Drinkhacker Reads – 12.01.2014 – Diageo Loves America, Europe Loves Microbrewers

Welcome back from the holiday weekend. If you haven’t had a chance to do so yet, might we interest you in our 2014 edition of the Holiday Gift Guide? It’s full of solid recommendations covering some of the “best of the best” we’ve reviewed this year.

While the rest of the world is looking a bit grim for Diageo when it comes to spirits sales, America is a shining beacon welcoming cases of the brand’s finest with open arms and open minds. Even the orphans seem to be getting a little love. Sales are booming, and this is a good thing, as Diageo’s prized Chinese market is slipping drastically in profits. [The Economist]

It’s well known that the craft beer industry has been surging in recent years over in the States, with Big Brewers getting a bit antsy; scrambling to keep up and keep innovating to win drinkers back. Now the frenzy is heading to Europe, with more folks overseas discovering and turning to microbrewers for new experiences. [Financial Times]

Shanken runs a profile on how Bacardi plans to lure bourbon drinkers over to its brands via a new product line and new expression of an old favorite. [Shanken News Daily]

And finally today, a group of armed thieves hijacked and stole an estimated 2,500 cases of gin and whiskey in broad daylight last month. Police are currently working on the investigation with relatively minimal leads at this point. No doubt this stolen product is going into the exact same warehouse currently storing the missing Pappy Van Winkle from a year ago. [Independent]

Drinkhacker Reads – 11.26.2014 – Early Thanksgiving Edition

Unlike most people who have already packed up and shipped off for the holiday weekend, we never stop working here at Drinkhacker. Going forward into that great November night, we’re still here scouring the wires for the latest news and reads. We find this duty to be especially important today, given that we’ll all need an excuse for something to read while avoiding political discussions with relatives. So without further adulation, let’s get to it!

In a major victory for great taste, more Americans are drinking craft beer than Budweiser. Now mind you this doesn’t include the entire Budweiser stable of brands, and it’s really only folks in the 21-27 year old demographic. But it’s still good news, right? In response to this information, the marketing folks have decided on a bold new strategy to woo those back who have left: not using its famous Clydesdale horses in its ads. How about just making better tasting beer? [Slate]

In science news, a look into the mystery behind the gorgeous photographs of whisky rings, and why they occur. No doubt we’ll be staring blankly into the bottom of a glass this week in order to avoid family conversation. Elsewhere in science news: bubbles in a glass of beer help to prevent spills better than other liquids. [Scientific American]

Balcones has agreed to drop its restraining order against founder Chip Tate. Hopefully this means they can also drop the drama and get back to making some pretty good whiskey. [Waco Tribune]

And finally today, just a reminder that while tonight is one of the busiest bar nights of the year, it’s also one of the most dangerous days for drunk drivers. Please have yourself a safe, happy, enjoyable Thanksgiving and stay tuned for Friday when we’ll publish the 2014 edition of our annual Gift Guide — chock full of suggestions of things to take to your next holiday affair.

Drinkhacker Reads – 11.24.2014 – New Bourbon Fetches $25K at Auction, Grand Marnier For Sale?

The Upshot takes a look at how the oil industry could learn a thing or two from the bourbon industry. This immediately prompted a response from Forbes bluntly titled “Why Oil Is Not Like Bourbon.”

We reported on the opening of Boundary Oak Bourbon last week in Reads, and this week it turns out that the freshly-minted distillery now holds the record for the most expensive bourbon to be sold in the U.S. Via online auction, bottle #1 of Boundary Oak fetched an impressive $25,000. The winner opted to remain anonymous, but the proceeds from the sale will be going direct to their charity of choice. [The Spirits Business]

Need help brewing your own beer? There’s an app (and machine) for that. Brewbot helps the new homebrewer with the brewing process step by step. The machines are in the process of being manufactured, with 80 pre-orders already lined up and a predicted ship date in early 2015. And for those not willing or able to spend $4,000, one could always just hop on down to the library and read a book. Or hop online to read some tutorials. [New York Times]

In other new product news, the Sonic Decanter claims to make one’s wine taste better using sound waves. Does it really work? Huffington Post test drives the machine, scheduled for release in May of 2015. [Huffington Post]

Grand Marnier Group, the French cognac maker, is exploring options which include putting itself up for sale. No idea yet on which companies are potential suitors for the potential acquisition, but this could prove to be more interesting than some of the more noted acquisitions and mergers in 2014. Our complete and total speculation: look for an announcement by year’s end. [Bloomberg]

And finally today, in a bit of a head scratcher, police in the metropolitan Nashville area are looking for a bandit who has been robbing liquor stores, but not taking the predictable Pappy thievery route. They’re snatching up Canadian whiskey by the caseload. [Associated Press]

Drinkhacker Reads – 11.19.2014 – Wednesday Quick Links

Another round of quick links. Lots to cover today!

• Vinuous acquires International Wine Cellar for an undisclosed sum. Pretty ambitious for a company which started up less than 18 months ago. [Forbes]

• Bud Light is planning on launching a flavored beer line. [St. Louis Business Journal]

• William Grant wastes no time relaunching Drambuie after its acquisition, with a very peculiar ad designed to resemble “found footage” from the 60s. [YouTube]

• P. Diddy tries to start a tequila war, 1990s hip hop style. But on Instagram. That’ll show ’em. [Page Six]

• Somewhat related, Fox News recaps the history of celebrity-endorsed spirits. [Fox News]

• The Boundary Oak Distillery is now open for business, making it the first distillery in Hardin County, Kentucky since the 1890s. [Boundary Oak Distillery]

• The first Women Of The Vine symposium has been announced for 2015. Looks like a heck of a good time! [Women Of The Vine]

• Infographic: Beer sales mapped around the world. [Telegraph UK]

• Chuck Cowdery goes for the throats of orphans in his latest editorial piece. [Chuck Cowdery Blog]

• Alcohol in moderation only benefits about 15% of the population, according to geneticists. [Genetic Literacy Project]

• Read about the whiskey war that left Brooklyn in ruins. And we aren’t talking about modern day hipsters, either. [Smithsonian.com]

• The EU is going to demand more of its beer head over to Japan in an upcoming economic summit between the two powerhouses. [Reuters]

• Qosy releases its 2015 guide to the best whiskeys in the world. It’s mainly for newcomers not looking to break the bank. Some interesting selections, though. [Qosy]

Drinkhacker Reads – 11.17.2014 – Wine Spectator Announces Best of 2014

The folks over at the good ship Wine Spectator announced its Top 100 for 2014 this morning, with Dow’s 2011 Vintage Port taking top honors. Lots of great stuff to choose from here. [Wine Spectator]

John Hansell over at Whisky Advocate goes all crazy over the forthcoming Diageo release in its Orphan Barrel project, Lost Prophet. Look for our thoughts in the not-so-distant future. Between this, new releases of Barterhouse and Rhetoric and something called Forged Oak, it appears Diageo is getting serious about its intent to dominate the American whiskey market. [Whisky Advocate]

The Scotch Whisky Association is unsure why sales are down in the U.S. Perhaps it’s the fact that products like Fireball and Piehole are now flooding the market. Perhaps its the continuous price increases we’ve seen in the last few years. Or perhaps it’s the economy, stupid. Either way, spirits execs don’t seem too concerned. For now. [The Spirits Business]

Diageo  Crown Royal Regal AppleCrown Royal is introducing an apple-flavored whiskey to its lineup, Crown Royal Regal Apple, which fuses Crown Royal with regal apples.  The press release mentions something about this being “innovative,” but we’re failing to see how another flavored whiskey really provides that spark of intellectual and creative genius commonly associated with the word. The 70 proof whiskey will retail for about $25 per 750ml and is expected to hit store shelves shortly.

One of the creators behind Yellow Tail wine is now facing charges of alleged involvement in a drug syndicate. Apparently running a multi-million dollar wine brand isn’t enough excitement for some folks. [Daily Mail]

Another day, another Kickstarter. But this is one we’re actually excited about. Cocktail & Sons is a startup by esteemed bartender and Friend of Drinkhacker Max Messier, who is looking to develop a very unique line of syrups and sodas to elevate the quality of your mixed drinks. The first four offerings (Spiced Demerara Syrup, Oleo Saccharum, Honeysuckle and Peppercorns, Mint and Lemon Verbena) all sound ridiculously tasty and dare we say “innovative.” Tasty stuff, and we wish Max the best of luck in this new venture! Reviews are forthcoming. [Cocktail & Sons]

In other weird wine news, Red Robin is now serving milkshakes mixed with red wine. Now taking bets on when the first minor is accidentally served one. [NYPost]

And finally today: just when you thought it was all over, it appears that the Hatfields and McCoys are at it once again. This time it’s over a whiskey. As always, it’s all about the comments section. (And, again, a review is on its way.) [Whiskey Wash]

Drinkhacker Reads – 11.12.2014 – Quick Links Edition

Lots of stuff to get to today, so let’s dig right in!

Mass protests in Champagne, France over taxes and other changes. Things aren’t bubbling over yet, but it’s about to pop! [Decanter]

Larger wine stores are cutting back on selection, presenting a new set of challenges for wine lovers and an opportunity for specialty stores. [Telegraph UK]

The paper of record does its darnedest to expose a new trend in cocktail menus (though we can’t recall it ever going away): French brandy. [NY Times]

Chuck Cowdery fires off a one-two punch against Diageo brands: first against the new Piehole range, and then against Jeremiah Weed. [Chuck Cowdery Blog]

An app that sounds quite promising: Next Glass. TechCrunch profiles it. Have you tried it? Let us know! [TechCrunch]

The saga of the missing Pappy Van Winkle continues, but this time a detective reveals more details. In other Pappy news (and there’s plenty of it), Esquire profiles what the future of the brand could taste like, and it’s something folks have been saying for years now: It won’t be the same.

In vodka news: more on the pending lawsuit against Tito’s, and a band of brothers in Scotland are launching a new super-premium vodka.

Another day, another bourbon. Boundary Oak bourbon will be launching this Thursday at a release party in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. [Insider Louisville]

If you happen to be in the Lexington, Kentucky area, author Fred Minnick will be speaking about his book Whiskey Women today at noon at the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment’s Cameron Williams Lecture Hall in the Plant Science Building. Come on out and have some fun with us.

Drinkhacker Reads – 11.10.2014 – Anheuser-Busch and the Case of the Purchased Microbrewery

Just mere hours after announcing its intention to launch a tequila-flavored beer in Spring of 2015, Anheuser-Busch InBev NV announced its acquisition of Oregon’s 10 Barrel Brewing Co. This is just the latest in AB InBev’s attempt to enter the craft market, after purchasing Goose Island in 2011. Look for the company to make more waves in the immediate future, as it is also currently in a bit of spot regarding beer distribution in the commonwealth of Kentucky. [Wall Street Journal]

With the 100th anniversary of World War I arriving, the Drinks Business takes a look at five historical drinks that played a significant role in the great conflict. [The Drinks Business]

Scientists in Spain confirm that aromas from regular beer can help to improve the taste of non-alcoholic beer. The study, publishing the Journal of Food Engineering, found that 90% of tasters preferred enriched low-alcohol beer instead of their original factory counterparts, and this percentage rose to 80% for alcohol-free beer. [Redorbit]

And finally today, Campari has unveiled the 2015 images of its annual calendar and announced its subject: actress Eva Green. Most noted for her roles in such films as Sin City, 300, and Casino Royale, the actress joins a corps of Campari calendar models that has included Jessica Alba, Eva Mendes, Penelope Cruz, Benicio Del Toro, and Uma Thurman. The awfully swell folks at the Spirits Business have the full slideshow of images for your consideration. [The Spirits Business]

Drinkhacker Reads – 11.05.2014 – Election Hangover Edition

Now that the votes (for the most part) have been tallied, the winners declared, and the campaign ads vanished from our television sets, election season is coming to a close for the next two years. While it seemed as if the number of advertisements were extraordinarily high this year, The Wall Street Journal is content to remind us that Americans spent 16 times as much on beer last year as the amount spent on the midterm elections. Perhaps America’s fiscal priorities are in the right place, after all.
[Wall Street Journal]

In what has to be one of the most succinct press releases we’ve received in years, New York based Sovereign Brands has sold its interest in Armand de Brignac champagne to one Mr. S. Carter, also known to everyone else as Jay-Z. Terms of the agreement with H.O.V.A were not disclosed, but congrats  to Mr. Beyonce Knowles on another really fine acquisition.

Turning elsewhere, International Wine and Spirits Research COO Humphrey Serjeantson gazes into his crystal ball and predicts the future of the spirits market for the next several years, as well as the industry’s shift into super premium categories. [The Drinks Report]

Adam Carolla interviews William Shatner and they taste wine together. That’s all that really needs to be said about this. Either you’re going to like watching this interview or you’re not. [Ora TV]

And finally today, Bay Area folks take heed: Like everything else, the cost of your alcohol is rising very quickly. Time takes a look at the rising cost of alcohol in major cities across the nation. [Time]

Drinkhacker Reads – 11.03.2014 – Diageo Eyes Don Julio, Swaps With Cuervo For Bushmills

Word broke this weekend that Diageo has agreed in principle to a deal with the Jose Cuervo family that would swap Diageo’s Irish whiskey Bushmills with Cuervo’s Don Julio tequila line. Some details have been publicly made final: the two products would essentially switch sides, with Cuervo receiving an additional $408 million in cash.  Official word is expected sometime later this week, with the transaction being completed sometime in 2015. [NY Times]

The Telegraph goes a bit deeper with analysis of the Diageo-Cuervo deal, with what the swap will mean financially for both sides. In short: Diageo investors might need a better chaser to alleviate the potential bitterness they’re swallowing. The Drinks Business also offers its own excellent analysis of the situation.   [Telegraph UK]

In other Diageo news, just when you thought all was quiet on the Tennessee front, the battle is starting up again. David Mann of Insider Louisville reports that jabs are once more being traded between Diageo and Brown-Forman/Jack Daniel’s over the definition of “Tennessee Whiskey.” [Insider Louisville]

BusinessWeek salutes the 30th anniversary of Blanton’s Single Barrel bourbon with a profile on just who Colonel Blanton was, and the history behind the industry’s oldest single barrel offering. [BusinessWeek]

Divisive whiskey author Jim Murray has announced his winners for the best whiskeys in the world which will be featured in the 2015 edition of the Whiskey Bible, with (as usual) a surprise Best Overall Winner. Let the complaining commence! [Daily Mail]

And finally today, in a totally unscientific poll of 2,000 Brits it has been somewhat discovered that women are more likely than men to polish off a bottle of wine in one sitting. But not by much: 16 percent of women and 14 percent of men confessed to the crime, with the highest percentage of bottle slammers being in the 25-34 year old demographic. [Telegraph UK]

Finally, the latest shipment from The Whiskey Explorers Club has arrived, this month offering four enticing samples for your blind-tasting consideration. If you’re not already a member, join up now and get in on the fun!

Drinkhacker Reads – 10.29.2014 – Fireball Is Not Being Extinguished

With the latest hubbub surrounding Finland’s removal of Fireball whiskey from its shelves, an international frenzy has started to sweep social media under the rumor that the phenomenon is being pulled around the world. Of course this sent many a frathouse and wedding party into stockpile mode. Sazerac Company, makers of the world’s most beloved Cinnamon Whiskey, reached out to us with the following statement:

Fireball Cinnamon Whisky assures its consumers that the product is perfectly safe to drink. There is no recall in North America. Fireball fans can continue to enjoy their favorite product as they always have.

Late last week Sazerac, the makers of Fireball, was contacted by its European bottler regarding a small recipe-related compliance issue in Finland.

Regulations for product formulation are different in Europe, which explains why recipes for products like soft drinks, alcohol/spirits and even candies and confections are slightly different than their North American counterparts. Fireball, therefore, has a slightly different recipe for Europe.

Unfortunately, Fireball shipped its North American formula to Europe and found that one ingredient is out of compliance with European regulations. Finland, Sweden and Norway have asked to recall those specific batches, which is what the brand is doing. Fireball anticipates being back on the shelves for fans in these countries within three weeks.

The ingredient in question was propylene glycol (PG). PG is a regularly used and perfectly safe flavoring ingredient. PG has been used in more than 4,000 food, beverage, pharmaceutical and cosmetic products for more than 50 years. Most people consume PG every day in soft drinks, sweeteners, some foods or alcoholic beverages.

The ingredient is “generally recognized as safe (GRAS)” by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration up to 50 grams per KG. In Canada, its use is limited to “good manufacturing practice” with no defined numerical limit. It is used in the Fireball flavor in very small quantities, less than 1/8th of the amount allowed by US FDA regulations.

All Fireball formulas are absolutely safe to drink and the use of PG in Fireball creates no health risk whatsoever. There is no recall in North America. Fireball fans can continue to enjoy their favorite product as they always have.

So rest easy, college bars and internet rumor distributors. Fireball isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Other quick links for today:

Fox News takes a look at how millennials are changing the wine world. [Fox News]

Forbes posts an op-ed on how wine lovers should be embracing new technology. [Forbes]

Glen Grant has announced the release of its 50 year expression in a limited edition of 150 bottles. [Harper’s]

Diageo is delaying plans for new distilleries due to global slowdown in demand. Is the bubble about to burst? [Reuters]

The Ardbeg aged in space for 3 years has returned home. [Popular Mechanics]