Drinkhacker Reads – 02.19.2015 – Beam Heads To Handcrafted Court

Screen shot 2015-02-19 at 12.01.06 PMWhat’s in a name? Apparently quite a bit when it comes to lawyers looking to cash in on a claim. Jim Beam joins labelmate Maker’s Mark along with Angel’s Envy, Tito’s Vodka, and Templeton Rye as the latest class action complaint filed against spirits makers claiming products to be “handmade” or “handcrafted.” Plaintiff Scott Welk alleges that Beam Suntory “duped him into paying a premium price for a product whose production resembles “a modern day assembly line involving little to no human supervision, assistance or involvement.”

The filing (which we have here in PDF form) also states in somewhat hyperbolic fashion that Beam is “immoral, unethical, oppressive, unscrupulous and/or substantially injurious.” But it’s not all bad news over in Beam-Suntory land: a recent report over at Shanken claims the company’s sales rose 40% with last year’s acquisition. [Lexington Herald Leader]

Keeping up with its commitment to acquire, innovate, and please Pumpkin Peach ale drinkers, Budweiser is reviving a recipe that’s been dormant for decades. Faust beer is currently available only in St. Louis, but a nationwide rollout is slated for this year, presumably right after the roll out for MixxTail . [Good Beer Hunting]

Similar in spirit to Bud’s anti-craft message comes this gem from Pernod Ricard’s new CEO, Alexander Ricard, is wasting no time in taking shots at the craft industry. He’s also not shy about his goal to take Diageo down a notch or two and position Pernod as the world’s #1 non-craft spirits company. [FT]

And finally today in science news: science and health publisher BMJ is now stating that past studies may have exaggerated the benefits of alcohol, and spending long amounts of time on Facebook makes you drink more. This would be as good a time as any to remind everyone that we’re over on Twitter: @drinkhacker.  [Business Insider]

Drinkhacker Reads – 02.17.2015 – 1792 Gets Upgraded For 2015

1792-bottle-smAnother day, another makeover: this time we see Barton’s 1792 expression getting an overhaul on the packaging and marketing, resembling something heavily influenced by early 20th century/Art Deco aesthetic. While we’re assured that the ingredients inside haven’t changed, this is also the kick off to a campaign featuring new varieties of 1792 including Single Barrel, Barrel Strength, High Rye, and Sweet Wheat somewhere in the not too distant future. Barton has also updated its website to reflect the new campaign. [1792]

The Wall Street Journal‘s Lettie Teague takes on ten myths commonly told in the wine world and attempts to find the truth behind each one. Veteran vino drinkers won’t find anything new here, but folks new to wine may find this article useful to keep in mind while looking for their next bottle at a shop. Elsewhere, Business Insider tells us about the 9 types of wine we really ought to be drinking. [WSJ]

Bourbonr reports on the arrival of new 17 year old Wild Turkey. “Master’s Keep” comes in at a paltry 86.8 proof, with some cryptic notes on the label and the bold slogan “crafted with conviction.” No word on release date yet, nor price tag. [Bourbonr]

Got C$140,000 to spare? If so, Dalmore’s got your next investment ready to roll! The Spirits Business is reporting that the Signature Liquor Store in Vancouver has a set of four single malts ranging from 42 to 46 years in age for sale starting today. By comparison, it is important to keep in mind that C$140,000 was the last going price for the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey franchise. Oh, Canada! [The Spirits Business]

And finally today, our pals over Winebags.com do a heck of a job with their Vine Daily columns, and this infographic detailing how the world’s alcohol is made is simply outstanding. Worth pouring a glass of your favorite and studying over a long period of time. [The Daily Vine]

Drinkhacker Reads – 02.11.2015 – Budweiser Branches Out, Hilhaven Sues Heaven Hill

BudLightMixxtailBudweiser, that firm pillar of macrobrewing, is pleased as punch to announce a new product extension under the Bud Light umbrella. The Mixxtail series of pre-made cocktails will make its debut next week in Firewalker, Hurricane, and Long Island flavors. Not to be confused with the Straw-Ber-Rita, Mang-O-Rita and Raz-Ber-Rita macro cocktails it also makes. [STL Today]

In other Bud news, its now infamous TV ad has sparked up vigorous and frothy ire in the halls of Congress. Not really known for its rapid work output, collaborative spirit or can-do attitude, our national legislators surprisingly stood tall and valiantly defended our right to sip Pumpkin Peach Ale. [The Daily Beast]

In less “Bud”dy -like news… Hollywood director Brett Ratner is suing Heaven Hill Distilleries (which filled its 7th millionth barrel in a ceremony held yesterday) for allegedly trying to block his future plans in delivering a premium whiskey to market with Diageo. Ratner’s Hilhaven would be distilled in partnership with Diageo, and Heaven Hill is attempting to block Johnnie Walker Blue Label Year of the Ramit due to the two names being so similar. Ratner has now counter filed, alleging that consumers would simply associate the name with his house (Hilhaven Lodge) and the lavish parties he’s known for throwing at the estate. [The Spirits Business]

And finally today, Diageo is preparing its second special edition of Johnnie Walker Blue celebrating the lunar new year. Blue Label Year of The Ram will be in limited offering at a price of $260 for a 750ml. bottle. And apparently if you put four bottles side by side a Chinese scroll painting will appear. No word on what happens when you sync up your drinking with The Wizard of Oz and Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side Of The Moon.”

Drinkhacker Reads – 02.05.2015 – Short Barley, Cheap Vodka and Big Bourbon

While everyone is still foaming at the glass about the recent Budweiser brew-ha-ha, a small article published in USA Today has passed by with relatively little fanfare that has a direct impact on brewers big and small: there’s a barley shortage looming. [USA Today]

So now we’ve got too much demand for barley for beer, and we’re supposedly (but not really) in the midst of a bourbon shortage, but it seems as if there’s an abundance of vodka (both flavored and unflavored) ready for the taking. And if you’re in Russia, it’s now available at cheaper prices! [CNBC]

The Distilled Spirits Council released its 2014 annual report, with great news for the Bourbon and American whiskey industry: We’re doing great! DISCUS Chief Economist David Ozgo reported on Tuesday that Bourbon and Tennessee Whiskey sales volumes were up 7.4% over last year, bringing in an extra $2.7 billion in revenue. Irish Whiskey and Single Malts grew 9.1% and 4.6% respectively. While flavored vodka sales saw a decline, traditional vodka volumes increased 3.7%.

Get ready Baltimore: Drizly launches here on Thursday. The alcohol delivery app will be working with local stores to bring the best booze right to your doorstep. [Baltimore Magazine]

Glenrothes 1968And finally today, Glenrothes is readying an expression from 1968 which will be available in March to world travelers, specifically those in Singapore. The single cask is housed in a handmade crystal bottle made by a Portuguese craftsman and will set you back £5,500. Failing a sellout in Singapore, a worldwide release is planned for later this year.

Drinkhacker Reads – 02.03.2015 – Buffalo Trace’s Single Oak Project Reaches A Finale, Finally

The experiment known as the Single Oak Project will at last be reaching its conclusion after sixteen rounds and 192 barrels of bourbon. This final round will focus on number four char level barrels and stave seasoning of six months. The rest of the variables (recipes, entry proof, and grain size) will change. As of last tally, barrels 82, 109, and 111 were all in the lead, and if you haven’t already, you can cast your vote on the project’s website. Check out our thoughts on the project thus far. [Single Oak Project]

In other news, three days out and people are still up in arms over Budweiser’s Super Bowl ad taking a shot at craft beer drinkers. Bud’s VP has now come out saying there was “no offense” intended, but it seems hard to take the jab on the chin any other way.

Should the definition of Tennessee whiskey should be expanded? This surprisingly articulate article from Jackyl’s lead singer/chainsaw player Jesse James Dupree makes a compelling argument for the case. [The Tennessean]

And finally, today the Spirits Business takes a look back at ten of the most definitive moments in the history of Scotch. It’s a solid (and brief) lesson that serves as an introduction, but also whets the curiosity enough to dig deeper into the spirit’s history for more interesting tales. [Spirits Business]

Drinkhacker Reads – 01.29.2015 – Craft Beer Made From Sewage Water: The New Trend

A company in Oregon wants to make craft beer out of recycled wastewater. There’s certainly an argument that this is not innovative, as a few craft breweries are already unintentionally engaging in this process. [NPR]

The demand for Japanese whisky is still hot with no signs of slowing down. The Spirits Business reports that a recent Hong Kong auction far exceeded earlier sales estimates, with the Ichiro’s Playing Card series attracting considerable interest. [The Spirits Business]

Good news for winemakers: Shipments were up in 2014 both domestically and internationally. The Wall Street Journal takes a look at where all of this wine is being shipped to and consumed.

In science news, researchers have found that moderate alcohol consumption can reduce the risk of heart failure but significantly increases your chance in developing cirrhosis. Compounds found in beer could potentially fend off Parkinson’s Disease, and alcohol consumption before bed alters sleep patterns. Wired magazine (and Drinkhacker boss Christopher Null) puts five different wine stain removers through the paces. In science fiction news, io9 takes a look at the worst liquors in all of explored space.

Drinkhacker Reads – 01.26.2015 – Eddie Russell Promoted to Master Distiller at Wild Turkey

image003Congrats to Wild Turkey’s Eddie Russell, who has been promoted to work alongside his father Jimmy as Master Distiller. Eddie’s been at the distillery for 34 years, working every position imaginable at the distillery. But it wasn’t through nepotism that he won the job. In fact, in an open letter to the press this morning, Jimmy admitted that he “made him do every job there was, even cutting the grass, so the other employees wouldn’t think I was showing him favoritism. I was probably a lot harder on him than I needed to be, but it was all to help him get to this very special moment today.”

Eddie’s wasting no time getting to work, with his first creation coming down the pipe later this year, and it’s one that Jimmy believes is one of the finest he’s ever tasted. There’s also a new Russell’s Reserve in the works for later this year as well. On behalf of everyone here at Drinkhacker, a raise of the glass and warmest wishes of good luck!

While there’s a constant onslaught of bourbon shortage news — the latest being Four Roses discontinuing its Single Barrel Limited Edition — the word from Scotland is that there’s a whisky crisis brewing quietly. With import taxes being quite high, distilleries are looking more and more to exports and less to the mainland UK, which would create a scarcity of rare and high end scotches for sale. [Telegraph UK]

In beer news, the Boston Globe files a report on the cult of craft beer drinkers and the lengths they go to in order to secure a bottle of rare and desirable expressions. In other news, Anheuser-Busch is buying up yet another craft brewery. The lucky beneficiary this week: Seattle’s Elysian Brewing. [Boston Globe]

Drinkhacker Reads – 01.21.2015 – New Adventures In Drinking

The paper of record takes on yet another trend taking hold with drinkers: health-conscious drinking. Profiling such drinks as gluten-free beer, lemon juice-beer hybrids, and kombucha tea, it appears this is a trend with legs. [New York Times]

Drinks International surveyed 38 of the top 50 bars in the world and then added another 50 bars voted upon by its academy to find out the best-selling and top-trending brands behind the counter. Lots of usual suspects (Bacardi, Tanqueray, Plantation) at the top, but the inclusion of Del Maguey mezcal as the #1 pick made our ears perk up a bit. A very interesting and unexpected selection. [Drinks International]

JF6A3031_lrKudos to the bourbon wizards at Angel’s Envy, whose latest campaign “Toast The Trees” will donate $10,000 to the Arbor Day Foundation. The donated funds will be used to plant 2,500 white oak trees in the Appalachian Mountains this upcoming spring in areas littered with abandoned mines. Always good to see another company becoming a good steward of the environment. [Angel’s Envy]

With Scotch sales slumping a bit globally, efforts to promote the spirit are starting to shift into a higher gear, especially with Beam Suntory. The Providence Journal talks with Beam reps about getting younger people to try, and like, the peated stuff. [Providence Journal]

In science news: researchers believe that alcohol may actually disrupt sleep instead of improving it, but moderate alcohol consumption can actually reduce the risk of heart failure and potentially aid in reducing alcohol-induced stress.

JinzuAnd finally today, after a few delays, Diageo is ready to introduce a quirky new spirit to market. The gin-sake hybrid Jinzu infused with cherry blossom was the result of a mixologist competition held in 2013, and will retail for about $45 per bottle. [Evening Standard]

Drinkhacker Reads – 01.20.2015 – 100 Cases of Bud Light On The Wall

Rabobank issues their quarterly report with predictions for the global spirits market in 2015. In short: demand for spirits in Europe is moderate, and Scotch is on an export decline, leading Diageo to defer plans to expand production; China’s thirst for luxury items is being quenched, while U.S. and India are showing healthy growth. You can read the whole thing here. [Rabobank]

In other whiskey news, Richard Thomas at Whiskey Reviewer tackles bourbon’s five biggest myths, the Drinks Report covers new packaging innovations for 2015, robbers walked away with over $100,000 in rare whiskeys in Montreal, Travel and Leisure magazine lists its favorite whiskey bars in America, and JR Revelry (review forthcoming) becomes the first bourbon on the market owned by a Latino businessman.

A new report from the USDA finds that craft brewers can use up to four times as much barley per barrel of beer than their mega-conglomerate counterparts. Totally unrelated but still kind of cool: German firefighters have built a life-sized fire engine from over 4,700 beer crates.[Mother Jones]

And finally today, a new mobile app has the capability to deliver up to 100 cases of Bud Light to your doorstep within an hour. Forgoing the question of why someone would want 100 cases is the question of why on earth this app was developed in the first place. [Bustle]

Drinkhacker Reads – 01.14.2015 – Pappy and Beer Lawsuits; DISCUS Disses

Members of a family-run liquor store in Northern Kentucky are currently in court pitted against one another. At stake is an estimated $234,000 worth of rare bourbon allegedly taken without authorization. The troubled Cork ‘N Bottle could benefit greatly from the sale of the stock, as the store has been in dire financial straits as of late. We’ll see how this plays out in Federal court. [BizJournals]

Another day, another beer lawsuit: this time we see Lagunitas Brewing taking Sierra Nevada to court over the design of its IPA label. We’re not sure if this one is going to hold up in court for Lagunitas. The fonts aren’t exactly similar, nor are the colors, background, text or really not much else. [Inside Scoop SF]

Geoff Kleinman posts a rather interesting op-ed of DISCUS, the distilled spirits council’s governing body, and its lack of watchdog tenacity over the industry as of late. Well argued and written, its definitely a must read for anyone who enjoys the “inside baseball” aspect of the spirits world. [DrinkSpirits]

In science news, researchers have found that working more than 48 hours a week increases the risk of alcohol abuse, learned that alcohol is essential for relaxation, and have tested a new hormone therapy to curb the desire for alcohol consumption.

Congrats to the folks over at Buffalo Trace, whose visitor center welcomed a record 123,331 visitors in 2014, a 26 percent increase over 2013. Since the end of 2009, the distillery has enjoyed a 145 per cent growth in visitors. Kudos also to Allison Widdecombe of Denver, who won the 2015 edition of 2015 Woodford Reserve’s Manhattan Experience competition. Her winning recipe? We’ve got it right here:

Proven Perfect
2 oz. Woodford Reserve
.5 oz. Oolong Tea-Infused Ruby Port
.5 oz. Cardamom-Infused Amèr Nouvelle
.5 bar spoon of Fernet Branca

Combine ingredients over ice in mixing glass and stir. Strain them into a cocktail glass, and garnish with an expressed lemon twist.

And finally today, we received an email from a Marriott Hotel rep asking us to promote its Renaissance Hotels #BarBrag Cocktail Challenge. Simply enter your cocktail at the contest site and be entered to win. Three finalists will be selected and flown to Washington, D.C. for an in-person competition on Friday, February 13th. Good luck! [Bar Brag]