine and liquor tasting stations, local restaurant tasting stations, pig on a pit, pit beef, raw oysters, money wheels, liquor wheels, betting on the ponies and much, much more.

 Click Here to check out all the fantastic pictures from the event (thank you Ashli Mix Photography). 

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Defunding the Defunders


As I write this, June 13, numerous media outlets are reporting that businesses in Baltimore’s historic Fells Point neighborhood are fed up with unchecked criminal activity.  

With an abundance of history and no short supply of restaurants, bars and hotels, the Fells Point on-premise industry has drawn patrons from Baltimore City, the surrounding suburbs and from around the country.  A once festive bustling nightlife is in danger of transforming into a scene from John Carpenter's Escape from New York.  The recent buzz can be attributed to one particularly deadly night where three people were shot in two separate incidents.

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The On-Premise Struggle Continues


Even though restaurant and bar employment is trending higher, staffing levels remain well below normal.  According to Bruce Gindy at the National Restaurant Association, “Eating and drinking places added a net 187,000 [U.S.] jobs in April. While the trend-line is pointing in the right direction, eating and drinking places are still 1.7 million jobs (or 14%) below pre-pandemic levels.”

Why is the industry still 14% below pre-COVID staffing levels?

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Temporary De-Regulations & Permanent Policies


As I write this, Maryland’s General assembly has just adjourned its annual legislative session. There is little doubt that Maryland’s lawmakers will again have impacted how we live our lives and run our businesses here in “ahem” The Free State.  Their actions imposing new controls or rescinding old ones will be embraced by some and decried by others.  

The legislative fallout from the executive branch’s response to covid-19 will take some time to parse. I fear the crisis caused by the restrictions on individual liberty will propel the same government that caused the need for temprary de-regulation to permanently change industry safeguards without understanding the basis and purpose of the original policies. 

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A Year Under 'Emergency' Orders


As I write this, we are a year to the day after Maryland Governor Hogan imposed his first of numerous covid-19 emergency orders restricting the freedoms and liberties of citizens and their businesses.  The initial plan was to reduce the pending run on hospital beds.   Citizens considered the 15 day emergency order that would flatten the curve and slow the spread reasonable ... especially when sold images of ambulances lined up outside hospitals and freezer trucks filled to capacity with occupied body bags.  

Today, one year later and a far cry from hospitals being at capacity, Governor Hogan’s latest decree has, “lifted most of the state’s restrictions on economic activity.”  This most recent diktat removes capacity limits on restaurants and bars.   Or does it?   The order still requires that on-premise patrons must be seated, tables must be at least six feet apart, and masking as well as distancing requirements remain in effect.  “Patrons may not stand at a crowded bar,” Hogan instructed.  

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A Look Back, To Move Forward…


For so many, 2020 was a year of fear and uncertainty as the coronavirus ravaged the country and put the on-premise side of the industry through its worst year in history. The economy came to a halt as millions of Americans sheltered in place, and businesses were forced to close indoor spaces.  The National Restaurant Association ( has gathered some interesting statistics and trends I wanted to share…

About 110,000 restaurants across the nation fell victim to dining restrictions imposed due to the pandemic, closing either temporarily or for good.

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2021 ... Are You Ready?


Farewell and adieu 2020 … may 2021 bring fair-weather.  Well, at least a more fair business climate.  The age of Covid-19 has demonstrated that not all businesses are created equal ... in the mind of our elected and appointed leaders.  Large box stores are immune to the virus while on-premise establishments have been deemed the virus’ favorite haunt (especially after 10:00 pm).  

It is true that while local and state governments deemed some businesses essential and some not, the off-premise side of the beverage alcohol industry has dodged the bullet.  Will that always be the case?  Would the local neighborhood liquor/package store have been deemed essential if grocery stores, box stores and/or chain stores sold beer, wine and liquor?  

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COVID-19: Some Numbers (You Can Use)


Changes in state-level COVID-19 restrictions, as well as consumer behaviors, have led to crests and troughs in customer traffic across all industries.  Each industry has been impacted differently, and some are further along in their economic recovery than others.  Unfortunately, the on-premise side of the beverage alcohol industry has seen the deepest dip in business and has been the slowest to realize any significant bounce-back.

Let’s take a look at some numbers … just in the State of Maryland: 

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Medalla Light Enters Market


Medalla Light, Puerto Rico’s top-selling beer is now in Maryland and Washington, DC

Cervecera de Puerto Rico, which has crafted Medalla Light for 40 years, officially announced their partnership with EMD Sales, Inc. for beer distribution in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Medalla Light is brewed on the tropical island of Puerto Rico by Cervecera de Puerto Rico … one of the leading barley-based companies in Latin America and the Caribbean.  Medalla Light’s reputation for its premium quality and crisp, refreshing taste has quickly become the beer of choice for those seeking a chance to celebrate. Medalla Light has won multiple awards and has earned worldwide recognition at the Monde Selection in Brussels, the North American Beer Awards and the Australian International Beer Awards. 

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Coronavirus: Resources for The Trade


As the Beverage Journal continues to closely monitor reports concerning the COVID-19 outbreak and the guidance being provided by the relevant health and government authorities, we want to ensure you that our Dynamic Search database is fully operational. 

State/National Resources

Industry Relief & Activist Efforts

Resource Hub for Customers

  • Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits has launched — an online hub for trade customers, providing COVID-19-related updates and resources for businesses in the hospitality industry. It includes federal and state-specific guidance for employers and employees; SGWS customers can also sign up on the website to receive email updates as new information is posted on the site. 

News Impacting the Industry

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Maryland's Beverage Alcohol Industry Holds Legislative Reception



Enjoying the Maryland Beverage Alcohol Industry Legislative Reception are Del. Sid Saab, Dist. 33; Del. April Rose. Dist. 5; Del. Haven Shoemaker, Dist. 5; and Del. Matt Morgan, Dist. 29A.

The Maryland State Licensed Beverage Association (MSLBA), the Licensed Beverage Distributors of Maryland (LBDM), and the Maryland Beer Wholesalers Association (MBWA) welcomed industry members and Legislators to their annual Opening Day Legislative Reception at the Governor Calvert House in Annapolis on January 8.  The event is held annually on the afternoon of the opening day of the Maryland Legislative session.  

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MSLBA Annual Meeting and Legislative Update


John Bodnovich, Executive Director of MSLBA's national affiliate - American Beverage Licensees (ABL), administers the oath of office to the newly elected MSLBA officers.  L to R: MSLBA Recording Secretary, Kevin Storm of Frederick Wine House; Vice President, Mike Scheuerman of Friendship Wine & Liquors in Harford County; President, Aashish Parikh of Cranberry Liquors in Carroll County; Treasurer, Marshele Burgess of Rip's Country Inn in Prince George's County; Financial Secretary, Pete Samios of Carroll County, and
John Bodnovich of ABL.


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REVEL: A New Brand and Category


Revel's Avila is not just a new spirit – it represents the formation of a new category under the agave umbrella.  Like tequila, Revel Avila is distilled using 100% Blue Weber agave; however, that's where the similarities stop. Avila can only be produced using agave grown and distilled in the Morelos region, a small state in the south central part of Mexico with a distinctive terroir that's evident in the taste of the final product.

Unlike the Tequila region, which has been in operation for 400+ years, Morelos (the only place Avila can be produced) is new to agave growing, boasting pristine, alkaline-rich soil. The farmers and distillers share an unwavering commitment to authentic processes and techniques like natural bat pollination and the use of volcanic roasting pits.  

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ViVi from Roberto Mascarin


The Vineyards of San Valentino were born from a dream and a great passion for the land and its fruits.  The vineyard is located in the region of Emilia
Romagna (Italy) on the hills of Rimini, but a few steps from the sea. Roberto Mascarin and his family have been producing wines from this territory bordered by the Adriatic Sea to the east and by the first peak of the Apennines to the west since 1990.

Their ViVi, Colli Di Rimini Rebola D.O.P. 2017 Organic Selection, wine is dedicated to Valeria Vivian, wife of Roberto Mascarin. The first vintage he made for this wine was the 2017, which is when he lost his wife to cancer. 

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Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Apple


The Jack Daniel Distillery has introduced the newest member of the Jack Daniel’s family … Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Apple is a blend of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey with finely crafted apple liqueur.

“Mr. Jack was known for being an innovator and always exploring how to do things differently, including adding different flavors and ingredients,” said Jack Daniel’s Master Distiller Jeff Arnett. “Tennessee Apple couples the character of our Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey with the taste of crisp, green apples. It’s like a freshly picked apple in a glass of Jack.”

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Trade Wars … Tariffs ... Taxes ...


Over the past few months headlines repeatedly scream about an impending trade war between the U.S. and, depending on the week, just about everybody else. Among the debated questions – who really pays the higher tariffs?  Of course, the media could never be helpful enough to explain that the ultimate consumer price/producer profit impact will vary with the product in question, strength of demand, availability of alternate products or sources, etc. Suffice it to say that adding costs is rarely a good thing, and that increased government revenue from tariffs will almost always be an expense shared in varying degree by buyers and sellers. 

The beverage alcohol business is in the unenviable position of being a weapon/victim of both the U.S. and many trading partners. Alcohol beverages often seem to be selected for new tariffs that will get the attention of the other side. Even though trade disputes about unfair practices impacting free trade in alcohol beverage products are generally fairly minor, we keep getting drawn into the battles we initially played no role in. 

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BCLBA Rockin’ at the Races


Some VIPs in attendance were Jane Springer, Executive Director, MSLBA; Goose Kaiser, Past President, BCLBA; Dan Minnick, Former Delegate and Owner of Minnick's Restaurant; Jeri Zink, Executive Director, BCLBA; Paul King, President, BCLBA (King Liquors); and Jack Milani, Legislative Chairman, BCLBA/MSLBA (Monaghan's Pub).

Members of the beverage alcohol industry recently gathered for the Baltimore County Licensed Beverage Association’s (BCLBA) Rockin’ the Races event at the Timonium Fairground Grandstand Concourse.  Industry members from all three tiers and from all over Maryland joined the fun.  Attendees enjoyed live music, bartender competitions, corn hole toss competitions, beer, wine and liquor tasting stations, local restaurant tasting stations, pig on a pit, pit beef, raw oysters, money wheels, liquor wheel, betting on the ponies and much, much more.

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Brown-Forman Retailers of the Year


Seventeen independent beverage licensees from states across the country have been recognized as Brown-Forman Retailers of the Year. Nominated by their state licensed beverage associations for commitment to their state associations, dedication to the beverage alcohol industry and their success in business, these licensees were honored in a ceremony at the ABL Annual Meeting. 

For more than two decades, the Brown-Forman Retailer of the Year awards have celebrated retail beverage licensees who engage in the responsible sale and service of beverage alcohol, are committed to their state beverage associations, and demonstrated excellence in innovative retailing. ABL congratulates all of the honored businesses and licensees for their outstanding and continued contributions to their state associations, the industry and their communities.

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The 2019 Maryland Legislative Session: A Final Report


Despite the profound sadness over the passing of Speaker Busch the day before, work continued on Monday, April 8, until the curtain closed at midnight (sine die).  With that came the end of 90 days filled with new faces in both chambers, and new Committee leadership in the Senate.  This was the first year of the four-year term, following the 2018 election, which brought nearly 60 new legislators or almost a one-third turnover in the 188 member General Assembly.  New legislators constituted over half of the membership of the Senate Education, Health and Environment Committee (EHE), where alcohol bills are considered.  That Committee also had a new Chairman in Senator Paul Pinsky (D-Prince George’s), who kindly spoke to those who attended Lobby Day on February 21st, as did new House Alcohol Subcommittee Chairman, Delegate Talmadge Branch (D-Balt. City).

The goals of the Maryland State Licensed Beverage Association (MSLBA) for this year were largely achieved, thanks to the efforts of our members and in particular our Legislative Committee, which reviewed, discussed and took positions on each of the 164 bills we identified as impacting the industry, amidst the nearly 2,500 total bills filed.  Our Legislative Committee’s work was made more difficult than usual, since nearly half of the bills were introduced just ahead of the deadline during the week of February 4th, almost 30 days into the Session.  This was a symptom of the 2018 election, which gave legislators, particularly new ones, less time than usual to prepare their legislation.

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Santa Carolina Reserva Relaunch


Santa Carolina Reserva is a tribute to Carolina Íñiguez –the wife of the winery’s founder Luis Pereira.  This wine seeks to reach people who are keen on enjoying every moment and always find an opportunity to turn an ordinary day into a special occasion.

Carolina is a woman who knows how to enjoy life. She can turn even the simplest of moments into a grand one. She, like no other, understands the power of small details and reminds us that any moment can become a great occasion and that there is always a good reason to celebrate.

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Sailor Jerry & Aleethia Supporting our Troops


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.

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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Maryland’s Admission and Amusement Tax is No Joke


By Jeremy M. Vaida

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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10th Anniversary of Washington's Distillery Reconstruction


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

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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Old Camp Peach Pecan Whiskey


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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2017 Baltimore Beer Week


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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A Conversation with Slane Irish Whiskey Co-Founder Alex Conyngham



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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ABL Honors Maryland Retailers


Brown-Forman Retailers of the Year Recognized for Their Continued Commitment to the Beverage Alcohol Industry

Eighteen beverage licensees from across the United States were recently recognized as Brown-Forman Retailers of the Year at the 2017 American Beverage Licensees (ABL) Annual Meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada. Nominated by their state beverage associations for their success and dedication to the beverage alcohol industry, these business owners were honored in a ceremony at the ABL Honors Gala on March 27, 2017.

 For more than two decades, the Brown-Forman Retailer of the Year awards have celebrated independent retail beverage business owners who engage in responsible sales and service of beverage alcohol, and who are committed to their state beverage associations.  ABL congratulates all of the honored businesses and licensees for their outstanding and continued contributions to the industry and their communities.

 "Independent beverage retailers support a dynamic and spirited industry, while also promoting and encouraging the responsible sale and enjoyment of beer, wine and spirits," said ABL Executive Director John Bodnovich. "It is in this spirit that they are recognized with this award before their industry peers and held up as examples of success."

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In Memoriam: Edwin R. Malin


On February 5, 2017, Edwin 'Eddie' R. Malin; beloved husband of Doris Malin and a long-time, highly respected member of the licensed beverage industry departed this world. 

I met Mr. Malin in 1993 shortly after Lee W. Murray, Publisher of the Beverage Journal, hired me ... 'Nice to meet you Mr. Malin.'  "Stop that 'Mr.' stuff, I'm Ed or Eddie.  Either is fine."

Ed (as I became comfortable calling him) was a great person.  But many of you don't need me to tell you that. 

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Irish Up Close


What's Behind The Irish Surge?

These are the best of times for Irish whiskey, which represented 1.4% of the spirits overall U.S. spirits market in 2015. May not sound like much, but 10 years earlier that figure was 0.4%.  Of course, the Irish boom has been famously brand-driven, with Jameson not merely in the driver's seat, but essentially helping fill up the whole car, having deftly in recent years expanded the brand’s Expressions to include reserve bottling and special finishes, most notably Jameson Select Reserve and Caskmates; and Jameson Black Barrel made a splash with its launch in 2016.

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Linganore Winecellars Celebrates 40th Anniversary


Linganore Winecellars in Mt. Airy, Maryland, one of the oldest wineries on the East Coast, and in their second generation of wine making is celebrating its 40th anniversary with the start of the 2016 harvest from their 75-acre estate vineyard.  Committed to making excellent wines, dry and sweet, grape, fruit and artisanal wines, the celebration will kick off in late September at the winery.  Events are also planned for October, November and December 2016 (details at bottom). 

Started in 1971 as a hobby in hope of a dream, Jack and Lucille Aellen purchased the 230 acre farm and planted a few acres of vines on its rolling hills.  Wine making was a hobby then, having German-Swiss roots on Jack’s side and Italian roots on Lucille’s.  In 1974, Lucille’s father gifted the Aellen’s with his hand press and two hand-crank crushers, which the family used to open the winery in 1976.  Understanding that one-size-did-not-fit-all when it comes to taste in wine, Jack strove to produce many different (30+) wines, becoming a pioneer in the industry, denoted by the Maryland Wine Association’s “Jack Aellen Cup” for Fruit wines and Meade.  That tradition continues to this day, with the winery producing 38 different types of wine in 2016. 

1984 saw the passing on of the wine making to Anthony Aellen, now the Executive Winemaker and Eric followed later as Vineyard Manager.  With 75 acres of vineyards, the largest in Maryland, most Linganore wines are Estate Bottled (grown, produced and bottled on the Linganore property), and allows for excellence by careful tending and picking of grapes when conditions are optimal.  Originally begun in Hybrid grapes, the family added Vinifera a little over 10 years ago, which has expanded their dry wine offerings.  Crafting wines has become a wonderful pleasure to the family ... as Anthony says, "...each year I get [antoher] chance to make the perfect vintage."   This delight in their work has paid off, as their wines have won over 500 awards, with a double gold for their Reserve Cabernet and Reserve Chardonnay in the 2016 Maryland Governor’s Cup.

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Conundrum Wines: Still Exploring, 25 Years Later


Conundrum was born 25 years ago, and today it still stands for doing things your own way and daring to explore. Its inspiration came from Charlie Wagner, Sr. – co-founder of Caymus Vineyards and father to winery owner Chuck Wagner – who would sit at the dining room table and mix wines to create the “perfect glass” to pair with his meal. At the time, blending wines was considered almost unthinkable, and even Charlie Sr. had no idea that his bold experiment would help usher in a whole new trend. 

Today, Conundrum is as original as ever.  They continue to source their fruit from some of the most sought-after California winegrowing regions to ensure both quality and diversity: Napa, Monterey, Santa Barbara and Tulare Counties. While the exact blend remains under wraps, with every vintage they include Chardonnay for its weight and complexity, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon for crisp acidity, Muscat Canelli for floral qualities and Viognier for lush texture. Taken together, they add up to a wine that’s amazingly versatile, pairing well with everything from salmon to spicy food, or enjoyed on its own as an aperitif. 

Winemakers, Jon Bolta and Charlie Wagner, preserve the individual characteristics of each varietal by taking great care to keep separate lots of fruit throughout the entire winemaking process. Some lots are aged in chilled stainless steel tanks to maintain fresh, crisp aromas and fruit flavors, and some in a combination of aged and new French oak barrels for up to ten months. The intriguing result: a wine with multiple layers, subtle and complex, born of an adventurous spirit while inviting more adventures to come.

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Alaska Proof On The Loose In The Mid Atlantic


Alaska Distillery is a small batch distillery located in the foothills of the Alaska Range, where they handcraft spirits with ultra-pure glacier water and the finest grains and ingredients. Having developed a reputation for superior spirits with their Flagship Ultra-Premium Vodka, Permafrost, Alaska Distillery continues to blaze new trails with flavors and inventive spirits indigenous to a state famous for extreme beauty, untamed wilderness, and pristine scenery.

You can catch Toby and the entire Alaska Distillery gang every Thursday night on the Animal Planet channel’s new hit show ALASKA PROOF.


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New Liberty Distillery: Commemorating Maryland’s Rich Distilling History


New Liberty Distillery, located in Philadelphia, PA, is reinterpreting some of the famous, but forgotten, Pennsylvania and Maryland brands that once formed the foundation of the U.S. whiskey business.  As Michael Jackson, the renowned international whiskey critic, commented, “American whiskey had its beginnings in Pennsylvania and Maryland.”  Many of the region’s brands were lost to Prohibition or Americans’ changing tastes after World War II that led to the rise of light mixable spirits like vodka.  

“Our Heritage Collection is made up of whiskeys we are reintroducing and New Liberty is honored to make them once again available to consumers,” stated Thomas Jensen of New Liberty Distillery.   “We introduced our first Heritage Collection release, Kinsey, in 2014.  Kinsey is a famous Pennsylvania-based whiskey that was once nationally known for its witty advertising and easy drinking style.   We currently are launching our Maryland Heritage Series exclusively in Maryland and The District of Columbia.  Maryland rye was a softer rye whiskey usually with a 51% rye content, unlike Pennsylvania rye which was usually 95% rye and very spicy.  At the turn of the century, the Baltimore area was home to numerous distilleries which are now long closed.  After extensive research, we decided on three distilleries that played unique roles in making Maryland whiskey famous.  Our master distiller, Robert J. Cassell, sought existing whiskey stocks that could be used to create the easy drinking style of pre- and post-Prohibition Maryland whiskey, and we hope you can taste the history in every sip.”  

The Melvale Distillery, maker of Melvale Rye Whiskey, was located in the Jones Falls section of Baltimore, on Cold Spring Road. One of the original buildings remains intact, although the site no longer distills alcohol. Melvale Pure Rye was one of the most premium of the pre-prohibition Maryland ryes. 

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Neighborhood Bars Closing ... Don't Count Them Out


Taps are running dry and doors are closing at neighborhood bars across the country. That has left the remaining ones to try to find ways to stay afloat.

One in six bars closed between 2004 and 2014, according to market research firm Nielsen. More than 600 close each month, with just 334 opening.

The neighborhood bar closures are happening as more people are getting their alcoholic drinks from restaurants, cavernous sports bars with scores of TV screens, brewpubs and at home. Besides the increasing competition, neighborhood bars also are contending with other challenges, including rising costs for expenses such as rent.

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Teeling Single Malt Irish Whiskey

Teeling Single Malt Irish Whiskey

The Teeling Whiskey Company has expanded its premium Irish whiskey portfolio with the launch of its award winning Irish Single Malt.  This Single Malt, was recently named World’s Best Irish Single Malt at the 2015 World Whiskies Awards.

Teeling Single Malt is the third release in the Premium range of Teeling expressions completing their full range to form the Teeling Trinity of non-aged statement of Irish whiskeys. To add a unique depth of character and flavor, Teeling Single Malt consists of aged malt whiskey up to 23 years old that has been matured in five different wine casks including Sherry, Port, Madeira, White Burgundy and Cabernet Sauvignon. This combination of cask maturation techniques has never been done before in Irish whiskey and creates a truly innovative Irish whiskey bursting with personality. Like all the Teeling whiskeys, it is bottled at 46% with no chill filtration allowing for all the natural flavors of the whiskey to be retained. 

Jack Teeling, founder of the Teeling Whiskey Company, commented, “We are delighted to be able to release another expression of Teeling whiskey that helps expand consumer choice and challenge existing perceptions of Irish whiskey. Our new Teeling Single Malt proves Irish whiskey can have big bold flavors that appeal to Single Malt drinkers without losing its distinctive Irish identity.”

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Distilled Spirits Growth Continued in 2015

Distilled Spirits Growth Continued in 2015

Distilled Spirits in the United States have enjoyed a gain in market share for the sixth consecutive year.  The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) has reported another year of steady growth in 2015 with supplier sales up 4.1 percent and volumes up 2.3 percent.  Distilled spirits suppliers and marketers also marked the sixth straight year of increasing their market share relative to beer in 2015. 

“The positive performance of distilled spirits is the result of many factors including market modernization, product innovation, consumer premiumization and hospitality tax restraint,” said DISCUS President and CEO Kraig R. Naasz.

DISCUS reported strong growth in every whiskey category for the second straight year, with revenues rising 8 percent.  Super premium whiskeys were particularly popular among American consumers with luxury Bourbon, Scotch, Canadian and Irish whiskeys all recording double-digit gains.  Other categories performing ahead of the distilled spirits average growth included Tequila, with another exceptional year of 9.4 percent sales growth, and Cognac, with sales growth of 16.2 percent.

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Protect Your Livelihood

Protect Your Livelihood

Get Involved...Stay Involved   

The Maryland 2016 Legislative session begins in two days (it is January 11th as I type this) … There is no doubt that Chain Store legislation is a concern of the entire industry as is Dram Shop legislation.  As in year’s past, you can expect these industry hot topics to arise during this year’s session.  Chain stores being allowed to enter the Maryland marketplace is a dangerous prospect to the independent beer, wine and liquor retailer.  As in year’s past, I am again iterating how important it is to get as many industry members involved and be prepared to defend the independent store-owners’ position to the state representatives.  Many of you are involved and are familiar with the process of protecting your business from harmful proposed legislation.  However, too many are not.  Below is my annual ‘How To’ on getting involved and protecting your livelihood …

First, you need to know what proposed legislation is coming down the pipe and how it would affect your business.  Becoming a member of your county association as well as the Maryland State Licensed Beverage Association (MSLBA) would be a great start.  The MSLBA was formed, in part, because the association's leaders understood that actions in the Maryland State House directly impact the operations of your businesses.  The MSLBA tracks proposed legislation that will have an effect on its members’ businesses.  They do this right at their web site,  

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Breakthru Beverage Group Launched

Breakthru Beverage Group Launched

Charmer Sunbelt and Wirtz Beverage Begin New Venture

Breakthru Beverage Group, an innovative beverage wholesaler formed by Charmer Sunbelt and Wirtz Beverage, was established on January 1 and has launched in 19 markets including Maryland and The District of Columbia. 

“Breakthru Beverage is built upon the best of our legacy operations while setting a new path and approach forward,” explained Greg Baird, Breakthru Beverage President and CEO.  “Our vision for the future is focused on excellence and how we can be a stronger and more innovative partner for our suppliers and customers in all of our markets.”

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Escutcheon Brewing Co.

Escutcheon Brewing Co.

"Mind Your Draft"

Most craft brewers are entrepreneurs who have an interesting back story.  The Escutcheon Brewery, located in Winchester, Virginia, is a good example of an interesting story and some interesting beers.

Escutcheon Brewing Co. started with the friendship between two guys who both really like beer. John Hovermale and Art Major met while John was working to open a different brewery in Winchester. While that venture didn't work out, their friendship did.  Together, pint after pint, the pair discussed how they would "do it the right way," were they to launch a brewery of their own.

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Casey’s Bar and Restaurant Holds Charity Golf Tourney

Casey’s Bar and Restaurant Holds Charity Golf Tourney

I always enjoy hearing about good deeds being done by members of the industry.  I came across something that is very worthy of some press.  Casey’s Bar and Restaurant in Parkville, MD recently hosted their 7th annual golf tournament in honor of three of their favorite customers on the spectrum (the Autism Spectrum) … Christina Pollizzi, CJ Manouse, and Eric Kane. 

Owners Casey Brooks and his mom, Terry Santoro started their annual golf tournament as a way for employees and patrons to get together and have fun outside of the establishment.  There was no specific charity. More recently proceeds were donated to a local church. This year, however, Casey wanted to support an organization that works to provide resources, research, and awareness to his patrons. He chose Autism Speaks and he worked hard to get sponsorships from his distributors and donations from nearby businesses. Most of all, he needed golfers.  Well, he got them, lots of them.  Casey’s efforts paid off as he raised $5,000 to benefit Walk Now for Autism Speaks: Baltimore. 

This industry is full of people and organizations giving back to their communities in very heart-warming ways.  If you or your company has conducted a fundraiser, let us know about it.  We are very happy to tout your efforts here in the Beverage Journal.

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Bruce Wills Named Boordy Vineyards’ National Sales Director

Bruce Wills Named Boordy Vineyards’ National Sales Director

Bruce Wills has assumed the position of National Sales Director for Boordy Vineyards and will be responsible for managing the distribution and sales of Boordy wines in Maryland, the mid-Atlantic region, and beyond.

Bruce began his wine career in the early 1970’s working in both retail liquor stores and distribution.  In 1985 Bruce joined the Robert Mondavi Winery, serving as their mid-Atlantic representative for 11 years, spanning the period when that winery was a central figure in the renaissance of California wines.  Following Mondavi, Bruce has held management positions with William Deutsch & Sons, Rosemont Estate, and for the past eleven years he served as Sales Director for Old Bridge Cellars, an importer and marketer of fine wines from around the world.

Regarding his new position, Bruce said, “I love wine and am excited about the future of local wine; Boordy is Maryland’s first winery; it has always been an industry leader and takes quality very seriously.  I am thrilled to have the opportunity to represent Boordy’s wine portfolio to the many friends that I have made throughout my career.”

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Maryland Microbrewery Festival

Maryland Microbrewery Festival

The historic Union Mills Homestead recently hosted the Maryland Microbrewery Festival.  This year was the 10th Anniversary of the event. The event celebrates the best of Maryland's handcrafted and distinctive microbrews and craft beers. Eighteen breweries were on hand, each with a variety of beers to sample.  The Festival was also the concluding event of Carroll County’s Beer Week … a celebration of Maryland craft beer, including Carroll County brewers and brewpubs, the region’s agricultural products used in making Maryland beer, and those establishments that sell these products.

Pictured above are Clint Griggs, The Phoenix Emporium in Ellicott City; and Chad Twigg, Heavy Seas Beer; enjoying the Maryland Microbrewery Festival.


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Glenfiddich 14

Glenfiddich 14

Glenfiddich Pays Tribute To The American Whiskey Industry With 14 Year Old Release.

Glenfiddich – one of the world’s most awarded single malt Scotch whiskies – has recently released a new expression to its permanent portfolio: Glenfiddich 14 Year Old.  Exclusive to the United States, the bourbon barrel reserve is a celebration of American spirit. It pays tribute to the shared history of American and Scotch whisk(e)y, and the American Oak ex-bourbon barrels that are the backbone of the single malt Scotch whisky industry. 

Glenfiddich 14 Year Old uniquely delivers a bourbon heart with the soul of single malt.  Matured for 14 years in ex-bourbon American Oak casks, the whisky delivers beautifully complex flavors of woody spices combined with ripe summer fruit, resulting from the spirit’s interaction with the casks. After waiting patiently for 14 years, Glenfiddich Malt Master, Brian Kinsman, finishes the whisky in deep charred new American Oak barrels supplied by The Kelvin Cooperage in Louisville, Kentucky. The result: a rich, sweet and vibrant single malt.

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Henry “Hoby” Wedler

Henry “Hoby” Wedler

Host of Francis Ford Coppola Winery's Tasting in The Dark

Henry “Hoby” Wedler is a blind graduate student at the University of California, Davis, founder of the nationally recognized chemistry camp for the blind and host of Francis Ford Coppola Winery’s Tasting in the Dark experience.  When he’s not busy working towards his Ph.D. in organic chemistry or leading his blind or visually impaired chemistry camp students in conducting lab experiments through touch and smell, he turns his attention to wine – where he’s passionate about wine flavor and how it relates to chemistry.

Once per month Hoby travels to the Francis Ford Coppola Winery and hosts Tasting in the Dark, a blind tasting experience that he helped establish with the Coppola winemaking team in 2011. The surprising and enlightening two-hour wine tasting, where guests are blindfolded and led to the Winemaker’s Lab, explores how flavors and aromas in wine are accentuated when experienced in complete darkness. Hoby believes that when a sighted person is in complete darkness, he or she feels more vulnerable and his or her senses become more heightened, bringing out more flavors in a wine.  

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Fielder’s Choice Raises $8,500.00

Fielder’s Choice Raises $8,500.00

As a follow-up to my September column announcing the availability (as well as the fundraising efforts) of Heavy Seas’ “Fielder’s Choice” … Hugh and his team recently presented their donation of $8,500 to the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation. This donation comes from the proceeds generated by the sale of their commemorative Fielder's Choice beer, celebrating the 20th anniversary of Cal’s 2131 as well as the 20th anniversary of Heavy Seas.

The Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 2001 by baseball Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr., 12-year Major League Baseball veteran Bill Ripken, and members of the Ripken family. The Foundation honors the legend and spirit of Cal Ripken, Sr., who passed away in 1999. During his 37-year career with the Baltimore Orioles organization, Cal, Sr. was a pioneer for his way of teaching the basics of the game as well as the basics of life to both big leaguers and their youth league counterparts. The traits and lessons passed on by Cal, Sr. – leadership, work ethic, responsibility, and healthy living -- are brought to life through a character education curriculum created for at-risk youth.

The Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation is reaching out to underserved youth across the country. Through partnerships with youth-serving organizations and schools, the Foundation brings vital life lessons to America’s most impressionable population, using baseball as the hook to engage kids.

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