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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 February 2020 Editions
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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Posted by on in December 2019 Editions
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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 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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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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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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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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Posted by on in March 2019 Editions
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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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Posted by on in March 2019 Editions
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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?

Kim-Mixing_hi-resIf 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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Posted by on in March 2019 Editions

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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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Posted by on in February 2019 Editions
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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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Posted by on in December 2018 Editions

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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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Posted by on in November 2018 Editions

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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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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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Posted by on in October 2018 Editions

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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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Posted by on in October 2018 Editions
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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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Posted by on in October 2018 Editions

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Ultimate Beverage Challenge 2018: 
Identifying The World’s Best Spirits, Cocktails, Ciders, Sakes & Wines ...

Ultimate Beverage Challenge® (UBC) conducts two major international beverage competitions: Ultimate Spirits Challenge® (USC) each March and Ultimate Wine Challenge® (UWC) each May.So, since 2010, why has UBC become the bever-age industry’s most trusted and respected evaluation company? Answers UBC’s Judging Chairman and Co-Founder F. Paul Pacult, “Three crucial factors have made UBC the world’s foremost authority of beverage alcohol quality. First is our rigorous, innovative meth-odology that creates a level plaor every spirit and wine that’s submitted to USC and UWC. We introduced the industry’s strictest analytical processes by institut-ing a unique multi-level evaluation system that allows more than one panel to analyze each entry. In order for spirits and wines to display their virtues, they are served at optimum temperatures. UBC is the only competition company to insist on so 8 beverages so judges remain alert and fresh. Entries are tasted blind with like-with-like spirits and wines to ensure that each entry is dealt with fairly. Our goal is one-pointed: to provide unbiased, accurate ratings.“Second, because of UBC’s uncompromising and stringent procedural standards we must hire the world’s foremost authorities as our spirits and wine judges. By that I mean our generation’s most prominent and acknowledged beverage specialists, such as Masters of Wine, Master Sommeliers, award-winning authors and journalists, consultants and buyers, bartenders, bar owners, and food and beverage managers. In addition to the UBC judges, we employ the most capable and experienced organizational team in the world to guarantee the smooth operation of each competition.“Third, UBC has its own dedicated facility in Hawthorne, New York, a mere 35 minutes north of Manhattan, where both USC and UWC are conducted. By creating a pristine, calm, and conducive environment for our staff and judges, we have brought forward the entire concept of beverage competitions. The UBC Evaluation Center provides brick-and-mortar proof of UBC’s total commitment to doing things right. It’s the UBC way, where shortcuts are never allowed.”If these reasons aren’t enough for you to believe in UBC as being the world’t beverage competition company, visit the UBC website for more at www.ultimate-beverage.com.

 Click Here for the complete results and ratings.  (This is a large file, be patient while it downloads.)

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Posted by on in September 2018 Editions

Sept18 Influencers_V2

By Vicki Denig


More & More Brands Embrace Image-Driven Marketing.
But How Influential are ‘Influencers,’ Really? 

They’ve upended the fashion world. Their impact has transformed the health, fitness and beauty industries as well. And today, we are increasingly feeling their impact in the wine business.

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Posted by on in September 2018 Editions

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Premiumization Lifts Blended Scotch; Pure Malts Add To The Momentum

By David Lincoln Ross


While single malts have enjoyed much of the Scotch whisky spotlight in recent decades, blends still rule Scotch volume in the U.S. And recent patterns are worth watching. With an uptick in releases of cask-conditioned Scotch aged in Port or Sherry barrels, new bottlings of 12-, 15- and 18-year-old blends, plus a growing array pure malt offerings, premiumization is energizing the blended Scotch category in ways not seen in at least a generation.

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Posted by on in August 2018 Editions

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Celebrating eight bartenders at the forefront of establishing women’s leadership behind the bar

 

Text by Jack Robertiello         ⊗        Portraits by Andrew kist


One of the sometimes overlooked but significant changes wrought by the blossoming of Cocktail Culture across the country has been the surge of female bartenders at every level of the business.

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Lohr Focuses On Cool-Climate White Wines

By Kristen Bieler

Unlike many California winemakers, Kristen Barnhisel doesn’t worry much about acidity. “In Monterey’s cool-climate Arroyo Seco region, we have plenty of acidity every vintage; building texture into our wines is what I’m focused on,” says Barnhisel, the white wine winemaker for J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines.

Working with Jeff Meier, J. Lohr’s President and longtime Director of Winemaking, Barnhisel works solely on crafting the estate’s white wines, a position that founder Jerry Lohr has always emphasized. “Jerry has always known that this kind of focus is what is required to achieve the kind of quality we are looking for,” Barnhisel explains.

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Posted by on in July 2018 Editions

July18 Vodka

It’s hard to call a spirit ‘neutral’ when there’s so much diversity within its category 

By Jeff Cioletti


Vodka hasn’t attracted the sort of feverish fandom that, say, whiskey and agave spirits have, but that, in a sense, is by design. If vodka is truly doing its job and being everything it’s supposed to be, it’s neutral—without color, aroma or flavor (mostly). What’s to get excited about?

Well, it still outsells every other spirit—that’s pretty exciting.

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Posted by on in July 2018 Editions

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Winegrowers are taking deliberate steps to lighten up Malbec and more

By W. Blake Gray


 If you haven’t tried Argentine wine in a while, you might be surprised. Malbec, the country’s definitive wine that has earned its status here by punching above its price point, is changing. Musclebound Malbec is no longer the norm; there’s a trend toward picking earlier and using less new oak. In short, Argentina is lightening up.

This is not just a trend for boutique producers, or at one price level. Some of Argentina’s most important exporters—including Catena, Susana Balbo, Trivento, Kaiken and Trapiche—are intentionally making most of their wines lighter. “Ten years ago, one of the most important elements was concentration. Density,” says Trivento Chief Winemaker German di Cesare. “Now it’s not so important.”

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Fruit Brandies—A Small But Booming Niche—Present Opportunities

By Jack Robertiello

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Posted by on in June 2018 Editions
Sampling from barrel at Flor de Caña.

As Premiumization Reaches Rum, The Action Is In Aged Expressions

By Jack Robertiello


When Gruppo Campari threw open the doors to their $7+ million expansion of Appleton Estate distillery in the hills of Jamaica in January, it was only the latest step in their effort to upgrade the reputation of the best-known aged Jamaican rum.

This expansion comes after recent double-digit growth for Appleton Estate Reserve Blend and Rare Blend 12 YO, the introduction of 21- and 50-year-old expressions, and the swapping of J. Wray for Appleton on the Gold and Silver rums, leaving Appleton as an aged-only brand.

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Posted by on in June 2018 Editions

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Ready-To-Drink Sangria Is Having A Moment

By Jeff Cioletti


 Beverage segments come and go with the ebb and flow of consumer trends, but one category that’s had a dependably steady, yet relatively quiet presence on the scene has been ready-to-drink sangria. There are some periods in which it’s more fashionable than others, but it’s always somehow managed to adapt to evolving consumer habits.

Ready-to-drink sangria is a relatively tiny segment, accounting for about 4.7 million total cases and revenue of about $193 million in the 52-week period that ended in late March, according to Nielsen. Volume grew about 4.1% and revenue climbed about 3.5% over the prior 12-month period. Domestically produced sangria represents the larger slice of the market, 3.7 million cases to imports’ 972,459 cases. But import volume grew faster during that period, surging 9.6% versus domestic growth of 2.7%.

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Posted by on in June 2018 Editions
Sable’s Message in a Bottle has dual serving vessels for distinct aged spirits.

Mixologists Continue To Push The Limits Of Ingredients & Technique

By Jack Robertiello


If you can find it a TGI Friday’s, can it still be extreme? 

As cocktail trends ebb and flow with the drive to be fresh and intriguing, it’s hard to make a splash without reaching for extremes. Which may be how a drink made with charcoal was featured at one of the largest mainstream chains last year.

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Posted by on in June 2018 Editions

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The Need For Evolution And A Commitment To ‘Stand Out’ Highlight The Annual Wine & Spirits Wholesaler Convention

By Kristen Bieler


This year was the 75th anniversary of the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America convention. Held in Las Vegas from April 30th through May 3rd, the convention also marks the last year of WSWA President and CEO Craig Wolf’s leadership after 18 years with the organization. Among his parting words of advice: “A unified membership has been the key to our success.”

General session attendees heard from former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Sidney Frank Innovation Award Winner Rob Sands (CEO Constellation Brands) and Lifetime Leadership Award winner Robert Harmelin (EVP, Allied Beverage Group), among others.

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Posted by on in May 2018 Editions

Rose

Soaring demand meets explosive supply with a Provençal twist

 By W. R. Tish


For a category that represents less than 5% of the overall table wine market in the U.S., rosé has taken on extraordinarily high visibility, spilling over into pop culture and social media—in turn strengthening the trend.

Pardon the pun, but the outlook for rosé is still rosy, right? The category’s double-digit growth just begins to hint at the pink success story. Over the past four years, rosé has almost quadrupled in volume and jumped in varietal wine rank from #17 to #9, according to Nielsen. Rosé’s largest segment is $11-$15, so premiumization is already at play. Plus, consumption is still accelerating. Americans drank 67% more rosé in 2017 than they did in 2016, and that year was up by 44% over 2015.

Beyond stats, this pale pink liquid has grabbed America by the buds, delivering fruity refreshment with an aesthetic (read Instagrammable) bonus. Rosé has joined the broader culture—from sweatpants to fashion shows, gummies to wedding favors—lending its pink halo to rosé cocktails, cider and spirits; inspiring social media hashtags à la #brosé and #yeswayrosé; even prompting marketers in other arenas to go pink when propping wine.

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Slushies and such are all grown-up, thanks to technology, creativity…and rosé.  Of all the beverage types that joined in the contemporary cocktail revolution, frozen drinks were left wallflowers, uninvited to the cool kids’ table.  Outside of Tiki, which has always welcomed the qualities that frozen offers, it was a style mostly left to chains churning out schooners of fruit-laced Margaritas and Daiquiris. In the past couple of years, creative cocktail makers with a well-developed sense of fun took advantage of equipment and ingredient evolution to whip up tasty adult treats.

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Posted by on in May 2018 Editions

In a Post-Juniper Era, The Spirit is Flexing Its Muscle—and Style

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By Amanda Schuster


Many Americans still associate the category with bracing, herbaceous expressions traditionally associated with the designation London Dry. But that reputation deserves to be retired. Juniper, of course, is the defining botanical in all gin, but it has come to be handled more palatably than ever, even in bang-for-buck brands like Burnett’s and New Amsterdam. And a boomlet of new ventures shows there is much room for play in creating other vibrant, complex flavor profiles from alternative ingredients. For those looking beyond the typical dry expressions, here’s how some brands have rethought gin.

Exotic Gin

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Posted by on in April 2018 Editions

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

By Jeff Siegel 


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

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

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

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

By Jack Robertiello


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

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

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

 By Jeff Cioletti


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

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Posted by on in March 2018 Editions

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

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

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

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

By Jack Robertiello


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

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

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

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Posted by on in February 2018 Editions

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

By Kristen Bieler


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

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

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

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

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

By Jack Robertiello


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

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Posted by on in January 2018 Editions

Somms Serve Tips on Adjusting a Wine Program for Winter Months

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By Marika Vida and Patricia Savoie


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

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

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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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