Category Archives: News

Drinkhacker Reads – 02.24.2014 – Red Rockers, Dead Rockers and Irish Folk Songs

Here’s one of the weirder celebrity endorsements we’ve seen in a bit: according to the anonymous press officer from Proximo Spirits, “Fans of Elvis Presley know how much his ‘Hawaii’ years molded him into the superstar icon he is today.” Which gives us pause, considering his early years seem to weigh more iconically on the walls of Cracker Barrel gift shops than the Hawaii years, but that’s for hardcore fans to debate. Nevertheless, Three Olives vodka is issuing a “coconut water” flavored vodka in tribute to The King. Why this $21 flavored vodka is “coconut water” as opposed to simply “coconut” is also a bit of a head scratcher. Maybe the company could shed some light on this matter. [via press release]

In other head scratching news, geriatric rocker Sammy Hagar was once synonymous with his long time love of tequila. Long before other heavy metal stars fashioned their own tequila lines, the former Montrose singer was crooning ballads professing his love for the spirit. According to Gawker, he’s now switching teams and hawking rum as his spirit of choice. We’ve reviewed one expression of Sammy’s rum to date; another is coming up. [Gawker]

Forbes profiles the latest trend in craft winemaking: using ancient amphorae as opposed to barrels. [Forbes]

Keeping with its trend of nice looking, easy to read infographics, Quartz offers its  latest update profile of where the world’s biggest vodka drinkers are located. [Quartz]

The Independent is reporting that thieves have stolen almost $30,000 worth of Bombay Sapphire from a truck in Northhamptonshire, UK last week. Authorities are asking that anyone offered cheap, large quantities of the gin to contact local authorities immediately. [Independent UK]

The Guardian UK takes a survey of beers endorsed/branded by UK rock stars, and picks the best of the bunch. [Guardian]

And finally today, in what has to be the most Irish advertisement most Americans will see all year, Tullamore Dew has supplied us with a gorgeously shot ad with a twist worthy of one of Joyce’s Dubliners short stories. The inclusion of the traditional Irish song “A Parting Glass” aids in telling the (short) story of four friends sending one of their own off with a fond farewell. It’s stark, dignified, and wonderfully Celtic through and through.

Drinkhacker Reads – 02.17.2014 – False Spirits, Good Grapes and Mixed Messages

The Spirits Business is reporting that $17 million worth of counterfeit spirits were confiscated in December and January as part of a joint multi-national law enforcement operation cracking down on the practice. The operation also saw close to 100 people arrested or detained for their participation in this growing crime. [The Spirits Business]

Good news for wine drinkers: this year’s grape harvest is reported to be one for the record books. After shorter crops in recent years, this year’s crop looks to be healthy and plentiful, thanks in part to favorable weather conditions and larger acreage under vine. [ABC News]

In mixed media messages news: On the same day the Herald-Sun is reporting that Spain is experiencing a Gin and Tonic renaissance, other outlets are posting that the Gin boom in Spain is over. Bear in mind these articles were published within hours of one another.

And finally today, Berkshire Mountain Distillers is set to partner with 10 microbreweries around the nation to release limited edition bourbons finished in beer barrels. The releases will arrive in regions starting next month and will range in price from $43 to $60 and include such favorites as Founder’s, Full Sail, Ommegang and Terrapin. BevNet has the lowdown on the other brews, along with descriptions and anticipated release dates. [BevNet]

Drinkhacker Reads – 02.12.2014 – Product Launches And Revamps Day

Aberlour is getting ready to launch a global rebranding initiative of its product line. The Pernod-owned single malt has refreshed its logo and is planning an aggressive social media campaign, led with the tagline “Made From Experience.” No word on which supermodel or actress they’re recruiting as a spokesperson. [Just Drinks]

In other product launch news, Beam-owned 2 Gingers Irish Whiskey is getting ready to roll out nationwide. Originally only available in Minnesota (…), 2 Gingers was acquired by Beam in late 2012 to expand its Irish portfolio and has slowly increased its distribution since the acquisition. We had a review of it almost exactly to this date last year, and gave it fairly strong marks. No word on whether or not its recipe/profile has changed since then. [Marketwatch]

Peat and smoke fans rejoice! Islay is getting another new distillery. The Daily Mail (not exactly the most reliable source at times) reports that construction on the Gartbreck distillery in Lochindaal will start immediately with the hopes of being online by the end of this year. Lochindaal is no stranger to distilleries, having had one in the past few centuries. [Daily Mail]

And finally today, in a bold marketing move, Molson has installed a beer fridge in the middle of the Olympic village in Sochi. However, there’s a hitch: an athlete must have a Canadian passport in order to open it and help themselves. Oh, Canada! [People]

Drinkhacker Reads – 02.10.2014

If you can’t beat ‘em, buy ‘em: the paper of record is reporting that Anheuser-Busch InBev waved some cash, made it rain, and purchased microbrewer Blue Point Brewing Company. While details of the acquisition of the Long Island brewery were not disclosed, it is expected to be a done deal by the end of this quarter. [NY Times]

In other acquisition news, billionare Russian Roustam Tariko is rumored to be putting together a package to take over multi-spirit mega overlords Diageo. Bloomberg reports that Tariko is looking to make that happen sooner than later. Hopefully this takeover won’t be as surreal or messy as the living conditions at the Sochi Olympics. [Bloomberg]

Flipping over to the blog side of things: in a surprising turn of the events over the weekend, author and Bourbon authority Chuck Cowdery posted what could be be described as a “cryptic digital temper tantrum” or a “warning shot” at… someone? Something? We’re not exactly sure who or what. While we normally don’t give credence to something like this in the Reads section, Chuck’s reputation as a top-tier spirits writer gives him a bit more leeway than others… and therefore makes it a compelling read, even in its ambiguity. Here’s hoping he stones up and starts naming names. [Chuck Cowdery]

And finally today in other bourbon news: an excellent long form read detailing the history of the historic Stitzel-Weller distillery, supplemented with an expansive tasting on a variety of Old Fitzgeralds from over the decades. This is a superb piece of scholarship and worthy of anyone wishing to know more about the distillery’s storied history. Kudos to Josh over a Coopered Tot for an excellent article. Pour a glass of your favorite Fitz and enjoy! [Coopered Tot]

Drinkhacker Reads – 02.05.2014 – Bourbon Tops $1 Billion; Beer Bots Baffle

In a press release sent yesterday afternoon, the Distilled Spirits Council (DISCUS) announced that American distilled spirits broke previous records in 2013 by crossing the $1.5 billion threshold, driven largely by bourbon and Tennessee whiskey, which broke the $1 billion sales mark for the first time.

According to Council Senior Vice President for International Trade Christine LoCascio, projected Bourbon and Tennessee Whiskey exports overall grew 5.0% from $956.8 million in 2012 to $1.005 billion in 2013, an increase of approximately $50 million.

The projected top six 2013 growth markets for all American distilled spirits by dollar value were Japan (up $22.7 million to $120.8 million), Germany (up $19.6 million to $140.1 million), France (up $14.5 million to $130.5 million), U.K. (up $8.8 million to $159.6 million), Spain (up $6.5 million to $69.8 million) and Panama (up $5.8 million to $11.6 million). The projected top 2013 markets by growth percentage were Nigeria (up 475.5% to $5.0 million), Panama (up 99.0% to $11.6 million), Greece (up 72.5% to $9.2 million), Georgia (up 47.6% to $6.0 million), China (up 40.4% to $11.8 million) and Belgium (up 33.6% to $18.3 million).

The full stack of presentation slides is available for download.

Elsewhere in business news, information powerhouse Just Drinks is reporting that the flavored vodka trend is (finally) sputtering and losing momentum, only gaining a 5.6% increase in sales in 2013, down from 9% in 2010. However, this isn’t stopping companies from introducing new products. 2013 had 50 new flavored vodka launches, a minor increase of 12% from 2012 but a sharp contrast from the 110% growth between 2011 and 2012. [Just Drinks] (Side note: BevNet reports Skyy will introduce two new vodka flavors this month: Georgia Peach and Vanilla Bean.)

Another day, another listicle: this time courtesy of the Spirits Business, which offers up its take on the top ten spirits brand makeovers of recent years. [The Spirits Business]

Finally, researchers in Spain have developed an “electronic tongue” able to identify brands of beer with an incredible accuracy rate of 81.9%. In the study, the scientists claim these bots could potentially replace human beings as a method to maintain quality control and consistency of products. No word on whether this “tongue” can replicate similar rates of success with wine or spirits. [Kurzweil AI]

Drinkhacker Reads – 02.03.2014 – Booker’s 25th Anniversary Edition

Beam will be celebrating 25 years of its excellent Booker’s bourbon with a 9 to 11 year old uncut unfiltered goodness in a limited run. Bottles will be shipping soon at a price tag of around $100. In its honor, the Beam folks recently did a promo video interviewing the Noe family, and the importance of this bottling.

Elsewhere in Beam news, Shanken is reporting that its biggest shareholder, Bill Ackman of Pershing Square Capital, has reduced his stake in the company from 13 to 8%, unloading about half a billion worth in shares in advance of the closing of the Suntory deal. [Shanken News Daily]

Science has finally come through with some compelling evidence to answer the age-old question: “Which nation parties the hardest?” Quartz is reporting that the citizens of South Korea drink twice as much liquor per week than Russians and four times as much as the average American. [Quartz]

And finally today, the Federal Aviation Administration has ruled that beer delivery by drone is illegal, thereby crushing the hopes and dreams of folks in Washington and Colorado of a future where booze and weed are delivered by airborne robot to their door. [Atlanta Journal]

Drinkhacker Reads – 01.29.2014 – Miller Makes Bourbon Beer, Mila Beams Up

miller fortune 150x150 Drinkhacker Reads   01.29.2014   Miller Makes Bourbon Beer, Mila Beams Up Bourbon-finished beer is certainly nothing new on the market. In fact it’s been around commercially for well over a decade. So it comes as no surprise that the big boys are finally getting into the game, starting with Miller. Miller Fortune, as it has been christened, is a “spirited golden lager” that’s been bourbon-flavored and which will retail for about $6.99 per six pack, and will be arriving at your favorite watering hole shortly. In a mildly amusing marketing move, Miller reps are asking bartenders to serve the beer in cocktail glasses. This may prove to be a smart move after the fourth or fifth “cocktail” to forget one is drinking a Miller product. Jury’s still out, and we’re curious as to how this one will taste. (Photo: Miller Fortune) [Business Insider]

Step aside Kid Rock: Mila Kunis has signed on to become Beam’s global spokesperson. The lead actress in such classic direct-to-video films as Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves and American Psycho 2 will be the face of Beam in an expansive multi-platform media campaign urging people to “make history”. [Emag]

Hopslammed reports allegations that an Ohio retailer purchased another retailer’s stock of Bell’s Hopslam (which by the way, is excellent and doesn’t need a cocktail glass gimmick to back up its quality) with the intent of reselling it. Bell’s reps and state officials are looking into the matter, which we all know is a big, bonafide “no-no”. [Hopslammed]

As a postscript to the lead blurb, The Full Pint is reporting that Full Sail’s Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout will be released in early February. Last year’s batch was exceptional, and we’re confident that this year’s will continue in that tradition. [Full Pint]

UPDATE 1/31/14: We’ve recently received a transmission from MillerCoors HQ stating the following regarding the Bloomberg article linked above:

“Miller Fortune is an exciting new beer with a 6.9% ABV. It features a rich golden color, brewed with caramel malt and cascade hops to achieve layers of flavor and a distinctly smooth finish. Our beer was brewed to deliver the complexity and depth that appeals to spirit drinkers. Spirit inspired…yes. Spirit infused…no. As many of you know, the beer industry as a whole has lost seven share points to spirits (five) and wine (two) in the last 10 years. Miller Fortune was created to fight against these losses and take back legal-drinking age spirits drinkers/occasions. So, you can say it has been inspired by the success of spirits competition and it is a darker beer that may look more bourbon-like in a glass.” – Jonathan Stern, Director of Media Relations, MillerCoors

So it is indeed NOT a beer that tastes like a bourbon. Just inspired by one. Either way, we look forward to reviewing it.

Drinkhacker Reads – 01.27.2014 – Diageo Aiming For Brown Forman?

With the Suntory-Beam saga fading out of the spotlight (for now), the buzz is leaning towards another potential acquisition. The rumor mill is once again abuzz with Diageo setting its sights on acquiring Brown Forman, owner of such beloved brands as Jack Daniel’s and Woodford Reserve. The Guardian interviewed a researcher of equity wealth who speculated the merger would be simply swell for all involved. Meanwhile, the blogging bard of Bourbon Truth dipped deep into the documents from a recent Diageo investors meeting to unearth some potentially profound predictions regarding Diageo’s future. This could get interesting. [Bourbon Truth]

Data company Survey Analytics recently polled hundreds of people in 42 states to investigate recent beer trends. The results?

Average consumer spends more than $1,200 a year on beer – The highest reported amount was $10,000 while the lowest was just $100. Twenty-two percent of consumers buy and drink beer two to three times a week while 20 percent imbibe just once a week and 9 percent pop open a bottle more than five times per week.

Budweiser is a polarizing brand – The King of Beers managed to top the charts in both the best and worst brands of beer. Fifty-one percent of people rated it as their favorite while 46 percent named it their least favorite. Other brands that rounded out the best list: Coors (13 percent), Corona (12 percent) and Stella (10 percent).

Only 5 percent of consumers use price to determine favorite breweries – What did they base their favorite brand on? Who has the best ads (32 percent), where the beer is brewed (29 percent) and what style of beer the brand makes (22 percent).

Craft beer and home-brewing trends continue to grow – Fourteen percent of people surveyed had brewed their own beer at home and enjoyed it while 68 percent are interested in taking craft brewing lessons from their favorite craft brands such as Dogfish Head and Breckenridge Brewery.

Most of these conclusions could be read and considered with a resounding “duh” by beer snobs, but if there’s one thing Survey Analytics accomplished, it shows we’re still divided as a nation between our megabrands and our microbrews. [Survey Analytics]

In other analysis news, The Drinks Business profiles what it believes to be the big emerging trends in wine drinking in 2014. Amongst the topics covered: supply and demand, discovery, communication and big data, and Millennials (aka the people who like Macklemore). [The Drinks Business]

Over in the science world: Gizmodo hosts a video teaching how to perfect your beer pour in 5 steps, the Daily Camera shows how Avery Brewing is working with Colorado University’s biotech lab to improve quality control, and a university professor at Oregon State explains why some beer drinkers like hops so much.

Finally today, a crossover post from our sister site Film Racket, here’s a listicle of the Top Ten Films About Drinking, courtesy of Bill Gilbron. Did he miss any? Drop us a line in the comments! [Film Racket]

Drinkhacker Reads – 01.23.2014 – Beam Investor Sues Over Takeover

As previously speculated, all is not going to swell in the Beam-Suntory transition land. Bloomberg is now reporting that an investor is filing suit against Beam alleging the transaction undervalues the company. The suit is being spearheaded by Beam’s largest shareholder, hedge fund manager Bill Ackman, who lost a pretty hefty sum recently with investments involving JC Penney and Herbalife. Attorneys for Ackman argue the suit is baseless and without merit. This could get ugly. [Bloomberg]

After an 80-year absence on the market, Dunville Irish Whiskey is making its return. The relaunch comes courtesy of Echlinville Distillery, which received an all-systems-go clearance to distill last year. Some very limited shipments are currently making their way to key markets in the U.S., Europe, and the UK, with a wider release being planned in subsequent years. [Irish Times]

Jelly Belly has introduced a new flavor we’ve all been craving: beer. The company will be launching an ale flavor resembling a Hefeweizen, which will be in stores sometime this year. The process to perfect this taste? Three years in the making. Let’s see if we can score a bag and find out if they’re worth the wait. [CBC]

And finally today: researchers in Spain are using high-def slow motion cameras to figure out why beer foams up. Now if they can only figure out why people are so attracted to the Kardashian family, flavored vodkas, and Mumford and Sons. [The Guardian]

Drinkhacker Reads – 01.20.2014 – Macallan Sets Record For World’s Most Expensive Scotch

MacallanM 300x300 Drinkhacker Reads   01.20.2014   Macallan Sets Record For Worlds Most Expensive Scotch If there were any signs that the whiskey market was potentially heading towards a bubble burst, yesterday’s record-breaking auction at Sotheby’s Hong Kong would surely be a leading indicator. The bottle of Macallan M sold at an auction on Saturday for $631,850, setting a new world record for most expensive whiskey ever. We’re quite pleased to say we’ve got two here in the office unopened, and we’re willing to trade a bottle with the folks for a Pappy van Winkle or two. Stop on by. [Complex]

In science news, researchers at the University of Oregon published a study declaring that a moderate amount of alcohol can actually help strengthen the immune system, thus validating several centuries of old wives’ tales and the phenomenon that is the Hot Toddy. [Daily Mirror]

Elsewhere in science-related news, The Atlantic continues its in-depth look at the process of spirit making with a profile of the recent string of fermentation science programs popping up at universities around the nation. While critics may scoff at such programs and dismiss them with a flippant, off-handed comment about how students are just looking for another excuse to drink, we here at Drinkhacker think of them pursuing a noble cause. A+ [The Atlantic]

Meanwhile, The Atlantic’s sister site Quartz breaks down the world’s whiskey consumption using infographics. Good stuff for finding out where all those bottles are going, and where they’ll most likely be heading in the future. [QZ]

And finally today, Gizmodo compiles some of the weirdest spirits packaging on the market. We’re not exactly sure weird or cool would be the right adjective to describe some of these, but beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder. [Gizmodo]

Drinkhacker Reads – 01.16.2014 – Conan O’Brien: Beam Spokesman?

Not everyone is taking the Beam-Suntory merger so hard. In fact, there are several who stand to gain from such an alliance. One fellow who is trying is hardest to make his enthusiasm known is America’s favorite TBS Late Night Host, Conan O’Brien:

No word yet from Beam execs as to whether or not they’re interested.

In less classy news, Brown-Forman has taken to the internet to proudly exhibit their social media director’s poor grasp of global economics in a hysterical display of American exceptionalism by proclaiming to be “American Owned.” Hysterical coming from another company and owning brands beyond American borders. As the kids say, “epic fail” Brown-Forman. [WDRB]

However, if you’re really needing to figure out exactly which brands to boycott, here’s a handy chart courtesy of NPR’s Marketplace as to who owns what (though it’s missing a few big brands and their owners, including Campari-Wild Turkey). [NPR]

Elsewhere in the Beamosphere: Bloomberg profiles the potential risk of Suntory’s purchase, The New Yorker chimes in with its “thinkpiece,” and Forbes delves into the lack of details bondholders have been afforded throughout the week.

Elsewhere in the drinkosphere: Diageo is planning a £30M expansion of its Clynelish distillery, Diddy and Diageo (Diddageo?) (Diaggy?) are gearing up for a head-on celebrity tequila marketing battle with Justin Timberlake and Beam (Justin Beamory?), and the robot bartender (HAL Malone?)is being readied for launch shortly.

And finally today, the Smithsonian chimes in with its complete guide to hangovers. Not sure how many more times this story can be rewritten, but this one is thoroughly researched yet accessible and heavily linked with external information. [Smithsonian]

A Pro-Suntory Argument for the Consideration of the Anti-Beam Acquisition Crowd

SpecialComment 300x300 A Pro Suntory Argument for the Consideration of the Anti Beam Acquisition Crowd

Perhaps the most troublesome trend from the announcement of Suntory’s potential purchase of Beam yesterday is the stench emanating from that petri dish of democracy, the anonymous reactionary commenter festering in pockets of news web portals and its hydra-headed cousin, social media. Some of the contributions have been a bit disturbing and mildly ill-informed. In the efforts of providing a counter-argument, let’s take some of these ire-filled declarations from the chorus and consider them for a moment.

1.“This is the economic equivalent of Pearl Harbor” or: “This is the continued march of Socialism across the country”

The latter was heard on afternoon drive talk radio here in my old Kentucky home. It was tempting to take the bait and call in and inform the dear host that Japan really isn’t too keen on socialism, and that
his geography compass was off the marker by a few degrees/nations.

Beam jobs in Kentucky are relatively safe. At least for now, they’re not going anywhere. Beam Global has too much invested in the state – historically and economically – to just jump ship to Japan or
Connecticut. The distilleries are here, the logistics are here, the know-how is here, and the product is here. For those worried jobs will be shifted overseas? Remember one of the golden rules: in order for a spirit to be legally christened bourbon, it must be made right here on our fruited plains. This is something most of the established world has acknowledged and agreed to comply with.

From the always excellent Scotch and Ice Cream:

“The reality is that this is one of those moments where you’re forced to see that there can be sides to unfettered capitalism that aren’t necessarily going to align with your personal values and morals. Beam will have to be made in the United States to still be bourbon (and let’s not kid ourselves: Jim beam is bourbon for many people) which means that the more blue-collar production jobs probably aren’t going anywhere. Corporate structure in Deerfield IL may see a slimdown though. But there’s this fiction that people are selling themselves that is patently untrue – that Beam was somehow some sort of small, mom & pop cooperative and the benefits of Beam’s profits were seen in a big way by the average worker. The largest shareholders were institutional investors – Wall Street. Insider holdings of BEAM were comparatively small, and in the last two months, insiders sold 328,000 shares and only bought 12000. (27:1). “

For some, this still many not prove to be enough. Consider this: many of the iconic brands we know and love, things commonly thought to be synonymous with America, are no longer made here. So please continue to rant about only buying American made products, on your computer, which was probably not manufactured or assembled in America. Or better yet, do it on your smart phone. When’s the last time you checked on its manufacturing point? It’s the nature of the global economy. This acquisition should come as no surprise to anyone.

2. “The quality of the product will change”

As numerous people will stand up and attest to, Suntory has an excellent track record of premium spirits and like most skillfully crafted things coming from the land of rising sun, there’s a lot of pride in the quality of the products they produce. People reminisce about the good old days when items manufactured in America were made with pride. Those values never left Japan. The quality will continue to be high, if anything to keep from having to deal with a potential PR disasters. Anyone here remember the great Maker’s Mark Proof Switch of ‘13? And speaking of which…

3. “I’m switching and staying with Maker’s Mark”

Sorry, Joe Merica, Maker’s is part of the Beam Empire, and therefore is soon to be owned by Suntory. Try again.

Let’s take a step back for some historical context. Before the current bourbon bubble, before Pappymania and before Bob Ritchie was years away from endorsing Red Stag, the Japanese were already aware of bourbon’s potential both financially and aesthetically. Back in the ’80s the Japanese were quietly investing all over Kentucky: the Toyota North American HQ in Erlanger, KY and a new plant in Georgetown, KY being a prominent example. Japanese investors were involved in Buffalo Trace before it was Buffalo Trace, when people were satisfied with Ancient Age and Blanton’s was in its infancy. They were also in Lawrenceburg, figuring out how to improve and profit on Four Roses.

Again, the honorable Timothy Read from Scotch and Ice Cream:

It’s worth noting that the Four Roses renaissance of the last few years has been under the ownership of Kirin. It’s possible that the [Beam] product will change, and it’s possible the product will change for the better. It’s also possible that there will be a series of export-only bottlings (as you see with Age International’s Blanton’s offerings, as well as Four Roses Platinum) that are intended for a Japanese market. Remember, whisky is huge in Japan, and it’s possible Suntory simply wanted its own bourbon on the shelves alongside Kirin’s.

There’s always the possibility that Suntory will tank the quality of Beam, but it’s silly to jump to that conclusion. It also ignores that Beam has been reducing quality quite well – the Maker’s debacle, dropping proof on Old Grand-Dad and dropping age statements on Basil Hayden’s.

If all of this simply isn’t enough to sway you, then please start sending your bottles of Four Roses, Bulleit, and Wild Turkey over to Drinkhacker HQ. We’ll take them off your hands free of charge so you can remain guilt-free in your patriotic purchases. Because in case you didn’t know: Four Roses is still Japanese-owned, Bulleit is owned by Diageo UK, and Wild Turkey by Italy’s Gruppo Campari. Look out, ye who are filled with fear: we’re just one country away from the Original Axis of Evil reuniting and taking all of the bourbons away from us.

This merger hasn’t happened yet. There are still many hoops to jump through before the deal is sealed. There are numerous things that could derail this transaction. On top of it all: this whole transition
could take months, maybe even a year, before final. It’s still too soon. Anything can still happen, and it just might.

We beg of you: don’t buy into the ridiculous xenophobia certain spirit writers are trying to promote. You’re too smart a consumer to fall prey to such convenient jingoisms. As someone so eloquently put it on Twitter: if you’re not going to buy Beam, do it on taste.

(A very special thanks to Timothy Read from Scotch and Ice Cream for the engaging conversation and much needed dose of inspiration. If you haven’t already, you’d be well served to make his site a daily must-read)

Drinkhacker Reads – 01.13.2014 – Suntory To Acquire Beam For $16 Billion

Screen shot 2014 01 13 at 12.31.17 PM 300x165 Drinkhacker Reads   01.13.2014   Suntory To Acquire Beam For $16 Billion No other story today could possibly dominate headlines in the spirits world like the stunning announcement that Beam Global is going to be acquired by Japanese mega-conglomerate Suntory for a cool $16 billion. Of course, along with this announcement has arrived a plethora of articles using the image of Bill Murray from his portrayal of a Suntory spokesman from the movie Lost In Translation. Let’s dig deeper into this historic acquisition with a bit of context, courtesy of our friends on the web:

Start with a brief history of Suntory, and a brief overview of Beam history. Then check out a Forbes profile on the man behind Suntory, Nobutada Saji.

Crain’s Chicago provides an excellent summary of the acquisition. CNN reports that this could be the second largest acquisition by a Japanese company of an American company in history, and will result in the 3rd largest spirits company in the world.

Who stands to win from this? Big surprise: Investors and shareholders. However, not everyone is happy. BusinessWeek is reporting that the shareholder rights law firm of Johnson & Weaver is already investigating the proposed sale, and whether or not Beam’s board “failed to satisfy their duties to the company’s shareholders.”

There’s some early commentary available, but most is still forthcoming. Here’s a good piece by Louisville’s David Mann about the local implications of the Beam takeover. Bourbon scribe Chuck Cowdery offers up his compulsory op-ed, as does the usually brilliant Shanken. Other than that, the general vibe from most bourbon writers seems to be that it’s simply too soon to tell what the future will hold for Beam after Suntory Time arrives.

No doubt there’ll be much more coming in the next few days. We’ll stay on top of it all and deliver you the best synthesis of analysis possible.

Drinkhacker Reads – 01.08.2014 – Notorious A.B.V.: Diddyageo Acquires DeLeon Tequila

Diddy done at it again! Unsatisfied with his dominance and rebranding of Ciroc, the Puff Diddles has partnered once more with Diageo to acquire DeLeon tequila. While few details of the transaction are available, the partnership has proven profitable for all parties in the past. Ciroc has gone from shipping 50,000 cases to 2 million cases annually in just under six years. It’ll be interesting to see what happens this time around. [BevNet]

Organizers of the Beer Bloggers Conference have taken time to sort through the wide spectrum of static to give us a stronger signal on what they believe to be the 20 most influential beer websites in the world. The results are mildly surprising, with many corporate brand sites dominating the top half. We’re not exactly sure “influential” is the right term to be used here, as its hard to see just how consumers are influenced or compelled to drink a product just from a visit to a web site. Nevertheless, it’s an interesting methodology and fine attempt at developing a picture of the beersphere. [Beer Bloggers Conference]

NPR radio program Here and Now makes an argument that Bourbon makers outside of Kentucky could spark innovation. Because clearly there’s absolutely no innovation happening with bourbon in Kentucky. WARNING: There’s no mention of Pappy Van Winkle here. Like… none. Go home, NPR. You’re drunk. [Here and Now]

Bloomberg Business Week has a great (but quick) interview with Beam figurehead Fred Noe, who is out promoting the new Beam Single Barrel. Fred’s in his usual great and humorous form, and then the interviewer has to go and screw everything up by bringing “PVW” into the conversation. [Business Week]

And finally today, a new study from Denmark suggests that women who drink a glass of wine a day during pregnancy have better, well-behaved children. Now buy me a toy!!! [Express UK]

Drinkhacker Reads – 01.06.2014 – Canadian Beer Company Celebrates Team USA Hockey

USA1980 300x166 Drinkhacker Reads   01.06.2014   Canadian Beer Company Celebrates Team USA HockeyThe massive snowstorm that hit the majority of the nation, the Winter Classic, and now: the Olympics. For hockey fans, this winter simply can not get any better. In celebration of the forthcoming gold medal from Team USA, Canadian brewer Labatt’s has issued a series of commemorative cans celebrating the outstanding tradition of U.S. Hockey throughout the ages. No word on whether or not Labatt’s is commemorating any other countries who may have robbed the U.S. of their gold medal in the last Olympics. [CBS Sports]

With the controversy surrounding a recent Dewar’s television advertisement, one would think the newly announced regulations on alcohol and television advertisements were a positive outcome from the incident. Turns out it’s just coincidence. The Spirits Business reports that the new rules stem from a report on children’s exposure to alcohol advertisements. Their primary objective? To minimize the amount of time little Johnny or Jane is exposed to Captain Morgan, the world’s most interesting man, and other characters. [The Spirits Business]

A recent report from the University of Adelaide has traced which grapes are the most popular around the world for wine. For those who don’t have time to read the entire 35 page report, we’ll sum up the somewhat unsurprising answer: Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are leading the pack, with a few assorted grapes trailing after. [University of Adelaide]

Finally, for those who enjoy the “inside baseball” aspect of beer writing, Brewery History has made its latest issue available online for free. Its subject? None other than one of the best beer writers ever: Michael Jackson. Nine articles on Jackson, his legacy and how his impact still carries on today in digital media. Thanks for the free issue! [Brewery History]

Drinkhacker Reads – 12.18.2013 – On The Matter Of Festivus Poles, Fashion and Alligators

We have seven days until the whole gift-giving thing commences. If you’re without a clue as to what to bring to that holiday party to make that all important impression, why not stop on over at our full color gift guide for some suggestions and solutions? We’re here to help!

Also in keeping with the spirits of the holiday season, a man in Flordia has constructed a Festivus tree in the state capitol building made out of cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon. Needing a brief primer on the origins of Festivus? We’ve got you covered. [NPR]

Festivus has come early for some of us: Shanken News Daily is reporting that Stoli is planning on realigning its product line in 2014, which includes phasing out several of their not-so-in-demand flavored vodkas. Stoli reps are planning on rebranding as a luxury line, which is kind of hard to do when your product line includes salted caramel, chocolate coconut, and jalapeno vodkas. [Shanken News Daily]

Ardbeg inspires multi award winning fashion designer Judy R Clark in n... 300x199 Drinkhacker Reads   12.18.2013   On The Matter Of Festivus Poles, Fashion and AlligatorsHere’s one with a twist: award winning Scottish fashion designer Judy R. Clark has been commissioned by Ardbeg to create a clothing line inspired by the Scotch whisky. The collection will include waistcoats for men and shorts for women, along with matching trousers. Clark also incorporated proprietary Ardbeg tweed into the designs, as well as triple lapels on the waist coats and gold rivets along the collars to reflect the Ardbeg logo. The collection will be worn by lucky employees of the company worldwide at various events.

And finally today, a man in Flordia tries to buy beer by bartering a live alligator. There’s nothing much more we can really add to that. Story just sort of sells itself, really. [NBC News]

Drinkhacker Reads – 12.11.13 – Brit Boozer Boasts Bourbon Bests Barley

(Back to our regularly scheduled formatting…)

millerlite Drinkhacker Reads   12.11.13   Brit Boozer Boasts Bourbon Bests BarleyOld people and retro addicts rejoice! Miller Lite is bringing back its old packaging for a limited time. To help cross promote this historic occasion, several cans of the vintage design will be featured in Anchorman 2, which has seemingly attached itself to literally everything this holiday season. The can will be available on the market starting in January and throughout the spring of 2014.

Speaking of fossils, normally we don’t lend much credence to Jim Murray’s biblical decrees but this time he may be on to something: Bourbon might be surpassing Scottish whisky in quality. Of course this news comes from the Washington Times, and we’re told by incredibly reliable sources (namely: awesome readers of this daily feature) that said paper isn’t exactly a reliable source, so he might have said the opposite. Either way, we wouldn’t be surprised if he actually said both at some point. [Washington Times]

Becky Paskin is no stranger to awesome booze writing, and her profile for the Spirits Business on the insanely astronomical prices folks are paying for Scotch is one of the more engaging reads of the year. Definitely worth the time to read through and daydream about affording some of the beauties profiled. [The Spirits Business]

Whisky Advocate is starting to announce their best picks of 2013, starting today with Few Spirits Rye taking home its Craft Whiskey Of The Year. More selections are on their way this week, none of which will probably as expensive as those in the Spirits Business profile, and (hopefully) in a store near you. [Whisky Advocate]

And finally today, Shanken News is reporting that Four Roses is scaling back production due to a barrel shortage. Industry barrel supplier Independent Stave Company is having problems sourcing American white oak lumber. Instead of enacting company layoffs and a distillery shutdown, Four Roses made the smart move to reduce production for the time being. Stay tuned… [Shanken News Daily]

Drinkhacker Reads – 12.09.2013 – Absurd Upworthy Headline Edition

With the inpouring of luxury goods and spirits into the nation, the Chinese are also slowly developing their own class of whisky connoisseurs. Financial Times examines the emergence of this new class of savvy and sophisticated drinkers. You won’t believe what happens next. Also in the Financial Times: a discussion of rare releases and the constant demand they bring. [Financial Times]

Jason Barber spent years developing a vodka made from cow’s milk. What happens next may blow your mind. [The Guardian UK]

Here is what happens when a man seeks crowd-sourced funding to bring another rum into existence. [Newsday]

Find out what happens when a large tequila company partners with a Russian distribution company to increase profits and market share. The answer may astound and stun your sensibilities. [Beverage Daily]

A Kentucky distiller makes only 273 bottles of its sour mash. Find out the astronomical price these bottles are fetching on the inflated spirits market. [Poughkeepsie Journal]

Click here to discover which famous Will Ferrell character is slated to receive his own expression of Scotch. The answer will not surprise you. At all. [Huffington Post]

Drinkhacker Reads -12.04.2013 – U.S. State Department Spends $180,000 On Alcohol

1 Glenmorangie fans are able to choose from these three label and box designs for Taghta Tuh ta1 525x177 Drinkhacker Reads  12.04.2013   U.S. State Department Spends $180,000 On Alcohol

We’re not big on the compiling of slideshow based listicles, as is the trend these days. However, we’ve come across two that would fit quite snugly under the header of “Weird Whiskey Ideas of 2013.” The first, from Glenmorangie, invites users to decide on the label for its latest in the Cask Masters series, Taghta (Gaelic for “chosen”). Fans can hop on over to the website and vote on their favorite label, all bold and risky choices: yellow and brown, brown and orange, or purplish! [Glenmorangie]

In Beamland, the new “I’m Beam” application also is a bit of a charming headscratcher. Users can download the app to create woodcut-styled portraits similar to those found on the side label of Beam bottles, amongst other knicknacks, including something ambiguously entitled “Beam Family Surprises.” Mmmmmmm… [Jim Beam]

image001 143x300 Drinkhacker Reads  12.04.2013   U.S. State Department Spends $180,000 On Alcohol Coming in January/February to a white dog shelf near you: Dickel No.1, which serves as the base juice for it Nos.8, 12, and Barrel Select editions. It’ll be bottled at about 91 proof and will retail for $21.99 for a 750ml bottle. Look for our review shortly. [Dickel]

Faced with the shutdown this past fall, the State Department racked up a liquor bill of $180,000 in anticipation of its inability to purchase spirits during the brief hiatus. This included a nearly $16,000 whiskey tab in Moscow. Why weren’t we invited? [Washington Times]

Elsewhere in the political/alcohol narrative, Sen. Charles Schumer continues his crusade to cut excise taxes on smaller microbreweries in an effort to… wait for it… help “job creators.” [WSJ]

And finally today, the New Republic asks: Do smart people drink more? We’d like to think so, but that’s just opinion. NR backs that up with the results of several recently published studies. [New Republic]

Drinkhacker Reads – 12.02.2013 – Drinkhacker Gift Guide Goes Color + Sriracha Vodka

No doubt you saw the 2013 edition of our Gift Guide posted last week in between stuffing your faces or fighting the crowds during Whack Friday. But did you know our guide also comes as a full color PDF, complete with full reviews and all the previous years’ winners. Dig in!

Despite an overall slowdown in the amount of what we’re consuming in restaurants, a report issued today by Technomic suggests that we’re drinking less, but we’re also being more discerning about our choices. While the overall gains were modest (0.7% overall), categories such as Irish whiskey (+21.6%) and craft/microbrewed beer (+13%) saw double digit growth. [Technomic]

While we were on Thanksgiving break, Diageo announced via press release an initiative it’s The Orphan Barrel Project, which sounds suspiciously close to another project near and dear to our hearts. The project will “rescue” old and rare barrels of whiskey from their warehouses, including Kentucky Bourbons, to be bottled… in Tennessee (…not cool, Diageo). The first of the “expressions” – a 20 year old called Barterhouse and a 26 year old called Old Blowhard will be arriving in early 2014, and not everyone is thrilled with the concept or presentation. Charles Cowdery offers up an excellent editorial on the whole business.

bottlelarge sriracha2 77x300 Drinkhacker Reads   12.02.2013   Drinkhacker Gift Guide Goes Color +  Sriracha VodkaAnd finally today: just when you thought it was safe to go down the vodka aisle and not be assaulted by hideous flavors, UV has announced the arrival of its Sriracha Vodka expression. No doubt an attempt to cash in on the Sriracha craze sweeping the nation, Philips Distilling Company is proud to present the world’s first Sriracha-flavored vodka. We’re kind of hoping it’s the only version, but hey… maybe it’ll sell well in upscale restaurants. [UV Vodka]