Category Archives: News

Drinkhacker Reads – 06.04.2014 – Brown-Forman Begets Beaucoup Bucks

Brown-Forman reported this morning that it had a very strong 2013 with a final quarter pulling in a 17 percent net income increase over Q4 2012. A spokesperson attributed the success to its Jack Daniel’s brand (and its offshoot varieties like Tennessee Honey), which rose 8 percent overall for the year, as well as an increase in sales for its super and ultra premium brands such as Woodford Reserve (up 25% for the year). Sales also proved to be strong globally for the most part, with the only notable decreases coming from France (-16%) and Mexico (-4%). [Associated Press]

Marketwatch interviews Diageo CEO Ivan Menezes on the state of industry competition, and lets slip a little bit about the company’s future intentions regarding Bulleit Bourbon, and its non-intentions for Johnnie Walker. [WSJ]

Shanken News Daily reports that the acquisitions by Campari of Canada’s Forty Creek Distillery and Italy’s Averna Group is complete. Adding to its already stacked portfolio, Forty Creek came at a price tag of $182 million and shows the company’s commitment to Canadian Whisky. Averna was purchased for a mere $141 million. [Shanken News Daily]

And finally today in science news, nuclear physicists are joining in the noble cause of detecting wine fraud. It’s a short read, but certainly one of the more intriguing articles we’ve read all week. [NPR]

Drinkhacker Reads – 06.02.2014 – Bursting Bubbles In Beer And Bourbon

No sooner than hours after the announcement broke of Diageo’s commitment to build a brand new $115 million distillery in Kentucky came the expected thinkpieces on the future of American whiskey making and whether or not we are currently watching the proverbial bubble on the market about to burst. Whether or not this happens remains to be seen, but there seems to be a kernel of truth to it. One need look no further than the wildly out of control secondhand market as evidence for consideration.

Just days after The Atlantic published its think piece on the over-saturation of craft distilling, Entrepreneur files a similar piece lamenting the demise of craft brewing due to the increase in production and ingredient costs. Looks like the bourbon world isn’t the only place with a very large bubble manifesting itself.

In less gloomy news, Feis Ile, that lustful festival that Islay single malt fans crave, took place this past week. Lots of special editions were on hand to drool over. UK-based Vinspire offers one of the more comprehensive recaps of the festivities. [Vinspire]

And finally today, science takes a moment to reflect upon the ingredients necessary to create perfect beer foam in the pint glass, and examines whether or not a wine’s terroir really has a major effect on the end result.

RIP Rogue Founder Jack Joyce

joyce 525x349 RIP Rogue Founder Jack Joyce Rogue brewery co-founder Jack Joyce passed away yesterday at the age of 71. Via Oregon Live:

Following a career as both a small town attorney and Nike executive, Jack and some friends founded Rogue in 1988 in Ashland, Oregon. From the outset, Jack set Rogue on a path of innovation, creativity, and rebellion. Rogue made hoppy, flavorful beers and was told that no one would drink them. Rogue made a wide range of beers and was told no one wanted variety. Rogue sold 22oz bottles of beer and was told no one would pay a premium for a single serve beer. Rogue opened multiple pubs and breweries and was told that it would be wise to follow a more efficient and logical business plan. Rogue took the road less, or perhaps never, travelled. Rogue was the first U.S. craft brewer to send beer to Japan. Rogue won 1,000 awards for product and packaging excellence. Rogue worried about getting better, not bigger. Rogue began distilling. Rogue began farming. Rogue remained dedicated to its small town roots and made sure to give back to its local communities. Rogue started a Nation. This was all vintage Jack. He was the true Rogue and will be missed by us all.

A tip of the glass to a pioneer, and from all of us here at Drinkhacker, our sincerest condolences.

Drinkhacker Reads – 05.28.2014 – “Just Brew It” Edition

The Pew Charitable Trust offers up a long and informative read on the current state of craft beer sales in America, and how it poses a potential threat to bigger beer companies. We’ve been touching on this subject here and there in Reads over the past few months, but this article brings everything up to date quite nicely. [Stateline]

Because it’s a slow news day, the Wall Street Journal profiles James Nielsen, the 34-year old who did the unthinkable and ran the “beer mile” in under 5 minutes. Apparently, the first ever championships are scheduled to be held later this summer. We’ll keep you posted. [WSJ]

Infamous Indiana whiskey distiller MGP announced yesterday via press release that it will be expanding its core offering to include 14 new spirits from which clients may choose for their bespoke bottling. Eight of these new 14 will be flavored whiskey options including black licorice and butterscotch flavored whiskeys. The other six include two new rye whiskeys, a 95% wheat whiskey, a 100% barley malt whiskey, and two bourbons, one produced with 45% wheat, and the other produced with 49% barley malt. Watch for reviews in, oh, three to seven years when other folks start bottling these things. [Press Release]

Finally today, we were super excited to receive a link to something called BeverageGrades, a new and somehow “objective” metadata web resource to help us pick out new bottles of wine which using several different scientific criteria, thereby rendering the need for subjective critical opinion obsolete. We’re pleased to report after numerous attempts at selecting different types of wine, we got exactly what we were looking for.

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Drinkhacker Reads – 05.27.2014 – Hangover-Free Alcohol?

While other columnists and pundits bemoan the loss of innovation from the millennial generation, there’s a group of students looking to become the exception to the rule. Three enterprising young folks are developing Prime, a new beverage guaranteed to eliminate hangovers. While it will help with the next morning, the group claims that it will not help the user in avoiding bad choices the night before. The group has set up an indiegogo campaign to help develop the product further. On a most excellent TV side note, the team of college students also has a chemistry student named Walter as one of its founders. Looking forward to seeing where this goes!

In other science news, we took a break from enjoying gin and tonics, strawberry mint juleps, and other concoctions to read this outstanding piece by Jordan Devereaux, aka the Cocktail Chemist. It’s the first of what could very well be a multi-part piece on the actual chemical effects alcohol has on the body. It’s incredibly heavy on the science, but well worth the read — having a Wikipedia tab up for certain elements of the discussion helps as well. Excellent stuff. We’re looking forward to part 2. [Chemistry of the Cocktail]

A new study to be published in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research is making the case that folks mixing alcohol and energy drinks do so for purely hedonistic reasons. This one may seem quite obvious to anyone who has spent a weekend surrounded by people at a dance music festival. However, looking for the surprising connection, researchers found that:

“People who drank A+EDs to sober up were actually at an increased risk of experiencing alcohol-related injuries and harms… This finding is interesting because it could mean that consumers are incorrect if they are assuming that drinking caffeine might reduce their intoxication.”

So: Alcohol gets you drunk, no matter what you mix it with. All clear? [Science Codex]

Finally today, the New York Times takes craft beers down to the microscopic level and examines the genetic map of the beers. Not as science-heavy as some articles on yeast and genetic origins, but it certainly highlights the promise and potential of future innovations in yeast strains we may be enjoying in the not too far off future.

Drinkhacker Reads – 05.22.2014 – Buffalo Trace Experiments With Getting High

Warehouse Floor Experiment 300x220 Drinkhacker Reads   05.22.2014   Buffalo Trace Experiments With Getting HighThe company may be running short on supplies of its flagship brands (Eagle Rare, Blanton’s, Buffalo Trace), but Buffalo Trace Master Distiller Harlen Wheatley is keeping busy putting out more limited runs of the Experimental Collection branch of the Buffalo tree. This time around finds the crew toying with warehouse floor location, a well-known factor in determining the speed at which Kentucky whiskey ages. From the press release:

The barrels aged on the first floor of Warehouse K resulted in a bourbon with a delicate flavor, subtly sweet, with a very mild oak taste.
Barrels aged on the fifth floor of Warehouse K yielded a bourbon that tasted of sweet vanilla and a light caramel, coupled with light wood flavors.
The ninth floor of Warehouse K resulted in a bourbon with a deep aroma. The flavor was of a roasted nut sweetness paired with green pears and figs.
“Through this experiment, we learned that something as simple as varying which floor a bourbon ages on does bring out different flavors in the bourbon, said Harlen Wheatley, master distiller. “The higher floors had slightly deeper, woody notes as well as more varying fruity flavors.”

This round should be available later in June at the usual asking price of $46 for a 375ml bottle. Review to come.

Drambuie is up for sale. The legendary Scottish liqueur currently owned by Suntory is available for an asking price of around $169 million, according to the Financial Times. No word on any buyers yet, but this one isn’t likely to be on the market for too long. [FT]

The next installment of Bonham’s whisky auctions is set to take place later this month in Scotland. Amongst the items up for bid are a 50 year old Glenfiddich and a bottle of The Macallan Millennium Decanter 50 year old. Start saving your quid now, because if it’s anything like the last auction, things are sure to heat up quickly. [Scotland Now]

And finally today, the sports obsessed city of Cleveland seems to be having a great string of luck. CBS is reporting that one fan is taking it to the limit with a new beer dedicated to the latest QB draft pick, Johnny Manziel. There’s no word on whether Johnny Manz’ale will be made readily available to the public, but it’s no doubt a nice welcome for yet another quarterback destined to contribute to the Cleveland Curse. [CBS Sports]

Drinkhacker Reads – 05.19.2014 – Pitbull Fighting In Court

Ready for another lawsuit? Totally ignoring the fact that the descriptive classification “pit bull” has been around since before the 18th century, rapper Pitbull is filing a lawsuit against New Amsterdam for marketing a cocktail christened the “Pit Bull” (fans of semantic detail please note: there’s a space between the two words). If his litigation skills are anything like his rapping ones, this headache may be around for quite some time. [Billboard]

From one dog to another, the profile of Bulldog Gin has been on the rise as of late and thanks to a recent distribution deal with Campari, there’s no sign of it slowing down. The Shout does a quick profile on the company’s history, and how it’s been making waves in recent competitions. [The Shout]

Elsewhere in the world of gin reads, the New Statesman takes a quick look at gin’s role in the history of British colonialism. It’s a quick read, but enjoyable from a historical perspecrhetoric 173x300 Drinkhacker Reads   05.19.2014   Pitbull Fighting In Courttive. Much like Fred Minnick’s story of the role of women in the history of whiskey, there’s definitely promise for future scholarship along these lines. Here’s hoping someone picks up the ball and runs with it from here. [New Statesman]

And finally today, on its way to stores is the third release in the (un)limited edition Orphan Barrel Bourban project. Rhetoric, a 20 year old bourbon, will feature juice distilled at both Bernheim distilleries and aged in a completely different warehouse. Diageo has recommended it at a retail price of $85, but no doubt folks will be upcharging from there as hype and demand accelerates. [Previously on Drinkhacker: our review of the first two whiskeys in the Orphan Barrel series]

Drinkhacker Reads – 05.14.2014 – Days Of Wine and Cocaine

On the heels of a report saying that alcohol kills 1 person every 10 seconds, here’s a map of the world’s drunkest countries. As we all can see, the world has some catching up to do with Russia. However, in an effort to curb the abuse, our comrades have the solution to curb the drinking: drugs. And speaking of drugs, here’s an article from Russian TV discussing how the heavy use of cocaine in the UK has led to it now being detectable in the nation’s drinking water. Cheers!

In other science news, researchers are now backtracking on something they said before, which contradicts something they said years before that. According to yet another new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the naturally occurring antioxidants found in red wine do not help longevity in ways previously thought. One possible solution to this problem would be to drink more, but we’re already doing that (we have drugs to fix the problem of excess and abuse). Tune in next week when we discover a newly published study debunking the results of this one.

Unsurprisingly, the relationship between mega-spirits companies Suntory and Campari has ceased to be. Following the acquisition of Beam, Suntory has announced effective this June that the domestic distribution deal between the two will be rendered null and void. This isn’t a major loss for Campari, as the Suntory deal only represented 1 percent of overall Campari sales last year. The announcement came on the heels of the revelation that Campari’s profits were down 47 percent in the first quarter, citing unfavorable economic conditions as a primary reason for the massive slip. [Just Drinks]

Last night’s Bourbon Affair kick-off event was hampered by pretty heavy rain and was moved indoors to the uberposh 21c hotel in Louisville, but it didn’t deter everyone from having a grand old time. If you’re in the Kentucky area with nothing to do this weekend, you’d be hard pressed to find more interesting things to do. There are still tickets available to many events including a Wild Turkey hunt with Jimmy Russell, a tour of the Stitzel-Weller distillery with Tom Bulleit, and a “grain-to-glass” class with Woodford Reserve master distiller Chris Morris. [Kentucky Bourbon Affair]

Drinkhacker Reads – 05.12.2014 – Liquored Up Pigs

Last week we made mention that the sale of Whyte and Mackay to Emperador may happen sooner than later. It seems as if this one is now about to happen. Representatives between the two companies are scheduled to meet in London this Friday to agree to terms. Economic Times is reporting that the deal is valued at close to $700 million. It’s not clear as to whether or not W&M will also include Jura and Dalmore in the package deal. [ET]

Buffalo Trace (“Potentially Running Out Of Stuff Since 2012“) has pushed whiskey boundaries with its Single Oak Project and Experimental Collections, but there’s a new project going on that just might trump its continuous tinkering. Templeton Rye is attempting to raise hogs that taste like its whiskey, even before being sent to slaughter. The Templeton Rye Heritage Pork Project (or what we’re calling “Project Oinkway”) is going on now. There’s something to be said about bringing home the booze and the bacon at the same time, and this should prove to be a quite tasty affair.

In new product news, our main man with an eye on the TTB Sku just dug up in his weekly sweep of new items a gem of a new release: a Macallan Rare Cask. However, what’s totally unclear about this whole situation is what makes it rare. There’s no age statement to be found, no details on how the casks were selected. It’s just “rare”. This seems to be in parallel with the recent trend to eliminate as much label information on the aging and origin of Scotch as possible. Let’s just hope it’s not the direction everyone’s heading in for the long haul. [Sku’s Recent Eats]

And finally today, we’ve received word that our pals over at the Whiskey Explorers Club have thoroughly revamped their blind tasting game, My Whiskey IQ. It’s been enhanced for use on smartphones and tablets (it had previously been mainly desktop friendly), given a clean new interface and has more advisory suggestions/discovery elements based on your flavor preferences. Swing on by and give it a test drive when your quarterly shipment arrives. [Whiskey Explorer’s Club]

Drinkhacker Reads – 05.08.14 – Beam, Suntory, Beam and Suntory

With the Suntory-Beam/Beam-Suntory deal now complete, sources are telling Reuters that Suntory plans to sell $8 billion in debt to finance the purchase of the company. Elsewhere, Chuck Cowdery looks into his crystal ball to figure out what exactly the whole deal will mean for the corporate culture of both companies, and what the future may hold for us.

In other bourbon news, the Courier Journal reports there’s a new distillery opening shortly along the Bourbon Trail. New Riff distillery will be a bit out of the ways in Northern Kentucky, but looks to be a bit different from most of the folks on both the traditional and craft bourbon trails. Across the Commonwealth, Janet Patton reports there’s a new buyer for the Charles Medley distillery. South Carolina’s TerrePure is looking to invest $23 million over the next year and a half to bring the distillery back to life. This coming on the heels of a potential overhaul of the old Taylor distillery, it seems as if the ghosts of Kentucky past are coming back to life.

With its lawsuit with the Explorer’s Club still pending, Johnnie Walker/Diageo is once again revamping the ultra-super-mega-premium range to present its Premium Collection. This expression will be released annually with a limited offering of 8,888 bottles at a cost of about $740. Of course, one is simply not going to be able to roll down to the corner store to get their bottle. It will only be available in Singapore Changi Airport through May, and most of Asia-Pacific travel retail outlets in early summer. This move makes sense for Diageo, as it tries to somehow recover the losses of last quarter in the Chinese market due to the government crackdown on extravagant gifts and offerings at functions. [Moodie]

For those who have significant amounts of money to burn, an insane Maccallan collection collected over the last 50 years by an Italian restaurant owner will find itself on the auction block at McTear’s next Wednesday. The full collection runs over 400 bottles, wirh the first 164 up for sale in this round. [Glasgow]

And finally today, Joshua Feldman over at the Coopered Tot has been doing some outstanding historical research on old whiskey advertisements. Recent posts on women, racism, and male intimacy in advertising over the past century has been worthy of peer review in scholarly journals, so why not whiskey? Well researched and worth the time to read all three in the series. [Coopered Tot]

Drinkhacker Reads – 05.05.2014 – Happy Cinco De Mayo!

Looking for a break from tequila today? How about a refreshing gin and tonic? GQ today runs a quick portfolio piece on the new breed of American gins taking a share of the market traditionally held by the UK and Europe. We’ve reviewed most of these and agree with their rightful inclusion. [GQ]

If you’re not looking for a break from tequila today, here’s a few bottlings we’ve reviewed recently that received high marks.

Hornitos Black Barrel Tequila
KAH Tequila
Abreojos Tequila Silver
Baron Tequila Platinum

So it’s looking like Diageo is looking to jettison its Whyte and Mackay properties to Philippines-based Alliance Global Company, but nothing has come through that’s solidified as of yet. Most product lines would go with Alliance, however both The Dalmore and Tamnavulin brands would stay with Diageo, according to terms of the deal. Markets aren’t exactly responding favorably to this news, with Alliance’s stock dropping a few percentage points over the past few days. [Bloomberg]

Months after the infamous Pappygate of 2013, there are still no definitive leads in the case. Law enforcement officials believe it to be an inside job, but there are still no solid clues as to who is behind one of the best-orchestrated modern spirit swindle sagas. NPR’s Noah Adams checks in to see how the investigation is going, and does a bit of footwork himself. [NPR]

And finally today, the Telegraph UK takes an in-depth look on the Scotch revival in the United States, and what U.S. distillers are doing to counter the surge with their own renaissance. Not much in terms of new information for those who have been keeping score for the past year or so, but it’s an interesting profile piece nevertheless. [Telegraph UK]

Drinkhacker Reads – 04.30.2014 – Bonham’s Rare Spirit Auction

And so another edition of the Bonham’s Whisky, Cognac and Rare Spirits auction has started and the bids are currently flying fast and furiously. But the biggest head scratcher in the pile (so far) has been the 23 Year Old Rip Van Winkle that just sold for US$5,712. A complete list of items and results is available here.

The Spirits Business shares a listicle most interesting: the American Craft Distillers Association’s 10 most Pioneering Craft Distilleries. While these things are largely subjective, it’s hard to argue against the inclusion of some of them. [The Spirits Business]

Good news for beer drinkers in Missouri: state legislators have voted to pass a bill to allow for the sale of single bottles of beer. Previously, the law stated that all beer must be sold in a minimum package of 3 bottles. This new bill seeks to remedy this issue and be set for action in 2015. In other government-in-action news, the Florida state legislation voted down a law that would restrict the growth of microbreweries in the state. [KMOV]

And finally today, the city of Louisville has no problem honoring its hometown heroes. Celebrities such as Muhammad Ali and Diane Sawyer have their likenesses adorned on the side of giant buildings, courtesy of large hanging banners. So kudos to Tom Bulleit for joining these ranks. The man behind the Bulleit brand was honored with his own mug over looking Third Street in honor of his contributions to the  industry and the city at large. [Herald Leader]

Drinkhacker Reads – 04.28.2014 – De Niro Launches De Vodka

One of the greatest actors of the modern age is helping to co-brand a new vodka. Robert De Niro, star of such cinematic classics as The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Meet The Fockers, is partnering with Artisan Spirits Merchants to create VDKA 6100. We’re not exactly sure what the 6100 means, but the Wall Street Journal landed an interview where he wasn’t asked the question. The super premium product will be available first in De Niro’s restaurants and in New Jersey. [Wall Street Journal]

In science news, Boston Beer Brewer Jim Koch reveals a trade insider secret to Esquire magazine on how to drink all night long without getting drunk. We’re not exactly sure how many college kids heading to Thirsty Thursdays at the local pub will heed these wise words, but it’s still some probiotic food for thought. [Esquire]

The Rum Renaissance Festival happened this past weekend in Miami, and the Miami New Times filed a complete report on the festival’s ongoings, complete with its 10 favorite rums sampled throughout the weekend’s events. Definitely not a bad way to spend the weekend. [Miami New Times]

In new release news, Kilchoman is releasing a second installment of its Loch Gorm whisky line, Bacardi is launching a new Aberfeldy 18 year old Scotch, and Beam has a whole mess of new expressions in their Signature Series line coming up: Rolled Oats, Red Wheat, Six Row Barley, Triticale, and High Rye. [Major hat tip to the most excellent Sku’s Recent Eats for the Beam find!]

And finally today, Business Insider presents a feature on Fireball Whiskey, and how the brand jumped ahead of the pack to become one of the most successfully marketed spirits in recent decades. Which, if you think about the competition, is really kind of amazing. Or insane. Or both. [Business Insider]

Drinkhacker Reads – 04.23.2014 – “Oh No!” Edition

So remember on Monday how we linked to an article reporting on a powdered alcohol drink product? Well it turns out that the gun was significantly jumped in its approval. Backpedaling faster than Lance Armstrong, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) issued a statement saying that they weren’t sure how or why the product was approved, but it was all a big mistake. Chuck Cowdery writes that these oversights are happening a bit more frequently than normal, arguing for tighter observation and restriction, while FindLaw discusses some of the possible reasons why the product was rescinded its approval. Lehrman Beverage Law also has some fine discussion with the creators of the Palcohol and what’s potentially next. Or maybe this is just what happens when you put a taxation agency in charge of approving things that people drink. Hmmm…

The Chicago Daily Herald reports that the European Commission has approved Suntory’s acquisition of Beam, and has slated the closing of the deal for April 30. In other Suntory news, The Spirits Business reports this morning that the company has launched a new campaign with gorgeous miniature ice sculptures using cutting edge carving technology. [Daily Herald]

Meanwhile in beer world, there’s a bit of trouble brewing (no pun intended) with a new piece of legislation being proposed by the FDA that could send the price of beer up. Not a good thing to hear when so many microbreweries are just starting to thrive. [Time]

Wine Searcher is reporting that a British wine merchant is facing a hefty $25 million lawsuit after allegations were made that it was selling bottles of wine dating back to 1787. The most expensive wine sale ever could potentially also turn into one of the biggest lawsuits ever involving wine. [Wine Searcher]

Finally today, Page Six isn’t exactly the most reliable source of spirits/drinks information, but this bit was kind of awesome. Modern Family star Ty Burrell has opened a beer bar in Salt Lake City. Instead of lending his name/endorsement to another product to clog the celebrity shelf, Beer Bar (love the simplicity of the name) will serve 150 beers paired with an array of house-made bratwursts, local breads, and Belgian fries. [Page Six]

Drinkhacker Reads – 04.21.2014 – “Oh Yeah!” Edition

Remember when Kool-Aid or Tang used to be the powdered drink of choice? Now someone’s taken that idea and applied it to spirits. Simply tear open a pocket of Palcohol, add water, and voila! The Feds have given it their stamp of approval. What could possibly go wrong??? [The Verge]

And now: Beaujolais Nouveau for those who always wished to enjoy their wine in packaging shaped like a paint bucket. Tastes about the same. [ABC News]

Whiskycast gets the scoop on a new product about to hit stores: a collaborative bourbon made by four venerable micro-distilleries slated to go on sale this week at Binny’s in Chicago. In this day and age of distilleries picking fights or buying each other outright, it’s nice to see some friendly collaboration happening. [Whiskycast HD]

Meanwhile, in non-idiotic drink news: it’s been an interesting past week over in Beamworld. Beamland? Beamsville? Anyway. Beam’s chief financial officer and two other executives have announced their intention to resign within the coming months, as Beam’s largest shareholder continues to sell a large percentage of his stock to the open market. This is clearly to make way for the new Suntory executives and a smoother transition once the merger finally receives approval. In other Beam news: Fred Noe continues to be a really easygoing guy. Recently appearing in a Knob Creek television ad, the master distiller made the promise that “If you’re not completely satisfied with the big full flavor of our bourbon, just send back the unused portion and we’ll drink it for you.” It’s a nice juxtaposition against some of the baffling ads other bourbon companies have run lately.

And finally today, Fred Minnick takes on many of the rumors that have been clogging up the pipes of the internet over the past few weeks to discover the truth of what’s really going on with some of our favorite bourbons. Now if he could only work his magic and get Ancient Ancient Age back on the shelves, we’d be all set, and quite happy drinkers. [Whisky Advocate]

Drinkhacker Reads – 04.16.2014 – Whisk(e)y Wednesday Edition

For an opening offering today we have two recent pieces detailing the history of bourbon: The first from SKU’s Recent Eats outlining the five modern eras of American Whiskey (sans clowning this time), and the second from Joshua Feldman over at The Coopered Tot with a long and interesting piece of history regarding the Cabin Still line.

Good news for mead maniacs among us: according to a new survey by the American Mead Makers Association (AMMA), mead sales and consumption has increased 130% from 2012 to 2013, which exceeds the rate of growth of beer, wine, and distilled spirits. The number of meaderies has also increased from 60 in 2011 to 194 in 2014, which accounts for 2.5% of all American wineries. No word on who the first mead celebrity spokesperson will be, but if history proves us correct it will most likely be Sammy Hagar. [AMMA]

BusinessWeek tells the David/Goliath tale of a small Irish Whiskey company that has taken on not one, but two spirits conglomerates in defense of its brand, Wild Geese. [Business Week]

If you’re up for it in Vegas and have about $500 to spare, Wolfgang Puck’s dining establishment Cut is offering a flight featuring three whiskies from the ’70s: a Macallan 1976, a Dalmore 1974, and a Jura 1976. [Eater]

Scotland’s whisky industry came away with a huge legal win today. Scotch has been registered as a certified trademark in Australia, which should help to prevent counterfeit brands from flooding the market. The Scotch Whisky Association has already identified about 40 counterfeit brands, and feel this may just be the beginning of their findings. [Scotsman]

Finally today, in what has to be one of the more detailed presentations we’ve seen in a bit, Whisky Science digs deep and poses the question of whether or not water quality has a direct effect on the fermentation and eventual final taste of whisky. Get ready to go to school, class is definitely in session. [Whisky Science]

Drinkhacker Reads – 04.14.2014 – Putin Gets Trolled By Vodka Company

While politics normally resides in the domain of elsewhere, Sobieski vodka has taken to trolling Russian heartthrob Vladimir Putin in a recent series of ads poking fun at recent events in the Ukraine region. While outcry to the campaign has been at a minimum thus far, Mediaite’s Luke O’Neil sums it up best with this gem: “Vodka is supposed to be tasteless, which may explain the thinking behind this new ad.” [Mediaite]

Norman Borlaug once saved an entire continent from starvation with his modern agricultural production techniques involving dwarf wheat. While nowhere near as significant or history-altering, it appears scientists are looking at barley genetics to produce larger yields of the crop and meet the growing demand for the grain. The Spirits Business reports that the Impromalt Project aims to increase crop yields considerably by 2018. [The Spirits Business]

Irish whiskey certainly has come a long way in the past few years, and now the newly formed Irish Whiskey Association is predicting growth to quadruple further within the next 20 years. Irish Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney was interviewed by Newstalk to discuss the formation of the organization, and how the industry is helping the local economy. [Newstalk]

The Scotch Whisky Association reports that growth of the spirit remains incredibly strong globally, reporting that 2013 overall sales and exports were up 3% over 2012 figures. Exports to Brazil and Mexico were up 20%, and Poland saw a 30% increase in Scotchery. This in contrast with decreased exports to Asia, with shipments to China down 30%. [Financial News UK]

The final Best In Show results for the SF World Spirits Competition have been posted, with Glencadam 21 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky taking home best whisky and Jim Beam Single Barrel Bourbon winning best single barrel Bourbon (less than 11 years old), amongst other winners. [SF World Spirits]

In advance of the upcoming celebration honoring Jimmy Russell’s 60 years at Wild Turkey, here’s a profile on his legacy at the distillery and a preview of the upcoming Wild Turkey Diamond. Turkey and diamonds, you say!? [Herald-Leader]

Drinkhacker Reads – 04.09.2014 – Drink It Like Beckham

Former Manchester United punching bag David Beckham is once again lending his name to a product, this time via Diageo. In collaboration with House of Haig, the newly minted Haig Club whisky will be priced at about $65 a bottle. Appropriately enough, American Idol mastermind Simon Fuller is also involved in the partnership and the dynamic duo will be responsible for brand identity and market positioning. Hopefully Mr. Posh Spice can deliver what we want. What we really, really want. [WSJ]

The winners of the 2014 San Francisco World Spirits competition have been announced, and there are a lot of them in many categories. Thankfully, their website breaks it all down quite nicely with zoom and filter options. We’re going to have to wait a few more days for the Best In Show results, but we’ll be keeping watch for the final announcements. Congrats all around to the many winners! [SF Spirits Competition]

A new report from the subjectively-named research firm Wine Opinions poses the question of whether or not the craft beer industry is taking profits away from the wine world. While we’re sure the report is quite nice, we’re not willing to shell out the $500 to download it, so we’ll just link to the synopsis instead. [Wine Business]

And finally today, author Philip Seldon (Complete Idiot’s Guide To Wine) has lost his lawsuit in a New York court after being displeased with his purchase of 6 bottles of $12.99 wine from a local retailer. Seldon did not care for the contents of the advertised bottles, and therefore felt he was a candidate for restitution. Civil Court Judge David Cohen also dismissed a defamation claim against White Plains retailer Grapes, whose owner, Daniel Posner, called Seldon “a disgusting human being.” In his ruling, Cohen said that Seldon failed to meet minimum requirements to prove deceptive advertising took place. [New York Law Journal]

Drinkhacker Reads – 04.07.2014 – Final Four Couch Fire Edition

Just to prove the University is not all about basketball and burning couches, University of Kentucky geographer Matthew Zook recently took to twitter to discover favorite alcohol beverage choices on a state-by-state case. Unsurprisingly he found the west coast favoring wine, and the midwest enjoying tweeting about their beer. [Yahoo]

In fortune changing news, Brown-Forman, which was recently the topic of a potential takeover by Diageo, is now the subject of more takeover news. This time BF is the acquirer, reportedly eyeing Rémy Cointreau. Shanken reports that the corporation has been working with several financial advisors in a bid to make Remy brands a part of their collection. Once again, this could get interesting as more mega companies swallow one another. Stay tuned. [Shanken News Daily]

Dwars 300x229 Drinkhacker Reads   04.07.2014   Final Four Couch Fire EditionDewar’s is back and with a new look and marketing campaign. Under the banner of “True Scotch Since 1846,” Dewar’s will feature new packaging, and an aggressive multimedia campaign. [PR Newswire]

And finally today, the always venerable Whiskycast reports that Bowmore is readying the latest installments in its travel retail range. Bowmore Black Rock, White Sands, and Gold Reef will range from $75 to $130, and will be available at travel retail outlets later this year. [Whiskycast]

Drinkhacker Reads – 04.02.2014 – The Top Craft Breweries In America?

Everyone knows that lists are a fickle, subjective thing. So it should come as no surprise that there’s some pretty hefty disagreements and discussions involving the latest list from the Huffington Post detailing the The Top 50 Craft Breweries in America. The yearly list is compiled by the Brewers Association, with overall annual sales being the primary criteria from which the list is culled. [Huffington Post]

It seems as if the flavored whiskey trend really hasn’t found its fan base amongst die-hard drinkers, but for the general populace it seems to be taking off and holding steady. Shanken reports this morning that Beam is enjoying rapid and brisk sales of its Jim Beam Maple and Jim Beam Honey brands, but coming mildly at the expense of its Red Stag line, which saw a dip of 5% in overall sales from last year. Beam’s Devil’s Cut has also enjoyed a growth of 50% in sales over last year. [Shanken News Daily]

In continuing the tradition of friendly wagers between governors: Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has placed his state’s beer, bratwurst, and cheese against Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear’s fully-loaded bar of bourbon during this weekend’s NCAA men’s basketball final four game. The Wisconsin Badgers will face the Kentucky Wildcats Saturday night, and no doubt whatever happens one governor is going to walk away much better off for their flagship University’s athletic feats of conquest. [USA Today]

Finally today, kudos to both Sam Adams and Stone Brewing for their April Fool’s Pranks involving new lines of beer infusing helium as a primary ingredient.