Category Archives: News

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.

Drinkhacker Reads – 03.31.2014 – The Empire Strikes Back

“Rather than having one company dictate for everyone, we can do this the right way and come together in an open forum to discuss how to create the best standards for Tennessee whiskey.” – Guy Smith IV, VP For Diageo

This quote from last week came from Diageo, which seemed to have accepted a ruling from the Tennessee State Legislature declining to make modifications to the official definition of what constitutes a Tennessee whisky. In doing the neighborly thing to foster good relations with the state, Diageo has… wait for it… decided to sue the state. Claiming the ruling a violation of the Constitution’s Commerce Clause and the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, the spirits mega-conglomerate has decided to endear themselves to lawmakers by seeking the ability to make their spirits in Tennessee and then age them elsewhere. According to SKU’s Recent Eats:

Things got ugly when the two lobbyists ran into each other after a press briefing. Brown Forman’s spokesman fired first, “Come on, Diageo can’t even spell the word whiskey right,” to which Diageo’s lobbyist responded, “Do you seriously think we should take direction from a whiskey brand whose founder was so dumb he died from kicking something too hard?”

We told you this wouldn’t go gently into the good night. [Courthouse News]

(Update 04.03.2014: While we were adequately April Fooled by SKU’s pre-mature March 31st, the story of Diageo taking the state of Tennessee is in fact true. The quotes from the executives are the portion of the story which are fictitious.)

For those tired of our Diageo coverage, we’ve got some other morsels for you, too.

Tequila baron George Clooney has partnered with spirits giant Sidney Frank to help boost marketing and coverage areas of his Casamigos brand. We’ve sampled their stuff and it’s good enough, but it certainly needs all the marketing help it can get if it wants to compete in the big leagues. [Drinks Report]

The 2014 edition of the World Whiskies Awards have announced its results, with a surprising best overall pick. [Just tried it. Amazing stuff. -Ed.] Which got us wondering when the San Francisco World Spirits competition were going to post its results. Our answer: April 9th. It’ll be interesting to see how much overlap there is between the two competitions. [World Whiskies Awards]

And finally today, in totally non-alcoholic news, researchers in Italy have discovered that a cup of Earl Grey could help prevent heart disease and lower cholesterol levels. Yet another reason to drink exclusively amber-tinted liquids. [The Independent]

Drinkhacker Reads – 3.26.2014 – Legal Newsday

Tennessee state legislation can rest a bit easier knowing the spirit world is no longer watching their moves. State assemblymen and women have decided to table a bill asking for modifications to the official definition of what constitutes a Tennessee whisky. The bill will be re-evaluated over study sessions throughout the summer. Translation: Time for the lobbyists on both sides to sharpen their teeth and start making their moves. Of course both sides of the aisle — Diageo and Brown-Forman — are claiming this to be a massive victory:

“We stand behind last year’s law, we truly believe it’s best for Tennessee whiskey all over the world, and for the players who’ve located in the state of Tennessee, we need to uphold these quality standards.” – Jack Daniel’s Master Distiller Jeff Arnett

“Rather than having one company dictate for everyone, we can do this the right way and come together in an open forum to discuss how to create the best standards for Tennessee whiskey.” – Guy Smith IV, VP For Diageo

No doubt this isn’t the last we’ve heard of this. At least there’ll be something else to look forward to this fall besides an abundance of new bourbon releases. [The Tennessean]

Up north one state, Kentucky state Senators passed tax credit legislation on Tuesday giving distilleries a refund on taxes paid on barrels currently aging in warehouses. The Courier-Journal reports that the bill now heads to the House, where it most likely will meet its demise from politicians looking for more of an incentive to produce an economic stimulus or jobs, as opposed to giving tax breaks to wealthy companies. [Courier-Journal]

The Sarasota Herald Tribune is reporting that the Florida state legislation is currently debating a bill which could hinder the growth of the state’s craft brewing industry. The point of contention: growlers. There’s more at stake than just that, but this is the first of many battles ahead for the bill, its lobbyists and the industry. [Sarasota Herald Tribune]

Meanwhile in Michigan, Governor Rick Snyder has signed into a law a series of bills that would help grow the state’s already reputable and prominent craft brewing industry. Among the perks of the legislation: the ability to produce greater volumes of beer, increasing the number of brewpubs companies can operate, and allowing startups to self-distribute their beer with the appropriate licensing. All in all it’s a win for one of the state’s fastest-growing industries. [MLive]

Finally today, Coors Light is hosting a competition to win free Coors Light for a year. Simply do something to show them how much you love Coors Light, post it on their Facebook page and you’re entered to win. We wish you luck in more ways than one.

Drinkhacker Reads – 03.24.2014 – Diageo Gets Sued. Again.

The good times keep on coming for Diageo: the Wall Street Journal reports that the mega conglomerate is enjoying a lawsuit filed on behalf of the New York based Explorer’s Club, which owns the trademark to the name. Diageo recently adopted the phrase for its Johnnie Walker Explorer’s Club collection. This news comes on top of the announcement Diageo is planning to slash a generous amount of middle management jobs in the next few years. [WSJ]

A new study suggests that the sugar found in agave may help to lower blood pressure and prevent diabetes. There’s still more research to be done before we’re all slamming back shots in the name of good health, but at least there’s some promising news for tequila drinkers in lieu of so many horrible celebrity endorsements. [GuardianLV]

In bourbon news, it appears that Brown-Forman is getting busy in 2014. Insider Louisville reports that the company is getting ready to break ground on a new distillery in downtown Louisville on Whiskey Row. This report comes on the heels of an announcement via the enigmatic anonymous bourbon scribe BourbonTruth, which claims Woodford Reserve is readying a series of expressions based on vintage bourbon recipes later this fall. [Insider Louisville]

Penderyn whisky continues its celebration of Welsh icons with a nod to poet Dylan Thomas. The Spirits Business reports that the new whisky bearing no indicative age statement was filled in used bourbon casks and finished in sherry casks with an abv of 41%. The limited edition will be released across Europe and the UK at the end of April. It should be noted that alcohol played a special role in the life and times of Thomas. [Spirits Business]

Unless you’re some sort of polymath genius, your NCAA brackets have been absolutely decimated with the number of upsets over the past week. However, there’s one tournament you may be able to excel at with very little statistical knowhow. BourbonBlog is starting up its annual Boozebrackets tournament. The premise is simple: vote for your favorite in each match and see how well they do. No billion dollar grand prize, though, but tastier than b-baller sweat. [Bourbonblog Boozebracket]

Drinkhacker Reads – 03.19.2014 – Diageo’s Fuzzy Math

In PR speak, Diageo is in the midst of what one could qualify as a “very bad week.” First there’s the current playground-styled battle taking place in the halls of the Tennessee state legislature over which multi-national conglomerate cares more about “the little guy.” And now there’s this: at a recent press junket in San Francisco, wine scribe W. Blake Gray and Brian Kropf of Mutineer magazine attempted to get a straight answer from Diageo reps on just “how” limited the Orphan Barrel bourbon project will be. Considering there have been posts of “limited edition” numbers 41,000 and higher, it’s beginning to look like Diageo is attempting to spin another one of its infamous tall tales about a new product. Just how limited is something if it’s shipping over 40,000 bottles? (This of course, assuming they started with the number 1.) [The Gray Report]

If you can get past the excessive pop-up ads littered all over the page, Forbes has a profile of the 12 richest booze billionaires and how they’ve made their money. Some through shrewd negotiation, others through inheritance, but none of them correctly bested Warren Buffett’s college bracket challenge. [Forbes]

In scotch news, Whisky Cast is reporting that the mighty Bruichladdich is pulling its core range out of retail markets, but it will be made available online and at its own shop. In an exclusive interview with executives, the venerable Mark Gillespie discovered that supply reasons are mainly behind the move. If you’re not already signed up for Whisky Cast’s excellent podcast, you’re missing out on one of the best in the game. [Whisky Cast]

The new Glen Grant 50 year makes it debut with this video. The limited edition run of 150 bottles will be available in Hong Kong from starting this Friday and shortly following in Singapore, Seoul, Shanghai, Beijing, and Taipei. As of June 2014, it will be launched internationally in other duty free and domestic markets. So put down that Stroh’s and get those plane tickets booked! [PR Newswire]

And finally today, as if entering to win $1 billion isn’t enough, the folks at Buddha Beer have a Bracket Bash of their own for you to enter with one pretty wild grand prize: free Buddha beer for life for the best bracket! Hop on over to the site, fill your teams out (hint: one of the Michigan teams will be taking it all), sit back and (hopefully) win free brew for the rest of your days! Need help filling your bracket out? The Null family has you covered there, too. Boss man’s brother happens to run a handy dandy website called Bracket Voodoo that will give you the lowdown on the data you need to make the right March Madness calls. Which is Michigan or Michigan State. Always. [Buddha Beer]

Drinkhacker Reads – 03.17.2014 – Diageo Vs. Brown-Forman Square Off Over Barrels

2014 is certainly shaping up to be the year of drinking drama.

So there’s this thing that’s been happening over the past few days over in Tennessee. Brown-Forman, owner of Jack Daniel’s, is accusing fellow spirits giant Diageo of putting Tennessee whiskey “under attack.” This is in regards to legislation currently under consideration in the Tennessee State Assembly as to whether or not to allow the reuse of barrels when making Tennessee whiskey, an idea which would be verboten (and illegal) in Kentucky. Brown-Forman alleges Diageo is attempting to diminish the quality that’s synonymous with Tennessee, and hurt the reputation of distilleries statewide. The booze bloggerati is weighing with different theories. Chuck Cowdery is calling this a move out of fear, as Jack Daniel’s is about to surpass Diageo’s franchise player, Johnnie Walker, in sales. Fred Minnick takes the more pragmatic, economic route , claiming this to be a product of a barrel shortage and weak state laws.

Diageo for its part, is making no bones about lobbying for this legislation:

(Republican state Rep. Bill) Sanderson acknowledged that he introduced the measure at Diageo’s urging, but said it would also help micro distilleries opening across the state. Diageo picked up on the same theme.

“This isn’t about Diageo, as all of our Tennessee whiskey is made with new oak,” said Diageo executive vice president Guy L. Smith IV. “This is about Brown-Forman trying to stifle competition and the entrepreneurial spirit of micro distillers.

“We are not sure what they are afraid of, as we feel new innovative products from a new breed of distillers is healthy for the entire industry,” he said.

So in essence we have two liquor giants framing themselves to be on the side of the little guy, who will — if both parties are correct — suffer one way or the other. This is starting to sound more and more like the rhetoric from some poorly managed political campaigns. WhiskyCast has been on the job and has provided the text of the amendment to the bill in question, and is waiting to hear back for a potential interview.

This won’t be over any time soon. A cursory glance of the Senate and House calendars show that it’s not scheduled to be brought to the Senate floor for debate today, and if we’re understanding this committee meeting video correctly, won’t be brought up until next week. We also found a video on the matter of the House State Government Subcommittee from last week.

Also: Happy St. Patrick’s Day. Just a kind reminder to avoid the green beer.

The A-List – February 2014

The February roundup of our best and brightest of the past month found scant pickings, but there are still some exceptional picks at reasonable prices here, including the latest Evan Williams Single Barrel and Laphroaig Triple Wood. Happy hunting!

AListFeb14 525x768 The A List   February 2014

Drinkhacker Reads – 03.13.2014 – Master Distiller Jimmy Russell Celebrates 60 Years On The Job

jimmy 300x190 Drinkhacker Reads   03.13.2014   Master Distiller Jimmy Russell Celebrates 60 Years On The JobWe’re about to celebrate one bourbon legend with a review of Booker’s 25 in a hot second (review forthcoming), and now we’re going to toast another. Wild Turkey Master Distiller and all around great guy Jimmy Russell is celebrating his 60th year in the business. The Lawrenceburg, Kentucky native started at the distillery in 1954 and has been working nearly every day since then. A year long celebration is being planned at Wild Turkey, beginning with the grand opening of its brand new visitor center on April 15th. We’re also equally excited about the announcement of a Wild Turkey Diamond Anniversary expression, created by Jimmy’s son Eddie. This limited edition will only be available at the visitor center at first, and then rolled out nationwide later this year. Jimmy will also be the subject of an upcoming feature-length documentary detailing his time at the distillery, featuring appearances by a who’s who in the industry. Kudos to 60 years on the job!

fire 300x162 Drinkhacker Reads   03.13.2014   Master Distiller Jimmy Russell Celebrates 60 Years On The JobJack Daniel’s is putting out a new flavored whisky. Hooray! The company announced it will test a new red hot cinnamon-flavored spirit called Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire, beginning in April. It will blend Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 whiskey with a “proprietary red hot cinnamon liqueur.” Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire will be available in three states – Oregon, Pennsylvania and the distillery’s home state of Tennessee – before a potential nationwide rollout. [Press Release]

In other news, the Idaho Steelheads hockey franchise is being sued by fans for allegedly misleading them into thinking there was more beer in the $7 cups than in the $4 ones. Which there was not. [ABC News]

Wine Searcher enters the conversation as to whether or not wine critic Eric Asimov’s new “virtual wine school” venture with the New York Times will have the power to be sustainable, and whether or not it really differs from the other sites out there. [Wine Searcher]

Shanken News Daily is reporting that Jimmy Russell’s Wild Turkey was a significant factor in contributing to Gruppo Campari’s 6% growth in the 2013 calendar year. Wild Turkey was up 10% last year with 590,000 cases sold. Its American Honey edition jumped an impressive 17%. [Shanken]

Lastl, in celebration of the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day holiday, Gizmodo did an Ask Me Anything with Gerry Graham from Bushmills yesterday. Nearly 200 comments were left — some informative, others amusing, and some just typically downright trolling. [Gizmodo]

Drinkhacker Reads – 03.10.2014 – New Game Of Thrones Beer In Time For Season 4

GameOfThrones1 300x225 Drinkhacker Reads   03.10.2014   New Game Of Thrones Beer In Time For Season 4Ommegang brewery is getting ready to launch the next offering in its Game of Thrones-inspired beer line. Launching at SXSW this week, the Fire and Blood Ale is the third in the series and slated to be on shelves right in time for the season 4 premiere of the HBO hit series. [USA Today]

In other beer news: AB InBev (makers of Spuds Mackenzie and Budweiser) is preparing to launch a test run of rum-flavored beer in the UK later this month. Foodmate reports that Cubanisto “is a brand waiting to be discovered by tech-savvy trend setters, and enjoyed when socializing and celebrating with friends.” Perhaps we’ll put this in the cooler right next to the bourbon-flavored-not-bourbon-flavored Miller Fortune. [Foodmate]

The always excellent Becky Paskin over at the Spirits Business files a long form article on the website’s 2014 Rum Masters competition, and its expansive list of winners includes many we’ve given high marks to over the years. [The Spirits Business]

The Sacramento Bee is warning grape growers that after several fruitful summers of productivity, this summer may be different. Reports of drought-like conditions are already being predicted for the region. [Sac Bee]

And finally today, a pretty run-of-the-mill profile piece on Julian Van Winkle, discussing the phenomenon behind the brand, future allocations, and how we could all be smoking weed in about 10 years time. [Charleston City Paper]

Drinkhacker Reads – 03.05.2014 – Hudson Whiskey Looking for a New Brand Ambassador

Looking to spice up your career trajectory a bit? Need something that’s not exactly the average clock-punching, 9 to 5? Well, Hudson Whiskey may have the answer for you. It’s looking for a new brand ambassador to take the company to the next level. Their current brand ambassador also happens to be master distiller Gable Erenzo, who is looking to head back to the distillery full time. More information in the video, or on the company’s website.

Brown-Forman is reporting its third quarter profit increased 12% following increased global demand on its brands such as the flagship of the portfolio, Jack Daniel’s. The company, which has been subject to takeover rumors from Bacardi in recent weeks, attributed much of its global growth to the success of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey. [WSJ]

Over in the world of wine, Business Insider lives up to its name by giving tips on how to pay less for a high quality bottle of wine. [Business Insider]

Over in the world of “what?”: a company is claiming it has manufactured a machine with the ability to turn water into wine, just like that one guy did a few thousand years ago. No word on whether or not this is a prank like the hoverboard video which stormed the internet yesterday. [Fox St. Louis]

Drinkhacker Reads – 03.04.2014 – More Mortlach, M’Lady

Mortlach 25ans FACE RVB 200x300 Drinkhacker Reads   03.04.2014   More Mortlach, MLadyMortlach 18ans FACE RVB 200x300 Drinkhacker Reads   03.04.2014   More Mortlach, MLady
Last year Diageo announced its intentions to relaunch the dormant Mortlach brand. Those plans are now firming up. The Speyside single malt will be available in four expressions, due to arrive at select global travel outlets in early summer and in “cosmopolitan” cities in the Asia-Pacific region and New York/San Francisco in late summer. We’ve received images of the new packaging for the 18 and 25 year old expressions. [Mortlach Distillery]

Here we go again: another month, another lawsuit over likeness and images. Sazerac is taking Minnesota-based Crosby Lake Spirits to court over similarities between Crosby’s Bison Ridge and Sazerac’s Buffalo Trace brands, which may cause “confusion” with consumers. We’ve broken it down for consideration. What do you think? Does Sazerac have a case? Did Bison Ridge come too close to the ridge’s ledge? Is it headed for extinction?

TaleOfTape 525x423 Drinkhacker Reads   03.04.2014   More Mortlach, MLady

Finally today, if any of our readers has $500 million to $1 billion to spare: Pabst Blue Ribbon could be all yours. Reuters is reporting that the infamous Beer du Jour of both working people and Brooklyn trust fund kids is looking for a new captain to steer its ship. As a bonus, the new owner will also get Schlitz and Old Milwaukee as part of the bargain. [Reuters]

Drinkhacker Reads – 02.26.2014 – A Night Of Brora-mance Will Cost You $12k

Brora 264x300 Drinkhacker Reads   02.26.2014   A Night Of Brora mance Will Cost You $12kDiageo has entered the single malt super-luxury-one-percenter market with its latest release, a 40 year Brora retailing for $11,690. Bottled in the obligatory crystal decanter, this expression comes nestled with love in a wooden case courtesy of the Queen Mother’s personal cabinet maker, N.E.J Stevenson. Of course, if you’re one of those peasantlike two-percenters or someone who doesn’t have excessive money to burn on such frivolities, you could always go for the 35 year old Brora for a fraction of the cost. [Press Release]

Over the past few days there have been murmurs of a potential takeover of spirits producer Brown-Forman by mega-global corporation Bacardi. While there’s been no confirmation either way on the matter, the Lexington Herald Leader‘s incredible spirits scribe Janet Patton is reporting that the story originated months ago and began simmering louder this past weekend, when Bacardi’s CEO made comments regarding its desire to strengthen its whiskey portfolio. Now the question becomes: will they or won’t they? Could get interesting. Stay tuned. [Lexington Herald Leader]

In science news: researchers in Spain think they are getting closer to figuring out how microbial bacteria influences the taste of wine. [Wired]

We’re not exactly sure what’s going on here, but it appears that the staff of the “Model Collectorate of Customs Preventive, Anti-Smuggling Organization” (sounds pretty official) in Pakistan has confiscated 1000 bottles of whisky as part of a smuggling crackdown. Details of the initiative are incredibly sketchy at best, but perhaps someone in Frankfort, Kentucky may now have some answers as to where some misplaced inventory might be residing. [Observer]

Pernod seems to be keeping busy with its genius marketing idea of creating Absolut bottles based on regions. Up next: The Drinks Business reports Absolut is teaming with director Baz Luhrmann for Absolut Oz, and The Houston Chronicle reports of the arrival of Absolut Texas later this month.

In tequila news: a dignified portrait of tequila and the art of the process at Casa Noble. And then there’s Paula Deen riding horseback on an employee and slamming back the anejo.

And finally today, happy 107th birthday to Qualicum Beach’s Gertrude Kay. When asked about the secret to her longevity, she replied that it involves enjoying a glass of rye every evening before bedtime. We’ve had our suspicions that a long and happy life was somewhere in a good bottle of whiskey. Cheers to discovering the fountain of youth, Ms. Kay! [Parksville-QB 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.